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Weekend Update 7/11/2020: Ignorant selfish pricks

Time once again to visit stories that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five or represent a new development in a story I’ve linked to and/or that I’ve ranted or otherwise expressed opinions upon before. This week supplemented with some graphics I collected for possible inclusion in blog posts which are just going to sit on the hard disk unless I upload a whole bunch of them at once. Let’s just jump in, shall we?

Roger Stone is an ass. He is a criminal. He is almost certainly a traitor. But he did all of that to help the alleged president, so of course just before he is to serve an extremely light sentence for the crimes he was convicted of, the narcissistic fascist occupying the oval office has commuted his sentence. And of course he had to spew a bunch of lies while doing it: Debunking 12 lies and falsehoods from the White House statement on Roger Stone’s commutation.

I mean, this really is beyond the pale. Even Trump’s toady, so-called attorney general William Barr had said that Stone’s case was a “righteous conviction.” If any single Republican in Congress had a fraction of a thread of a fibre of morality they would be condemning this. And that’s not just me saying that: What Could Be More Impeachable Than Clemency for Roger Stone? – Trump’s latest abuse of power is so flagrant that Republicans should want to punish him for their own self-preservation. But they won’t.

Edited to add: Well, I’ll be! Romney: Stone Commutation Is “Historic Corruption”.
And: GOP senator Pat Toomey says Trump commuting Stone was a ‘mistake’.


“Hey, do you remember when we used to wear hats with Obama slogans, have Obama flags outside our houses, and constantly go to Obama rallies in non-election years? Oh, that's righg, we did none of that shit because we weren't in a fucking cult.”

(Click to embiggen)

Speaking of lies from the alleged president, there was supposed to be another rally, this time in New Hampshire. The rally was suddenly canceled, supposedly because of weather, but no one who isn’t a Fox News cultist believes it: Concern over turnout was factor in postponing Trump rally, GOP advisers say – Fears that the coronavirus and the weather would dampen the attendance helped postpone the New Hampshire re-election event. The Tulsa Rally was a big embarrassment, with a very empty stadium, no overflow crowd, and now even Republican officials in Oklahoma are admitting the only thing the rally accomplished was to cause a new spike in Covid-19 cases. So the campaign doesn’t want a repeat of that. Not every Republican is toeing the line on the excuse, though: Trump campaign postpones New Hampshire rally after Tulsa embarrassment – Ex-RNC head Michael Steele calls out Trump lazy excuse.


The masks speak…

The vast majority of Americans are trying to be smart. We are trying to practice social distancing. We are wearing masks when we go out. The problem is a minority of stupid, evil, mother-fuckers. And I know that if too many of them get sick that puts health care workers at risk… but me thinking that politicians like this are only getting what the deserve is NOT what’s putting those workers at risk: Commissioner who Voted Against Masks in Critical Condition with COVID-19. If he dies, he had it coming. And I will not apologize for pointing out that fact. Speaking of people who had it coming: 26 lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Mississippi state legislature outbreak.

“Canadians pulling the 'Masks reduce oxygen intake' trope. Imma stop you right there and remind you that 5/12 months a year the air is so cold it hurts your face and we adapt by wearing multiple layers of scarves and no one has ever died of scarf related hypoxia.”

(Click to embiggen)

And while I mostly point out the failings of my fellow Americans, it is important to remember that we don’t have a monopoly on either stupidity or ignorant conservatism. Wear a mask, and stop being a drama queen! Surgical teams wear masks far more restrictive than the simple cloth masks we’re asking for–and they complete hours long complicated surgeries with no one passing out, et cetera. Wearing a mask is different than not wearing one, but it isn’t onerous, it isn’t damaging to your health, and it isn’t something you can’t get used to. And it does save the lives of other people. Stop being ignorant, selfish pricks, and wear a mask!


That’s all the bad news I can deal with this morning. Let’s look at something less serious, shall we?

Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Cobert Perform “Button!”:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Friday Five (who has whose back edition)

Trump's a traitor: The bounty should be on his head (metaphorically speaking) https://www.salon.com/2020/07/04/trumps-a-traitor-the-bounty-should-be-on-his-head-metaphorically-speaking/

Trump’s a traitor: The bounty should be on his head (metaphorically speaking) https://www.salon.com/2020/07/04/trumps-a-traitor-the-bounty-should-be-on-his-head-metaphorically-speaking/

And here we are at the second Friday in July!

As a long-time resident of Western Washington state (I came to live here as a teenager way back in 1976), I am well aware of the fact that summer weather doesn’t typically arrive here until July 11. Many locals joke that it is July 5, mostly because people remember how many 4ths of July were overcast and/or rainy, and that sunny weather arrived sometime after Independence Day, but statistically it isn’t the 5th, it’s the 11th. I mention this because all this week a lot of local news blogs and such have been hyping the fact this this year year has seen the coolest first week in July in Seattle since 2002. Since I’m a person who basically melts into a puddle of Unable-to-do-anything whenever the temperature gets about 80º Farenheit, I’m not exactly complaining, mind you.

Which means that this must be the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about deplorable people, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Froth, Feathers, Fluff: The History of the Boa.

Follow The River, No Matter Its Rapids, No Matter Its Turns .

The Study That Debunks Most Anti-Abortion Arguments – For five years, a team of researchers asked women about their experience after having—or not having—an abortion. What do their answers tell us?

Why LGBTQ Children’s Books Aren’t Just for LGBTQ Families.

Elton John says ‘racism and bigotry’ are hindering the fight against HIV/AIDS. “We can achieve an AIDS-free generation in America—but only if we design a system of care that embraces Black people and marginalized communities, and tackles structural racism head-on.”

This Week in the Pandemic:

US reaches 3m confirmed Covid-19 cases as Pence pushes for schools to reopen – as it happened.

California sets record for most coronavirus cases in a single day.

Health official: Trump rally ‘likely’ source of virus surge.

Large antibody study adds to evidence herd immunity to COVID-19 is ‘unachievable’.

Study: Lower COVID Risk for HIV-Positive People on Antiretrovirals.

This Week in Deplorables:

Ted Cruz mocked for tantrum about Gorsuch siding with Native American rights: ‘Way to channel Andrew Jackson’.

Billionaries, lobbyists reap PPP loan windfall.

Fox News regrets ‘mistakenly’ editing Donald Trump out of photo with Jeffrey Epstein.

Drivers target Black Lives Matter protesters in ‘horrifying’ spate of attacks.

Republican candidate brags about pulling her daughter out of college for supporting LGBTQ rights.

In Memoriam:

Nick Cordero, Broadway actor who battled COVID-19, has died at age 41, wife says.

Ennio Morricone, Oscar-Winning Composer of Film Scores, Dies at 91 – His vast output included atmospheric music for spaghetti westerns in his native Italy and scores for some 500 movies by a Who’s Who of directors.

Ennio Morricone, Prolific Italian Composer for the Movies, Dies at 91 – Renowned for scoring Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns, the Oscar winner also produced the sounds and music for ‘Days of Heaven,’ ‘The Mission,’ ‘Cinema Paradiso’ and ‘The Hateful Eight.’

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update on the Fifth of July.

That monument doesn’t belong here.

Speech without consequences isn’t free….

Gentlefolk, Start Your Rockets, er, Hugo Ballots!

Videos!

Cooper: Trump says US in a good place. His experts say otherwise:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Bounty:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Rep. Moulton on Russia bounties: ‘This is treasonous behavior’ from Trump:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

POOR DEPLORABLE TROLL – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Wrabel – since i was young (with kesha) [official audio]:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Gentlefolk, Start Your Rockets, er, Hugo Ballots!

The Hugo trophy given out at NolaCon II, New Orleans, 1988. Trophy designed by: Ned Dameron Photo by: Michael Benveniste

The Hugo trophy given out at NolaCon II, New Orleans, 1988. Trophy designed by: Ned Dameron Photo by: Michael Benveniste

The Hugo Online Ballots have finally opened! Which means I have a lot fewer excuses not to start filling mine out. If you are a Hugo voter (i.e., have a membership to this year’s WorldCon) and you haven’t received the email telling you how to log in and vote, you should probably check your spam folder(s). I haven’t posted any reviews of any of the books or stories or otherwise on the ballots, yet. But some other folks have. I am most enthused about a series of blog posts that Camestros Felapton is putting up this week, here’s the overview: It’s Hugo Fan Writer Finalist Week! Each day this week he is posting a “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for… ” essay. Because each and everyone one of the six nominees in that category this year are just bloody brilliant fan writers. I wanna give all six of them the rocket.

His reviews give a nice overview of what each of the fan writers produce, with helpful links to stuff the many places you can find their work. Even if you aren’t a Hugo voter, but you love sci fi/fantasy, you should check these six writers out. They are all wonderful.

Just as I’m finding it very difficult to rank the six fan writer nominees, I’m having a nearly equally hard time in the Novel category. I may have to write about that some more later.

But for now, if you’re a voter, go vote! If you’re a fan, go check out those fan writers!

Speech without consequences isn’t free…

“Speech without consequence is't free, it's privilege...” © Tauriq Moosa

“Speech without consequence is’t free, it’s privilege…” © Tauriq Moosa (Click to embiggen)

A few years ago a lot of people were sharing a link to a video along with shocked comments. The video was a black and white clip from an old PBS show in which I think it was four various serious white guys in suits were discussing politics. The specific topic I think was the Voting Rights Act. Anyway, the show was originally broadcast in the sixties. What was so shocking to many of the people sharing the link was first that one of the experts said a lot of blatantly racist stuff as his argument (“it’s a well known fact that negroes are less intelligent, on average than white people” was only one of the things he said). But even more shocking to the people sharing it, but the supposed liberal on the show not only didn’t dispute any of the racist things, he actually agreed with at least some of them. The liberal argument wasn’t that any Black people are just as intelligent and moral and civilized as white people, the argument seemed to be that even inferior people deserved civil rights.

The clip wasn’t a parody, let’s make that clear.

Most of the people who were shocked were either too young to have been alive in the 1960s, or too young to remember that time. At the time blatantly racist beliefs were considered not just a legitimate opinion to hold, but was largely accepted as reasonable interpretation of reality. Now, there were always people who thought those beliefs were wrong, but they were still very much in the minority when this particular show was recorded.

That minority was growing. Over the next many years more and more people came to the conclusion that not only were those racist beliefs factually incorrect, but that adhering to them was seen as immoral. A tipping point was reached, and there was a wave in which a number of conservative pundits and opinion columnists and such found themselves being dropped by mainstream news organizations.

And they freaked out a bit.

The freak out is understandable. For example, a particular columnist got fired by the New York Times, I think it was, after writing a column criticizing busing (where students were bused to schools further from their neighborhood in order to try to achieve racial balance in public schools). And it wasn’t the criticism of bussing itself that got him fired, it was the fact that one of the reasons he said desegregation of schools was bad was because the white students would be held back by the Black and Latino students because the latter were obviously less intelligent. It was an assertion the columnist had made many times in editorials before this one, so you can understand why he thought it was still a legitimate argument.

The expectations of polite society had shifted around him, and he had failed to keep up. A year earlier, it was still socially acceptable to believe white people were inherently mentally superior to people of other ethnicities. You could express that belief in print and in person and still be welcome at people’s parties and so forth. Many might disagree with him a year or more earlier, but they still viewed it as a topic upon which reasonable people could disagree. And then, you couldn’t any longer.

Racism didn’t end. What changes was how blatantly racist someone could be and still get accepted in polite society.

Plenty of conservatives adapted. They figured out ways to continue making arguments for their positions using euphemisms and dog whistles. Maybe even a small number saw the light, somewhat, and recognized that systemic social and economic biases were what caused the disparities they saw between the races. But it was almost certainly an extremely small number.

I bring this long anecdote up to set some context to a much more recent hot topic. Changing social norms of what expressions of bigotry are considered acceptable isn’t something new. It is an ongoing thing. And while it is a gradual thing, these tipping point moments can catch some privileged people by surprise. It seems sudden and even disconcerting to them, in part because they usually go through much of live in a bubble of privilege.

And to clarify, I don’t mean that only rich people live in these bubbles. Privilege takes many forms. One of those forms is that people who disagree often don’t feel safe (physically, socially, financially) to express their disagreement. People who stand up for themselves or challenge certain kinds of comments in various social or work situations are perceived as “making waves” or “creating unnecessary conflict” and “not being a team player.” So, speaking up when a co-worker makes a misogynist or homophobic or transphobic joke carries a risk of everything from not being considered for promotion to being let go.

So people who are offended, feel attacked, or otherwise disagree with the sentiments—whether expressed explicitly or implied—learn to laugh nervously and change the topic, or otherwise not rock the boat. This perpetuates the mistaken belief of the bigot that what they said is perfectly reasonable. Some people laughed, right?

And it isn’t just the workplace where these bubbles happen.

The bubbles can insulate people holding those bigoted views right up until that tipping point is reached.

The recent flurries of pushback from the bigots has been to try to appeal to free speech and to bemoan so-called cancel culture. There are two problems here: you can’t make a free speech argument when you are specifically trying to silence your critics. And marginalized people have been “canceled”—losing jobs, entire careers—for years. When I mentioned above about losing one’s job for speaking up? That’s something that happens to women, people of color, queer people, trans people, and so forth all the time.

The reason these guys are upset is because it’s happening to them instead of to us. More of us feel we can speak up about other people’s bigotry, and we are. They were perfectly happy to live in the bubble and watch others miss out on promotions, lose their jobs, sometimes get driven out of neighborhoods, et cetera. But suddenly some people are actually subjecting them to (in most cases) mild consequences, and suddenly they think they are the victims.

No. They have been the privileged aggressors acting like jerks to other people. It’s not that suddenly people are offended by things that used to be just fine. Those those were always offensive. All that’s happened is that far fewer people are willing to give these jerks a free pass.

‟Speech without consequence isn’t free, it’s privilege. And more and more, we are using free expression and digital tools to fight back against harassment that has always been there—but for which it’s never been the harassers’ problem to deal with.
And if these hypersensitive men can’t deal with responses to their abusive behavior online, maybe the Internet isn’t for them.”
—Tauriq Moosa

That monument doesn’t belong here

This isn’t what I thought I’d be writing about today, but here we are! I missed this piece of local news over the weekend: Confederate memorial toppled at Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery in Capitol Hill. The first time I wrote about Confederate monuments and why I thought most of them should be torn down was in 2017 (a post which I republished recently with a little bit of additional commentary). In that post I talked about one of those monuments here in my local community:

Washington territory was never a part of the Confederacy, and the few inhabitants of the state who served in the [civil] war did so as part of the Union Army and Navy. A local family, some years after the war, donated land in what would one day become the Capitol Hill neighborhood to the Grand Army of the Republic (which was an organization made up mostly of Union side Civil War Veterans) for a cemetery for Union soldiers. And that’s who was buried there. But decades later, during one of those surges of monument building, the Daughters of the Confederacy paid to have a monument to soldiers of the Confederacy erected in the cemetery. There are no Confederate soldiers buried there. Not one. And there are no soldiers’ names engraved on the massive monument. But there it is, erected in a cemetery full of Union soldiers, a monument to the so-called noble cause of the Confederacy.

I have since learned that some of facts in the above paragraph are an over simplification. Some of the land in the cemetery was donated to the Grand Army of the Republic, and at least 11 Union veterans are buried there. But the cemetery holds a bunch of other people (included actor Bruce Lee). But one fact that is still not in dispute: there are no Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The Confederate Monument was erected near the graves of the 11 Union soldiers, though. It makes as much sense to have a Confederate monument in that cemetery as it would to erect a monument to the army of Nazi Germany in a military cemetery full of U.S. World War II veterans.

Each time that organizations like the Daughters of the Confederacy have gone on these binges of raising money for monuments and then bullying local governments into letting them be erected, has been a time where racist groups have felt a need to terrorize black people. The purpose of those monuments is not to teach history. They are meant as both propaganda and a threat.

A local news blog I read all the time posted a story today which only partially answers the question it poses in its headline: Wait, Why the Hell Does Seattle Have a Confederate Monument?

Yes, the Daughters of the Confederacy got the monument placed in the cemetery, in part by not just paying for the monument’s construction, but by making a donation to the non-profit that owns and manages the cemetery. A non-profit which has, by the way, ofter struggled with raising enough funds to adequately maintain the grounds. I think it is very interesting to note that no one at the non-profit wants to talk publicly about the monument.

In response to the news of this toppled monument, I’ve seen a couple people on social media try to put forward a “what-about-ism” argument because there is another monument in the cemetery which honors people who aren’t buried there. This is the Nisei War Memorial Monument, which was originally raised to honor 47 local Japanese Americans who served and died in World War II. In many cases the bodies were never returned to the U.S. I haven’t found a list of how many of those soldiers whose bodies were returned wound up in this cemetery, but apparently more than one did. Additionally, local Japanese American soldiers who served in the U.S. military and were killed in action in subsequent wars have had their names added to the monument

There is a very big difference between a memorial that lists actual names of local people who died in a war (at least a couple of whom are buried in the same cemetery), and one that lists no local names (and for that matter, no names at all!).

The local Japanese American community has been an important part of the history of Seattle and the surrounding area for about 140 years. The Confederacy—which barely existed for five years!—has absolutely no connection to Seattle. There is no good reason for a Confederate monument to be here, only a lot of bad reasons.

Weekend Update on the Fifth of July

I meant to do a Weekend Update on the morning of Independence Day before logging in to play a roleplaying game with friends, but Saturday was one of the “there’s not enough caffeine in the world” mornings. I kept falling back to sleep, and then had trouble making coffee because I couldn’t think straight, et cetera. On the other hand, I only had one news story I found after posting the Friday Five. Whereas today, well, I ran across a few stories of people behaving badly on the Fourth, so, maybe not getting to it until today was for the best.

First, though, that one link: 36 Years Later, Conservatives Finally Read The Lyrics To ‘Born In The USA’. This one both cracked me up and made me very sad at the same time…

The chorus of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” gets included in the musical accompaniment of civic fireworks all the time. And people put the song in playlists for parties around Independence Day. And it’s a good song! I have it in several of my playlists for this time of year, myself.

The problem that has occurred for the person who is being mocked in the above story, is that he finally listened to the whole song, and realized the story of the song is told from the point of view of a Vietnam Veteran who served his country, came home to a recession, had difficulty finding work, didn’t find the Veteran’s Administration terribly helpful, and so on. Which he thinks means it isn’t a patriotic song.

I really, really get tired of conservatives defining “patriotic” as blind obedience and unearned praise and denial of history. Because I love the ideals of the country and try to hold my elected representatives to those ideals, they view me as disloyal. Not understanding the loving someone in spite of their flaws, and hoping to help them become a better person is a more authentic love.

The Vietnam War was something that happened. Our less than stellar treatment of veterans, particularly of that war, is something that has and continues to happen. Despite my personal belief that the Vietnam War was a mistake (and generally wars are bad ideas), I also believe that as a citizen, I owe a debt to the people who served in the U.S. military and especially those who were wounded or otherwise harmed in war under the auspices of the U.S. Which means acknowledging that we failed many of them. We can’t fix what’s wrong with the Veterans Administration and so forth without admitting that those wrong things exist.

Springsteen’s song has all that, and it absolutely belongs in any patriotic playlist.

Let’s move on!

Mississippi Election Official Concerned Blacks Are Registering To Vote, ‘People Should Too’. “The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too,” Welch posted on Facebook. If you read the article, notice that the only thing she is apologizing for is accidentally posting her comment publicly. She is refusing to admit that her statement means that she doesn’t think of Black people as actual people. Even her clarifying comments still categorize Black people living in Mississippi as a completely separate category as “citizens of Mississippi.” I mean, we all knew that’s how folks like her think already, she’s just said it out loud. At least twice.

Minister goes to Gettysburg on the Fourth of July to visit the grave of an ancestor, and then: Right-Wing Militias Found No Antifa Event at Gettysburg—So Harassed a Man in Cemetery Instead. Why, exactly, did police escort the victim out of the cemetery and leave the people who attacked him there to keep roving looking for the imaginary antifa?

Here’s another: Black Family Escorted Off Oregon Beach After 7 Men Launched Racist July 4 Attack

Again, instead of arresting the seven men, the police escorted the victims of the hate crime away from the beach. I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s not right, am I? Edited to Add: turns out the men were arrested (The version of the story I read Saturday night didn’t mention that, and then I missed the update) ‘Highly intoxicated’ white men arrested after harassing Black family with Nazi salutes.

And one more: Cashier loses job after allegedly being battered, subjected to gay slurs at work. Again, why did he get fired?!

Let’s go full circle and end it on a musical note:

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Friday Five (not the end times? edition)

And suddenly, it’s July.

When did that happen? Well, okay, I know, Wednesday is when it happened, but it’s a rhetorical question. Sometimes rhetorical questions make great headlines. You’ll find at least one below.

Which means that this must be the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about deplorable people, five stories about science, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Working the Refs Worked: ‘How Facebook Wrote Its Rules to Accommodate Trump’.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings.

Witness the rare, gay double-proposal that went viral.

Not the End Times I Prepared For.

Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

9 queer political figures creating a more perfect union this election year.

Godzilla’s daughter just came out as trans in the most adorable, uplifting short film and it deserves every single Oscar.

Tarzan Made Me Gay. I was a couple years younger than the author of this pieces when I saw hunky Mike Henry in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold, and he definitely made an impression.

Former Liberty U. Staffer Opens Up About Being Queer on an Anti-Gay Campus.

Indianapolis Catholic Schools’ New Policy Forces Gender Conformity on Trans Kids.

This Week in the Pandemic:

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Soar Above 50,000 In New Single-Day Record.

As coronavirus cases soar, Texas issues statewide order requiring face coverings.

Another Day, Another Coronavirus Record In Florida.

Arizona activates hospital plan with guidance for rationing health care.

‘Extreme inequality was the preexisting condition’: How COVID-19 widened America’s wealth gap.

This Week in Deplorables:

Is Trump Trying to Kill Us All?

The Coronavirus Spread In A Dallas Megachurch’s Choir And Orchestra. Then It Hosted Mike Pence.

Did Cards Against Humanity’s ironic humor mask a toxic culture all along?

Karens — racist people who weaponize white supremacy against Black people — have permeated every level of American life, all the way up to the Karen-in-Chief. They must be stopped.

Detroit man sentenced to life in prison for killing two gay men and a transgender woman.

This Week in Science and Technology:

Core of a gas planet seen for the first time.

A sparrow song remix took over North America with astonishing speed – A variation on the white-throated sparrow’s song spread 3,300 kilometers in just a few decades.

Flying Snakes Can Travel Remarkable Distances, Now Scientists Know How.

Mystery over monster star’s vanishing act.

How one teaspoon of Amazon soil teems with fungal life.

In Memoriam:

Carl Reiner, longtime comedy legend, dies at 98.

“Now This is Funny”: My Recent Afternoon at Carl Reiner’s House – When The Hollywood Reporter’s senior film editor Rebecca Keegan was invited to watch ‘The Jerk’ with its legendary director, she learned that his reputation for self-effacing generosity was no joke.

Hugh Downs, Longtime Host of ’20/20′ and the ‘Today’ Show, Dies at 99.

Milton Glaser, Master Designer of ‘I ♥ NY’ Logo, Is Dead at 91 – He was also a founder of New York magazine, created a memorable Bob Dylan poster and produced designs for everything from supermarkets to restaurants to “Mad Men.”.

Things I wrote:

It’s Pride Day, 2020 — Happy Pride!.

Confessions of a rainbow wearing queer geek in quarantine.

On the last day of Pride Month: Police Brutality and Religious Bigots.

Midweek Update 7/1/2020: Time for more words and images.

Videos!

The Logical Conclusion: Black Americans Must Be Declared National Monuments:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian – Evangelicals Unmasked:

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COVER YOUR FREAKIN’ FACE! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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Right Said Fred – ‘Good Times Everybody’ (Official Video):

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Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?:

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Midweek Update 7/1/2020: Time for more words and images

I save memes and infographs and similar images all the time in hopes of using them to illustrate a blog post sometime I alwasy gather far more than I actually use. So here are a bunch that really need sharing:

On the last day of Pride Month: Police Brutality and Religious Bigots

“The Supreme Court ruled that police have no duty to protect or serve. This guns are not for your protection.”

Several federal cases (including to the Supreme Court) have reached the same conclusion, the police have no obligation to protect the public, nor can they be sued for failing to do so (Warren v. District of Columbia, Lynch v. NC Dept. of Justice, Riss v. New York)

Aggressive NYPD Officers Rough Up, Pepper Spray Peaceful ‘Queer Liberation March’ Participants.

Of course they did. Because that’s what they do. They inflict violence on people they perceive have no power, and that they believe will lose any we said/cop said scenario. They almost always escalate. It’s a version of the old “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Police academy training primes them to assume that everyone not wearing a badge is just someone waiting for an excuse to attack them, and they only tools they believe they can rely on are violence and the complicity of their fellow officers.

The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It.

Sticker on the base of a light pole reads, “Stonewall wasn't about Marriage Equality, it was about police violence.”

The Stonewall Riots, usually cited as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, was a reaction to police brutality and harassment.

Which is why we’re protesting and making various demands. Congress critters claim they have heard us and are ready to get serious on reform. One of the problems is that one of the only tools Congress has is money. Which means that any reform bill they come up with is going to result in more money going to police departments, not less.

If they were serious at reform they would look at those federal cases, we see that in the eyes of the law, cops are just crime accountants, not crime fighters. Their only obligations are to observe and record the aftermath of crimes, not prevent crimes, and not even to arrest criminals if they don’t want to.

So what we need is a Law Enforcement Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed various kinds of discrimination under an argument that while the Constitution guarantees basic civil rights, it doesn’t always spell out what those rights are. Though the Tenth Amendment does say that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution belong to the States and to the People. And the Fourteenth Amendment says that no person can be deprived of the equal protection of the law and that citizens can’t have their rights abridged has often been interpreted as affirming that people are entitled to rights not spelled out elsewhere. That was most of the legal justification of the Civil Rights Act: at attempt by Congress to define what some of those unspecified rights are, and to provide a framework for the enforcement of both enumerated and unspecified rights.

The Law Enforcement Act could extend that framework, though the points I suggest such an Act must have can be read right out of one ennumerated right from the First Amendment, and one part of the Fourteenth.

Lots of people claim all sorts of things are protected by the First Amendment, and I don’t want to get into that debate. For this purpose, I’m going to stick to the text. One of the rights specifically mentioned in the First Amendment that most people forget about is the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” My proposed Law Enforcement Act would define the following things as part of that right to petition the Government:

  • The right to sue individual police, police departments, and local and state governments which fund those police departments for failure to protect ordinary residents, or for police misconduct that harms a person or deprives them of property, or for wrongful death. In other words, repeal limited immunity.
  • The right to require public hearings for police misconduct allegations, and a right for ordinary residents who make such allegations to appeal any findings of the misconduct hearings to a civil authority outside the police department.
  • The right to demand judicial review of clauses of police union contracts which in any way impede those aforementioned rights
  • the right to have any property seized through asset forfeiture returned (and in the case of cash, with interest) unless there is a conviction by a jury of a crime related to said assets. (I would prefer that asset forfeiture be outlawed completely, but I know that’s not going to happen.)

Next, turning to the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the rights that it forbids States from infringing is “the equal protection of the laws.” And so the act should spell out the equal protection includes:

  • An obligation of the police to protect all persons within their jurisdiction.
  • Any State the fails to enact laws that protect the rights listed in the Act shall be denied all federal monies for any current or future program to support law enforcement.

There are a lot of others things that Act ought to have, but if we can just get the right to sue the police and government over misconduct and failure to protect citizens, the stick of all those lawsuits is going to force police reform.

Let’s change topics

“So you oppose gay rights because of the Bible? Unless you also try to outlaw: Shrimp cocktail (Lev 11:9), Cursing (Lev 24:16), Women's jeans (Deut 22:5), Lying (Prov 12:22), Bacon (Lev 11:7), Adultery (Deut 22:23), Working on Sunday (Num 15:32) Please shut the hell up!”

Yes, please! (Click to embiggen)

Since the surprisingly pro-LGBTQ pro-trans Supreme Court ruling about employment discrimination, I have heard and read a lot of queer folks incorrectly saying that the Court found employment discrimination about queer folks unconstitutional. No. The ruling was not about constitutionality. It was a statutory interpretation ruling. It was a logical recognition that discrimination against LGBTQ people is a form of sex discrimination. The ruling could probably be undone by the simple passage of a law of Congress that “clarifies” the meaning of sex discrimination in the earlier law.

Now, as long as the Democrats control at least one house of Congress, that isn’t likely to happen. And, heck, if you noticed how few Republican Senators put out a spirited criticism of the ruling, reflects the reality that a large majority of voters support the ruling, so support for such a bill is likely soft on the Republican side.

However, religious freedom is explicitly protected in the Constitution, so we shouldn’t be surprised if, before the Court adjourns for the summer, one of those so-called Religious Freedom cases doesn’t walk much of that ruling back (Like Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru which was just argued last month). And whether it does or not, we can expect a lot more attempts to invalidate our lives in the name of religion.

Anti-LGBTQ industry will speed up usage of religious beliefs as a discrimination weapon after SCOTUS loss.

Indianapolis Catholic Schools’ New Policy Forces Gender Conformity on Trans Kids.

Confessions of a rainbow wearing queer geek in quarantine

Queer Geek

Yep, that’s me!

If this has been a normal year, for this weekend my husband and I would have checked into the hotel where the Locus Awards Weekend is happening on Friday. We would attend the reading and evening events there, then the panels on Saturday morning and the book signing, then the awards banquet…. When on Sunday morning we wouldcheck out, confirm with the hotel we can leave the car in the parking garage until 4pm, and walk two blocks to watch part of the Seattle Pride Parade, then walk a couple more blocks to see the Pride Festival, buy t-shirts or other things that catch our eye, before heading 8 miles north to our home.

Last year the festival put all the booths that were gaming stores, comics shops, and two publishers that specialize in queer comics and such inside one of the air conditioned buildings. It was almost as if there were a mini queer sci fi convention going on within the Pride festival!

When I was much younger, 4pm wouldn’t have been late enough to have free parking on Pride Day, but my knees aren’t what the used to be. Plus, I’ve always had problems when being out in the sun too long, so the 4pm deadline has been fine the last few years.

The in-person version of Locus Awards Weekend, as well as the majority of Pride events everywhere, being canceled due to the pandemic, that didn’t happen this year. I did sign up for the virtual Locus Weekend this time. There were more readings, but they were streamed recordings, so there wasn’t any audience reaction, which I found I missed a lot more than I thought. The panels were as fun as ever, even it was a little weird not to hear and feel the crowd of other fans around you during the con. On the other hand, because the panels were live streamed on Zoom, we did have a text chat to do some interacting with other audience members.

If we wanted to participate in the traditional Donut Salon, we had to provide our own donuts. And there wasn’t a banquet for the awards, obviously. Connie Willis, the MC, was wonderful, as always. There weren’t any acceptance speeches (which would have been very difficult to arrange virtually, I understand). I thought all of the winners were good choices, though in every category there were a bunch of other entries which I would have been just as pleased had they won instead. To see the winners: 2020 Locus Awards Winners.

I was particularly pleased that “This is How You Lose a Time War” won Best Novella, because at this point it is also at number one on my Hugo ballot in that category. I was also extremely happy that Nisi Shawl’s anthology, Different Suns: won Best Anthology.

I’m not the most extroverted person in the world, but I did miss chatting with people that I regularly see at this event, an seeing faces both familiar and new.

One of the things I love about the Locus Awards is that they have several different Novel categories. So three of the books that are on the short list for Best Novel Hugo walked away with Locus Awards this weekend.

Virtual Con was fun. It was certainly better than moping at home sad that I had missed it. And there are some things that we better, IMHO, with the virtual venue:

  • I didn’t have to contend with not always being able to get a seat close enough nor on the side of my fully functional ear in order to hear as well as clearly see faces and facial expressions of the panelists or readers
  • I sincerely doubt that Karen Lord has ever unsheathed that fancy sword in the middle of a panel before
  • CLOSED CAPTIONING – now, I’m pretty sure it was on-the-fly AI closed captioning, so much less accurate that others, but still, YES PLEASE
  • I enjoyed the adorable two-year-old twins and the puppy that all escaped Djèlí Clark’s spouse and briefly joined us in one of the panels
  • You can join the text chat without feeling like you’re disturbing others listening to the panels.
  • No con crud (which is the whole reason we’re virtual now, but y’know, even when there isn’t a deadly pandemic, con crud is no fun!)
  • People who can’t travel to the con (whether because they can’t afford it, or health issues, or other issues) can participate in the events.

There are also disadvantages, of course:

  • Spontaneous hall/bar/room party conversations don’t work in the virtual tools that facilitate the panels and readings and such
  • No dealer’s den (which at Locus Weekend is ALL BOOKS, NOTHING BUT BOOKS, the biggest vendor is University Book Store bringing books by authors nominated for the awards [not just the books/collections nominated—also other stuff they have in stock by said authors]), and while I don’t always buy stuff at the den, it’s fun to browse.
  • While we’re on the subject of books: normally there are piles and piles of books on every table at the banquet and the organizers urge you to take these free books home. I missed coming home with a huge pile of books.
  • You don’t get that amplification of enthusiasm/joy/amusement that happens when other people in the audience laugh, or applaud, or otherwise signal they also agreeing with/laughing at/et cetera something a panelist or audience member said

It was a decent substitute for the in-person event. And I hope that now that we’re doing this for some conventions (WorldCon is going to be all virtual this year, as well), I hope that conventions find ways to make more content available to stream like this for at least supporting members going forward.

An alternate outfit. Though given my sun burn issues, if I had worn a cap like this without the rainbow parasol I would have really regretted it!

The rest of the weekend I spent sampling various streamed Pride events, or watching some queer movies that have been in my to-watch list on various streaming platforms for a while. I also took some time to take some selfies (and play some more with the tripod and related things which I have acquired with the eventual intention to make some more videos to post) so I could have a suitable new rainbow picture to put on yesterday’s post.

I missed the in-person aspects of the convention. And I missed not seeing the fabulousness of the Pride Parade, and hanging out at the festival.

But it’s better than getting sick!