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Slippery slopes and projection

“First they came for Alex Jones, and I said nothing because the entire point of that poem was a warning against letting fascist assholes like him have a voice in the first place.”

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There were a lot of people posting on social media about several of the big tech platforms removing Alex Jones’ podcasts, videos, and so forth from their services for repeated violation of rules against hate speech. A huge number of the alt-right types were making posts in the from of the poem, “First They Came For…” by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. Niemöller’s poem was a critique of the German intellectuals and religious leaders who sat quietly after the Nazis rose to power and began targeting various groups for harassment, imprisonment, and execution. It has been quote many times. Niemöller said that he never really wrote down a definitive version, but would recite variants of it at speeches me made in the years after the war. One of the most frequently quoted versions goes like this:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.

In case you aren’t familiar, Alex Jones is a radio host who also puts out his show on various Youtube channels and the like (or he did until this week) where he traffics in conspiracy theories and extreme rightwing fearmongering, while convincing people to buy his crappy dietary supplements and apocalypse survival gear. He spent years denouncing the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook, claiming that the murdered children never existed and that the parents were actors perpetuating an anti-gun hoax. His rants inspired his ravening fans to so harass some of the parents to the point of having to move several times over the years to escape the harassment, death threats, and vandalism.

Some of those parents have finally got a lawsuit going against Jones, and I am among the many people who hope they take him for every penny.

But the Sandy Hook parents aren’t his only victims. And people have been complaining to the various service providers who host his programs for years to take some action. Which they finally have.

Anyway, now that Jones’ podcasts and such have been removed from the Apple podcast library, YouTube, Facebook, and Spotify, everyone on the right is in a tizzy that this is the first step in a coming progrom against all conservative people. And because I retweeted a few of the best responses to this nonsense I saw, I suddenly had a bunch of them trying to convince me that this was a clear example of censorship whose slippery slope would lead to the oppressing of queer people such as myself.

There are several problems with these arguments. The first is that, despite what all these folks claim, Jones is not being targeted because he is Republican. He is not being targeted for who he is. He has been banned for things he has said and done. Specifically, the hate speech and the incitement to harass and worse. The justification of removing his content is clear, egregious, and repeated violation of long-standing policies forbidding hate speech and the like. Example: Facebook bans InfoWars and Alex Jones after calls for drag queens to be burned alive There’s no slippery slope from there to banning large swaths of people.

Second, this is, in some ways, like closing the barn door after the horse has run away. These platforms should have banned him years ago. He was allowed to spew his hate and lies and harass and cause the harassment of innocent people for years, all while profiting from the hate and lies. This is severely delayed justice, at best. He isn’t being censored, he is instead facing consequences for immoral, unethical, and in some cases illegal things he has done many, many times for many, many years.

Third, queer people are already punished by several of these services. YouTube is particularly notorious about disallowing ad revenue for videos that advocate for queer rights and so forth. They label any mention of queerness at all as sensitive “adult” material, even when it is just a trans person giving people make-up tips. I’ll believe these rightwing a-holes are concerned about oppression when I see them protesting YouTube’s treatment of queer people now.

Fourth, this isn’t censorship, it’s consequences. And the consequences aren’t coming from the government. Jones isn’t being carried off to a concentration camp by armed officers. There are people in this country being hauled away by armed officers of the government where they are being locked up for who they are, rather than anything they have done. And it isn’t rightwing people like Jones that it is happening to. So it is particularly infuriating that they’re making this argument now.

There are things happening in this country that could be described by Niemöller’s poem, but those actions are being undertaken by the Trump administration, all the while being cheered on by people like Alex Jones. Jones isn’t a victim, he’s one of the culprits.

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Weekend Update 7/7/2018: White people who think the police are fugitive slave catchers

l to r: Pool Patrol Paul, Permit Patty, BBQBecky [Image: Michael Harriot (Jasmine Edwards, HipHop DX, Emen)]

l to r: Pool Patrol Paul, Permit Patty, BBQ Becky—what do they have in common? [Image: Michael Harriot (Jasmine Edwards, HipHop DX, Emen)]

Yesterday’s edition of Friday Five included the story of a 12-year-old black kid who was mowing a lawn (which he had been hired to do) when neighbors called the cops on him. That was not the only episode of a white person calling the police on a black person this week: Pool Patrol Paul.

So, a woman and her daughter went to use the pool owned by the neighborhood Home Owners Association, of which the black woman is a member (which means she is one of the owners of the pool). There are a couple of different videos of the incident, with the guy explaining that it isn’t racial, he’s just enforcing the rules. A white woman in the background of one video points out that she wasn’t asked to show her ID. A few moments later, after the police determine the the black woman has a valid keycard to unlock the gate, and the white guy tries to imply that the black woman stole the key card from a valid resident, an different white woman says, “You didn’t make me sign in!” The guy has subsequently resigned from the board of the home owners association, resigned from his position as the “pool chairman” and either was fired or agreed to resign from his job.

The funniest take I’ve read on this was written by Michael Harriot: Sentient Marshmallow Calls Police on Black Woman for Swimming in Her Own Pool, which is where I grabbed the image above, because he has a theory as to why certain white people, as he asks, who do “white people believe the cops are their personal fugitive slave catchers. Are police supposed to be universal technical support for white people? Why are white people like this?”

At least Pool Patrol Paul remained non-violent, unlike Pool Patrol Paula (no relation): A white woman allegedly hit a black teen, used racial slurs and told him to leave a pool. Then she bit a cop. Last week a group of 15-year-olds showed up at a pool, invited there by a friend, and this woman started yelling at them that they couldn’t be there. The boys (and at least one other witness) say that she used a racial slur, which is what prompted one of the kids to start recording it on his phone. The phone really set her off, because he shouts and comes at him, trying to bat the phone away and she hits him several times. She asks angrily, “How does that feel?” after hitting him. The boys retreat, at least one can be heard very politely saying, “Yes, ma’am, we’re leaving.” Police, reviewing the video and talking to at least one witness at the pool, then got an arrest warrant and went to pick her up. She fought the two cops at her home, injuring both of them—biting one severally enough to break his skin. She’s been charged with assault and battery on the teen, plus two counts of assault on the cops. She’s out on bond, but she has also been fired from her job.

I saw at least one comment to the effect that Pool Patrol Paula, since she got violent with the cops, has some other issues and this shouldn’t be considered a racial case. That’s the wrong way of looking at it.

Let’s go to the case of Pool Patrol Paul insisting that he was only doing his duty as the pool chair person, which including making sure the facilities weren’t used by non-members. When it was pointed out that he didn’t ask anyone else there to prove they belonged, he dodged the question. One of the explanations given over the fact was that he simply didn’t recognize her, since she had bought the house and moved in recently.

Seems plausible, right?

One of the big disconnects that people who are not members of a marginalized group have about the nature of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so forth, is that bigotry is about feeling a burning hatred for those people. But bigotry is much, much more subtle than that. The video indicates that the pool was pretty crowded. It was a hot day, it was Independence Day, so a lot of people were there. It is not possible to believe that in that situation that he carefully assessed every face around the pool, ticking off names from his mental list. As two of the white women there pointed out, he wasn’t enforcing the rule that everyone sign in—until the black woman and her black daughter showed up.

Systemic bigotry is a subtle, insidious force that we absorb throughout our lives. It tints our perceptions, creating filters in our minds that we don’t process consciously. Our brains are really good at classifying things, people, and sounds we recognize. But it classifies them according to these assumptions that we don’t always understand.

I have no problem believing that Pool Patrol Paul did not literally think, upon seeing the two enter the area, “Uh, oh! Can’t let the n—–s in the pool!” It’s more subtle than that. All of the white skinned people moving around him registered to his subconscious as folks who belong, without him thinking about it. The racial issue made him notice the woman and her daughter, and once he noticed, only then did he think, “I don’t recognize them.”

He asked her her name and address. He went into the office, then came out and asked for her ID. In subsequent attempts to explain himself, he first claimed that he forgot the address by the time he got inside to look her up. Then he changed the story to say that the address she gave was for a part of the subdivision that hadn’t completed construction. Then he said that she gave two different addresses.

What really happened is: she gave him a name and her address. He went inside and looked that name up, and it was the name of a home association member registered at that address. But his gut told him she was lying (later he told the police that it’s possible the key card was stolen). So he went back and asked for her ID.

And the problem is that he never asked himself why his gut was telling him she didn’t belong. And given what statements have come out since, he still hasn’t asked himself that question.

Similarly with Paula—she seems to be a more inherently violent person, but again, it isn’t just that she’s violent, it’s why she immediately assumed those boys didn’t belong at the pool (where she was just a person using it herself; she wasn’t responsible for enforcing any rules), and therefore were legitimate targets for assault. When the cops came to her home a couple days later to arrest her, of course she was outraged! She had done nothing wrong, in her mind.

Michael Harriot was on to something with the comment about perceiving police as personal fugitive slave catchers. These incidents happen because on a fundamental level, people like Pool Patrol Paul and Paula, and BBQ Becky, and Permit Patty, and the neighbors who called the police on a 12-year-old for mowing a lawn, all perceive certain people as not belonging. More than that, they perceive the presence of (in these cases) black people in these places as a wrong that must be righted.

Until they understand that about themselves, they’re going to keep doing things like this, while loudly proclaiming that they aren’t bigots.

Oppressed Oppressors: Civility Isn’t What You Think

© Craig Froehle. Creative Commons license "Attribution-NonCommercial" .http://www.drawninpowerpoint.com

© Craig Froehle. Creative Commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial” http://www.drawninpowerpoint.com (click to embiggen)

“conservative: fuck your feelings snowflake libtards. Trump is here to end your political correctness, lock up immigrants, trump that bitch, grab her by the pussy, fuck you! 'I don't think I want you as a guest at my establishment.' conservatives: WHAT HAPPENED TO CIVILTY?”

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Civility = treating white people with respect. Political correctness = treating anyone else with respect'."

A lot of people were sharing the above tweet, which is nice and succinct. When I quoted it on twitter, I added, “I would amend that the civility = treating cis het nonliberal white people with respect AND defference, but otherwise nailed it!”

Because that’s the thing, it isn’t just about respect, it’s about a very different bar for the definition of respect. The folks who are up in arms about civility aren’t just used to being treated with respect, they are used to being respected as an authority or someone else who deserves deference and reverence and esteem. They are not referring to the most basic level of respect that every person is entitled do just for being human.

And they think that when other people don’t honor them in this way, that means they were justified in not treating other people as less than human.

It’s like they also have a nonlinear understanding of time, right? Their past actions and behaviors are being justified by the fact that people are calling them on the bigotry and intolerant behavior.

Full quote: “I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lies are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are prosecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must--at that moment--become the center of the universe.” —Eli Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

Full quote: “I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lies are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are prosecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must–at that moment–become the center of the universe.” —Eli Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

Weekend Update 6/30/2018: Hypocrisy, faux civility, and why we mustn’t stop fighting

“Mitch McConnell, 2016" 'One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama You will not fills this Supreme Court vacancy.'”

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We now know that Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s decision to leave the court was not his own. The White House has been pushing for it: Trump’s little known ties to Justice Kennedy & the scheme to nudge him out and Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening and What we’re reading: The White House’s subtle push for Kennedy’s retirement. What is particularly scary is the number of sources that say the phrase, “time is of the essence” when they were communicating with Kennedy. What would the alleged president and his advisors (including the billionaire Koch brothers) bring pressure to bear to push Kennedy out and get a more conservative justice confirmed less than 16 weeks before the midterm elections? What could the possible reasons be?

Well, there are at least two reasons. The simplest one is that if the Dems manage to take back the Senate, they could prevent Cadet Bonespur from appointing anyone new to the court. So at least some of the GOP operatives see this as their only chance to ensure future court rulings continue to take rights away from workers, women, queers, and everyone else that isn’t a Republican billionaire.

But that isn’t the only issue! Now that we know that Justice Kennedy’s son arranged for Trump to get a billion dollar loan, and that Trump has made references to Kennedy’s son within earshot of live microphones just about every time the Justice and the alleged president have been together in public, it seems extremely likely that among those dozens of sealed indictments that Robert Mueller has obtained over the last year or so is probably against Kennedy’s son. This could result, if any of the related indictments or Cadet Bonespur’s attempts to pardon (pre-emptively or not) key people winds up being appealed to the Supreme Court. While recusal is solely up to each Justice, it would be very unlikely that Kennedy would not recuse himself if his son was involved in a case before the Court.

Though it angers me enough that the Republicans stole a seat from Obama last year, and I’m not looking forward to what the court will do with another arch conservative on the bench, I do take heart that despite all the brave talk about a red wave, the people in the know (like those billionaire mentioned above) are acting as if there is a good chance that the Senate won’t have a Republican majority after November. So there is that, I guess.

In other hopeful news, the resistance is alive and well: Thousands across U.S. join ‘Keep Families Together’ march to protest family separation. And people have some great signs: 21 Signs From Americans Fed Up With Trump At Families Belong Together Marches.

The marches themselves may not directly accomplish something, but the turn-out indicates people are willing to take action (which includes voting in November).

“Hypocrisy is when Republicans spent eight years disrespecting, delegitimizing and obstructing Pres. Obama, but now say 'Come together to support our president (t)rump because his success is our success.'”

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Meanwhile, there have been continued mock outrage over things like a restaurant deciding it didn’t want to serve members of this administration that our aiding and abetting the kidnapping of children at the border, taking health care from tens of thousands, encouraging white supremacists to commit violence, and so forth. I don’t always agree with columnist Michelangelo Signorile, but this week I do: Fuck Civility. And an extra stron f– you to the editorial writers who seem to think that getting in the face of people who have either ordered the commission of these crimes (mass separation of families is defined under international law–the very agreements our country help promulgate after World War II–as genocide and is a crime against humanity) is somehow just as bad or worse than actually committing those heinous acts.


ETA: I hadn’t seen this interview with Hilary at the Guardian: Hillary Clinton: ‘What is more uncivil than taking children away?’

“Give me a break! What is more uncivil and cruel than taking children away? It should be met with resolve and strength. And if some of that comes across as a little uncivil, well, children’s lives are at stake.”

Who will judge the judges?

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed... that is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”

This was the judge’s rationale for giving such an incredibly light sentence (click to embiggen)

This is one of those news stories where I don’t want to wait until my Friday round-up of links to talk about it. Among the things voters did in the various states holding primaries on Tuesday, nearly 60% of the voters in one California district voters to recall (remove) a judge: Voters Recall Aaron Persky, Judge Who Sentenced Brock Turner.

The rest of this post is going to be about a sexual assault, including details that I found disturbing when reading earlier coverage of the case, and disturbing again while summarizing before stating my opinion about why the recall was justified. Don’t click through if you don’t want to read about such a crime… Read More…

Weekend Update 5/26/2018: Bad takes, small steps, and more to some stories

“If you're more angry at children for demanding change than the gun violence taking their lives, they your are the problem.”

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Once again I’m going to talk about some stories that either didn’t make it into this week’s Friday Five or that broke after I posted the weekly round up of links, or the add new information to something I’ve posted about before. Some of this stories feel awfully familiar. Because first up we have a few different news about school shootings. A topic that we all wish would stop being relevant, but I refuse to become ho-hum about them, so let’s get into this:

Suspect wounds teacher, fellow student in 23rd school shooting in 2018. So, we’re up to 23 of these for the year, and please note that that isn’t 23 mass shootings, it is specifically 23 school shootings. At least this one didn’t go as horrifically as some of the previous ones, I guess that’s good news? Teacher credited with disarming student in Indiana school shooting.

Moving back in time a mere week, there’s been some developments in the Texas school shooting: Texas school shooting victim family sues attacker’s parents. And I applaud this. Technically, they shouldn’t have to do this, because Texas already has a law on the books making the owner of a gun that’s used in a crime liable if they can’t prove that they adequately secured it. The problem is, that we have this really stupid mindset about parents whose kids get hold of guns. When a small child gets hold of a gun and it goes off, often killing the child, we never charge the parents. We say this stupid, “They’ve been punished enough.” No, no they haven’t. Because we refuse to treat those incidents at the acts of criminal negligence that that are, people think of them as senseless tragedies. As if an unsecured gun were the equivalent of on earthquake or some other natural phenomenon. If we started prosecuting this parents, it would change the perspective.

I’m especially in favor of this since the shooter’s father has been going on news shows and telling people that his son is the real victim here. No, that teen-ager harassed and stalked a girl for four months, then murdered her and nine other people. He isn’t a victim, he is a murderer. Of course it’s not just the father that I think needs punished. A lot of headline writers do, to. It isn’t that his victim refused his advances. The headlines should say, “Shooter Harassed His Victim for Months Before Killing Her.”

Meanwhile: Publix will suspend political donations after protest by Parkland students. Good. Donating to the NRA or to politicians who refuse to enact that laws such as universal background checks including for private sales (supported by 77% of gun owners, and 87% of people who do not own guns) or closing the boyfriend loophole should be a toxic act that gets you shunned from polite society.

“Self-hatred is NOT therapy”

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Let’s get away from depressing topics and move to some good news: Hawaii becomes 12th state to ban ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ youth. Hurrah! This so-called therapy is actually torture, and has been proven to lead to suicide and self-destructive behavior. And it never works. State-by-state we’re getting this insanity banned. Which is sort of amazing given the current political climate. We need to keep this fight going!

Finally, an interesting series of developments in the case of the lone man who accused George Takei of sexual assault last year: Exclusive: George Takei’s Accuser Has Changed His Story of Drugging and Assault. And it’s not that he merely was inconsistent with details, he admits that he lied about several things. The story goes into great depth about things such as: the lack of additional accusers, the victim’s story isn’t consistent with medical facts about drugs available at the time, when that is explained to him by two doctors the victim agrees that there probably never was an assault, a prosecutor’s analysis of the victim’s story is that no assault occurred, and more. My favorite thing is that the accuser’s boyfriend at the time (who was also an acquaintance of Takei) said his boyfriend never mentioned it for years. Also, the four people other news sources mentioned (but never named) who “corroborated” some of the accusers story, well, not so much. “He’s been telling it like a joke for years that time the Star Trek actor made a pass at him.”

As the reporter points out, in other cases of accusations of sexual assault, once the first report was made, dozens or more other people came forward to tell similar tales, and even more people came forward to say that they had been warned about the harasser. Not one single person has come forward with a similar tale about Takei. No one. No whispers, no rumors.

And now the only accuser says it was all a misunderstanding…

Don’t boo! Register to vote, confirm that you’re registered, show up, and vote!

“Your excuse sucks: 1. My vote doesn't matter, 2. I don't have time to vote, 3. Voting is too complicated, 4. Not voting is my way of voting against the system.”

“Your excuse sucks… ” (click to embiggen)

Many years ago, before my state switched to all mail-in voting, I was walking from the bus to my office on a Tuesday morning that happened to y Election Day. And I had walked over to the polling place (two blocks from my place at the time) and voted before I caught my bus to work. My office at the time was in a building that was literally across the street (in different direction) from the offices housing two of the local television stations. And I saw on the sidewalk ahead of me a cameraman and a young woman holding a microphone.

When I got to here, she stepped up and said, “Excuse me, sir, may we ask you a few questions?”

The camera was now pointed at me. I said, “Sure.”

“Did you know there was a primary election today?”

“Yes, of c–” I answered.

She interrupted me. “And did you vote this morning?”

I grinned. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”

“I’m sure you know that many people don’t vote in the primary, sir. Why did you vote? Was there a particular issue on the ballot that drove you to vote today?”

I know that I blinked dumbly at her for a moment before I said. “Um, I always vote. I have never missed a primary, general election, or special election since I was old enough to register. Voting every time is what you’re supposed to do…”

But before I had finished that answer, she had dropped the microphone, turned to the cameraman and made a slashing motion across her throat. “Thank you, sir” she said perfunctorily, and turned her attention to someone else walking down the sidewalk.

Apparently that wasn’t he answer she was looking for.

I was reminded of this story because a lot of people I know are re-tweeting and re-blogging a comment from a blogger who I have frequently quoted before about how important it is to show up and vote. Except he doesn’t quite say it that way. In an earlier draft of this post I quoted him and then picked apart his arguments, but that isn’t really useful.

While it’s true that some demographics show up less consistently to vote, that isn’t the only problem. There are a lot of people pointing fingers at the voters for not showing up, but doing so ignores at least two other major issues:

  • Voters who do show up, but cast their votes for third-party candidates who can’t wint
  • Voters who look at the choices and are appalled that they get to choose between an ultra-conservative and a moderate conservative, so they don’t show up.

Both of these are different aspects of a big blind spot that most people suffer from and that the major media outlets completely ignore: The center is not where anyone pretends it is. The Democratic party is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a liberal party. The two major parties in this country are not sitting at opposite ends of a spectrum. The Republicans, yes, are super, neanderthal-ishly conservative, but the Democrats, are also conservative. Going by voting records, 90-some percent of the elected democrats in congress are more conservative than the majority of the U.S. population on topics of: gun control, health care for all, gay rights, women’s rights, tax policy, Social Security funding, and allowing businesses to discriminate against people for religious reasons.

And the establishment Democratic operation keeps endorsing candidates in that right-of-center realm. Which makes a lot of the natural Democratic base roll their eyes and either not show up, or come to the polls and throw away their votes by voting for third-party candidates.

There have been a number of primaries in various states in the last month or so where unprecedented numbers of Democratic voters are showing up. Some precincts ran out of ballots, so many more people than ever have before showed up! And in a number of these races the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending money endorsing a candidate who they think will appeal to the Trump voters. And in a lot of those races, all those extra democratic voters showing up are voting for candidates that actually espouse a few liberal policies. And they’re winning.

I don’t buy the line from the DCCC that those extra voters are picking losers. I think it’s the DCCC that keeps picking losers. Of the excuses I hear from people who either don’t vote and throw their votes away other ways is that they don’t feel they have a real choice. Even in races where the Republicans are fielding a foaming-at-the-mouth racist, and the Democrats are putting up someone who looks middle of the road. And that’s because the middle-of-the-road guy keeps making conciliatory remarks about the blatant racism, et al, of his opponent. And while there actually is a difference between the two, to a lot of folks looking on, it just doesn’t seem that way.

And we’ve been bitten before. The Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of Obama’s presidency, and they didn’t enact any liberal policies. They spent two years begging and pleading with a few slightly less rightwing than Attila the Hun Republicans to get them to support a half-assed watered-down version of a couple of their promised initiatives. Even with more than 70% of the voters approving it, they didn’t even try to repeal Don’t-Ask- Don’t-Tell (allowing queer people to serve openly in the military) until the lame duck session after they lost their majority in the first midterm.

Yes, I agree with the blogger I alluded to above that it is on us to show up and vote. It’s on us to encourage others to show up and vote. But one of the ways we can encourage them to do that, is to give them candidates they actually believe in.

I’m looking at races this week where the milquetoast right-of-center candidate backed by the establishment Dems lost to a left-of-center candidate who enunciated some progressive ideas. I’m noticing that those are the races where people are turning out. I’m noticing that turn out is typical or less than typical in races where the only choices progressive voters are getting is several right-of-center safe bets.

That’s why, after a rather long discussion with a poor schmuck working the phone bank for the DCCC trying to convince me to increase my monthly donation to the DCCC because taking back the House is important, that I stopped my monthly donation to the DCCC, and increased the amount I’m giving every month to Run For Something and Let America Vote. And I’m going to keep picking actual progressive candidates to donate to directly.

And don’t bark at me about showing up. I’ve been showing up at Primary and General Election since 1978. Every one. I confess that I have missed about three Special Elections that happened way off-cycle in that time.

Now, we just need to get the rest of the liberals to do the same.

Bigot Bulletin: Principal and Police Officer who harassed students at Oregon high school are both fired

“Good news: An oregon high school police officer and principal have been fired for anti-LGBT discrimination, including telling gay students they were going to hell, and forcing them to read the Bible as punishment for being gay.”

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I decided that this can’t wait until Friday. This is an update to a news story I shared as part of a previous Weekend Update: Oregon School Officials Who Discriminated Against Gay Kids Fired.

For some background: Gay teen says she went to school resource officer after getting bullied — and he told her she’s going to hell. The “resource officer” is a local police officer assigned to the school supposedly for the purpose of protecting the students. But he wasn’t the only problem. The principal of the school punished gay kids who reported incidents of being harassed (including at least one incident where the principal’s son nearly ran two of the other kids down with his car while yelling anti-gay slurs). Teachers who tried to help the kids in varying ways were retaliated against by the Principal and the district Superintendent, and so on.

So the Oregon Department of Education sent in an investigator. The local officials admitted to several issues, including that they had forced the gay kids to read and recite passages from the Bible as part of their punishment. The ODE investigator issued a report finding that the actions of the officials probably constituted illegal discrimination under Oregon law as well as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of church and state. A final finding was pending, but the state ordered to school district to come to a settlement with the kids and their parents by the end of April. They didn’t.

During that time, many more former and current students came forward, with more incidents of anti-LGBT and racial discrimination. Meanwhile, the ACLU was pursuing a lawsuit against the district.

Monday things came to a head: ACLU OF OREGON REACHES SWEEPING SETTLEMENT WITH NORTH BEND SCHOOL DISTRICT OVER LGBTQ DISCRIMINATION AND BIBLE READING.

How sweeping?

  • Principal fired
  • District dismisses Resource Officer and requests local police assign a new officer
  • District will create a diversity committee (keep in mind that teachers already tried to set up a Gay-Straight Alliance and were stopped by the principal) which will hold celebrations for Coming Out Day and Ally Week and will issue an annual report on how the school is doing on issues of diversity, inclusion, et cetera
  • District will hire an anti-discrimination expert to help them craft policies to appropriately respond to harassment and discrimination
  • District will donate $1000 to a local queer support group

Additionally, as a result of the state investigation, the district will be under supervision of the state ODE for at least five years while all of this is monitored. The remaining bit of less than awesome news from my point of view on this is that even though the state’s investigation and the discovery process of the lawsuit found that the district Superintendent knew about all of this and committed some of the retaliation from teachers who tried to help the queer kids, he isn’t being fired. Maybe everyone assumes with the state breathing down his neck he’ll behave?

I get such a bee in my bonnet on these stories because of my own experiences being bullied as a kid. More than one teacher and administrator told my parents that until I acted like “the other boys” or “normal” there was nothing they could do to prevent the bullying incidents. Never mind that some of the worst bullying came from teachers. In middle school I was called “faggot” and “sissy” by four specific teachers far more often than most of the other kids. And then there was the time I was the one threatened with expulsion for being bullied again and again, unless I attending regular counseling sessions where, apparently, the counselor was trying to teach me to act like a normal boy.

A lot of people think that those kinds of days are behind us, but these incidents happening for the last several years at this school are merely one of many such cases. Fortunately, the ACLU keeps coming in to represent the students, and again and again the districts wind up paying big penalties for their discrimination, bigotry, and bullying. As Dan Savage has asked (many times) when will public school administrators get it through their thick heads?

And I agree with Dan on another thing. This story is a good reminder to go make a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon!

Weekend Update 5/12/2018: At least some good news

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Yep, it’s a weekend.

Even though I love the show and have watched it faithfully for five years, I wasn’t very surprised when Brooklyn 99 was canceled by Fox. One of the things the show excelled at (besides doing diversity right) was tackling important issues in a thoughtful way that was still funny hell. And let’s face it, diversity, thoughtfulness, and nuance are not exactly in Fox’s wheelhouse. Which isn’t to say the Fox’s entertainment network doesn’t carry diverse show. What I mean is that the people who make the business decisions are less likely to feel sympathy for such shows. No matter how much executives (at any network) may insist that it’s just about numbers and the bottom line, you can point to many examples of shows with worse numbers being kept around. Bias and sympathy do figure into how they see the numbers.

Goodbye, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’ And thank you. It is a great show it is funny, and I agree with Mark Hamill who said on twitter that it was one of the great workplace comedies of all time, up there with shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi.

Fortunately, the twitter storm and fan petitions and praise from famous actors and comedians seems to have paid off: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ saved by NBC and Brooklyn Nine-Nine Cast Praises Fans After NBC Saves Canceled Fox Show: ‘You Did This!’.

It is worth noting that among the NBC executive comments quoted in the various articles about the show is a reference to the fact the Brooklyn 99 was a show created and produced by a division of NBC-Universal, and sold to Fox originally. Not being a show that Fox made internally means that profits from syndication deals for reruns are not as high as they would be for a show of similar popularity that had been wholly owned by Fox. This also probably figured into NBC’s decision to give the show a 13 episode sixth season. They get a lot of good PR out of the move, will presumably get acceptable ratings for those 13 episodes, and will get just a little bit more out of syndication having these additional episodes int he can.

I fully expect this to be the final season of the show. I suspect the writers and show runners will think of it that way: write a good send-off that leaves a possibility for continuing, but don’t count on it.

Related: I think it was not good that a number of fans who were screaming, before the NBC announcement, about their fave show being removed were doing so by denigrating other shows. First of all, come on, don’t attack things other people like merely because you don’t. It doesn’t matter how much you may dislike another series (whether it be movies, TV shows, books, whatever), that doesn’t mean that there are not people who genuinely like it. It’s okay to critique, especially if a show is overtly racist (I’m looking at you, Roseanne reboot) or gratuitously misogynist (and now looking at you, Supernatural), but dismissal is not the same as critique.

There other thing, it isn’t really relevant. The shows most people were mentioning were not Fox shows. At least if you’re going to make an observation about, “How dare they cancel my fave while keeping X on the air” choose something that involves the same they. Pick something that Fox is keeping on the air to make your comparison to, like the very derivative 9-1-1, for instance.

Anyway, at least those of us who love the show will get some more Brooklyn 99. I can just quietly sob in the corner over hear that we can’t say the same for another of my favorites: Fox Cancels Fan Favorite Lucifer After Three Seasons.


Now let’s have a couple things that are more typical for a weekend update: Anti-Gay Former Michigan Assistant AG Loses Appeal To Keep His Law License. I’ve written before about this self-loathing closet case who target, stalked, harassed, and encouraged others to harass and send death threats to a young gay man who had been elected student body president of the same university the assistant attorney general had graduated from years earlier. Note that the guy used state equipment to do the stalking and to post the online harassment, as well as doing a lot of it when he was supposed to be working. In one incident, when neighbors had called in the suspicious car that had been circling the block where the student lived, the guy lied to police saying that he was staking out someone for a legitimate investigation.

Originally the Michigan Attorney General claimed to have investigated the instances and said the guy was merely expressing opinions. Then, after the parents of the harassed gay student were interviewed on TV about the incident, a prosecutor announced he would run against the AG to clean up the department (and polls showed he might win), then suddenly the AG asked an semi-retired judge to perform an outside investigation. While that judge couldn’t reveal the specifics of the original internal investigation, his own report indicated that all the evidence necessary to justify firing the assistant AG had been contained in the first investigation. Anyway, the anti-gay assistant AG was fired, then disbarred, and now he’s lost his last appeal of the disbarment.

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

Now, let’s hope that something similar happens to some school officials: Oregon school allegedly forced LGBTQ student to read Bible as punishment. Before anyone points out that there is a hearing coming up, please note that in the initial official report, the administrator who is disputing that these incidents constitute discrimination has admitted that the student was forced to read the Bible as punishment. So there isn’t really an “allegedly” there. The administrator and supervisor are only disputing that this and other incidents don’t count as discrimination. They aren’t denying that the things happened.

This is a public school, therefore a government-run institution, and the Constitution conservatives claim to love prohibits the establishment of religion, which means while acting in your official capacity you can’t use your religion to justify actions, and you sure as hell can’t force people to read your holy book to try to convince them to agree with you. Which, when you make a queer kid read the parts of the Bible you think condemn homosexuality as “punishment” of the crime of complaining about being called a faggot on school grounds, is clearly what the school official was doing.

The Oregon Department of Education has already made the finding that these incidents probably (duh) violate the state’s anti-discrimination law and the Constitution. I sure hope the ACLU is involved and these administrators get sued into oblivion.

Weekend Update 4/28/2018: A lot going on here…

© Tom Toles. Clcik to embiggen.

Ryan’s Dismissal Of House Chaplain Sparks Outrage And Suspicion. One of the chaplain’s prayer’s included the line: “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Yeah, the Republicans can’t stand that kind of radical religion!

Asking you to stop punching us in the face and stabbing us in the back isn’t being disrespectful… (click to embiggen)

NPR: Conservatives Are Sad Because No One Likes Them.

I’m just going to turn this one over to Dan Savage:

The “average American conservative” spends the day attacking women, people of color, gays and lesbians, illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, trans people, non-Christians, leftwing Christians, Democrats, progressives, liberals, sex havers, sex workers, people who’ve had abortions, people who use birth control, single moms, football players, basketball players, late night talk show hosts, teachers, actors, singers, Olympians, “Hollywood,” high school students who survived mass school shootings, the poor, the disabled, Gold Star parents, Gold Star widows, environmentalists, news reporters, cable news anchors who don’t work for Rupert Murdoch, rappers, college professors, college students, union members, scientists, non-scientists who believe in science, the elderly, “takers” on Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare, people who live in big cities and blue states… and then they run to NPR to whine about how nobody likes them. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

I don’t know how many times we have to say this: there aren’t “both sides” to this thing. One side is constantly attacking the other, and then insist that even if all we do is protest being constantly dehumanized and worse, that we’re the aggressors.

And it’s no longer just queer people they’re going after. Again, I’ll let Dan explain it:

I’m old enough to remember when most of the attacks were directed at queers. Or that’s how it felt in the 1980s, anyway, when I was a young queer. The AIDS Crisis, Robert Mapplethorpe, Anita Bryant, Jesse Helms, and Ronald Reagan. It felt like—what’s the expression? Oh, right: like we were being bombarded daily with murderous disrespect. That I can sit down and make list of the people being attacked daily by conservatives now and that list includes football players, to say nothing of late-night talk show hosts, teachers, and the FBI… it blows my fucking mind. They don’t like ANYBODY and they can’t figure out why no one likes them?

“Can you name all 59 women who came forward against Cosby? Can you name half of them? Can you name 5? Would you recognize them out of context? Do you want an autograph? Cool. So can we agree that women don't make rape accustions to become famous?”

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Bill Cosby convicted on three counts of sexual assault.

Five universities revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees after sexual assault conviction.

I used listened to some Cosby comedy albums my parents owned so much, that I could recite entire routines from memory, with appropriate pauses and verbal sound effects. After reading some of the stories of the 59 women who came forward… well, I can’t bring myself to listen to his voice.

Always shifting the blame… (click to embiggen)

The “Incel Rebellion” Is Misogynist Terrorism. So Why Do So Many People Still Put the Blame on Women?

The Toronto Van Attack Suspect Was Obsessed With Rejection From Women. He Is Not Alone Among Violent Men.

Why are ‘incels’ so angry? The history of the little-known ideology behind the Toronto attack.

Unfortunately society brews a toxic stew of slut-shaming women, telling young men that the only way to be a man is to never feel empathy or treat others with respect, and then we wonder why things like this happen. That’s not all that’s in play, here. It takes an incredibly big mass of hubris to keep insisting that nothing that is wrong in your life could possibly be your fault. Think about the cognitive dissonance that has to be going on: on the one hand most of these guys have embraced the notion that they are not as attractive as other men and so forth, but they also believe that they can do nothing wrong. It ought to make their heads explode.

Now, me bringing up the toxic double-standards of society is not to say, in any way, they these guys are victims. There comes a point where a person should learn to question their assumptions, to question and examine the things they’ve been taught, look around at the world and all the evidence in it, and ask themselves if maybe some of those things are f—ed up. It’s called growing up.

These guys have no one but themselves to blame.

That’s enough about that. I have errands to do and an Avengers movie to see. Time to go be productive!

One person can only do so much... or cross out the only, and One person can do so much.

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