Tag Archive | news

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:

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

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

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

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

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

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?:

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

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:

Friday Five (love is beautiful edition)

Black Lives Matter. Black LGBTQ Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

We have reached the final Friday in June, aka Pride Month.

Since this is Pride Weekend, I decided that this week’s Friday Five is going to skip certain topics. Also, I’ve got a four-day weekend which I will be spending attending Locus Awards Weekend and Pride virtually. Should be interesting!

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories about homophobes and other haters, five stories about the blue & rainbow wave, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Hundreds of rainbow flags are flying in a small town thanks to a 13-year-old.

Aimee Stephens won at SCOTUS but fight for trans rights isn’t over.

90-year-old comes out because he can’t forget the man he fell in love with 70 years ago.

Supreme Court: LGBT discrimination ruling supported by 9 in 10 adults – Almost every single American agrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling banning workplace discrimination for LGBT+ people.

After a man ripped down a small town’s Pride flag, the residents took to the streets – The town only has 25,000 people, but they poured into the streets to send the message that “Watertown won’t stand for this.”.

This Week in Homophobes and Haters:

5 examples that prove the NRA hates LGBTQ people as much as gun control – If you think the NRA and its leaders confine themselves to Second Amendment issues, you’re wrong.

One of the nation’s largest conversion therapy networks is disbanding – Hope for Wholeness, an “ex-gay” ministry with a presence in at least 15 states, advocated “freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.”.

AG Becerra adds Idaho to restricted state travel list after anti-trans laws.

Christian pundits say homosexuality is a bigger sin than slavery, so Black people should get over it. Um, what?

Jeffrey Dahmer Fan Accused of Mutilating, Torturing Gay Teen, But Police Say It Wasn’t a Hate Crime.

This Week in the Blue & Rainbow Wave:

Gay congressional candidate Ritchie Torres destroyed the most anti-LGBTQ politician in New York – In what is considered the most Democratic district in the nation, a primary victory is pretty much a direct road to Washington D.C..

Jamaal Bowman declares victory over Rep. Eliot Engel in NY primary upset; mail-in ballots still uncounted.

Victory Fund Endorses 27 More LGBTQ Candidates for 2020; LGBTQ People Running in Key State Legislative Races.

Florida Democrats gain vote-by-mail advantage.

Trump Lawyer: If You Hate LGBTQ Rights, Vote Trump.

In Memoriam:

Gay former SF supervisor Harry Britt, who succeeded Harvey Milk, dies at 82.

Joel Schumacher: Reluctant and Conflicted Gay Trailblazer.

Ian Holm Dies: ‘Lord Of The Rings’ & ‘Alien’ Star Was 88.

Ian Holm, Shakespearean Actor Who Played Bilbo Baggins, Dies at 88.

Peter Jackson Recounts Working With Ian Holm on Final Film Performance.

Things I wrote:

The Symbols of Pride Have Always Been Fluid.

Remember: the First Pride was a Riot Against Police Brutality.

The law is often a tool of oppression, or, more lessons from 50 years of Pride.

Still a joyful, radical fairy—and still proud of all my fellow survivors.

Videos!

Ahead of the Curve Trailer (HD):

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

Billy Porter & Pose cast perform “Love Yourself” for Pose-A-Thon special – LGBTQ Gay Pride Month:

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

Fab The Duo – Our Love Is Resistance (OFFICIAL Music Video):

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

Born This Way | Virtual Boston Gay Men’s Chorus:

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

Panic! At The Disco – Bohemian Rhapsody (Live) [from the Death Of A Bachelor Tour]:

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

Friday Five (white entitlement edition)

We have reached the third Friday in June, aka Pride Month.

And even though it has only been a week since the last Friday Five doesn’t it feel as if it’s been a rough year or two since?

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: a story of this day, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about the fight of justice, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about science, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Story of the Day:

From Juneteenth to the Tulsa massacre: What isn’t taught in classrooms has a profound impact – On the eve of Juneteenth, educators said the history of systemic racism in this country and the contributions of Black people have been erased.

Stories of the Week:

Tucker Carlson Expertly Trolled By Owner Of Porn Site ‘IsMyGirl’ – Tucker Carlson went off the rails again, this time attacking porn sites who monetize homemade explicit photos and videos, then promptly got pwned by the owner of one of those sites.

L.A. County has found the cause of its hourslong poll lines. It wasn’t the new voting machines – Voters waited for hours to cast ballots in California’s Super Tuesday primary March 3.

Elite CIA unit that developed hacking tools failed to secure its own systems, allowing massive leak, an internal report found. Remember this the next time the FBI, et al get up in arms about Apple not giving them a backdoor into your phone and so on…

How the Name ‘Karen’ Became a Stand-in for White Entitlement.

Please stop the beat: why we’ve had enough of musical episodes .

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Understanding the generation gap within the LGBTQ community – Many generational issues separate the LGBTQ community — and also bring them together.

Neil Gorsuch embarrasses his conservative backers with pro-LGBTQ ruling.

HRC To Sue Trump Administration for Eliminating Anti-Discrimination Health Care Protections.

Gender identity: The difference between gender, sex and other need-to-knows.

Openly Gay Black Bishop Ordained by Missouri Episcopalians.

This Week in Demanding Justice:

Arrest Warrant and Indictment Issued in Two Separate Murders of Transgender Women Last Week.

Families Of Two Black Men Found Publicly Hanged In CA Believe They Were Lynched – Communities are demanding investigations and justice for Malcolm Harsch and Robert Fuller, found hanging from trees in Victorville and Palmdale. Police said they found “no foul play” in Mr. Harsch’s death, and ruled Mr. Fuller’s death a suicide.

Trans woman killed by cruel teen who returned to scene of crime to shoot her dead body again.

Police Work Isn’t as Dangerous as You May Think.

Trump Campaign Tied To Second Leader of White Nationalist Party.

This Week in the Pandemic:

It Doesn’t Look Like the Protests Are Causing a COVID-19 Spike – What does that mean for other outdoor activities?

COVID-19 case clusters offer lessons and warnings for reopening.

California requires masks statewide in bid to slow coronavirus spread.

10 states are seeing their highest average of daily new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started.

Texas coronavirus hospitalizations hit record highs for a full week.

This Week in Science and Technology:

Scientists Have Discovered Vast Unidentified Structures Deep Inside the Earth – Scientists combed through nearly 30 years of earthquake data to probe huge and mysterious objects near the Earth’s core.

Asian giant hornet found in Bellingham.

Endangered cheetahs snapped in award-winning photos.

Scientists Find The Biggest Soft-Shelled Egg Ever, Nicknamed ‘The Thing’.

Black hole plasma jets are shaped like bell-bottoms – Streams of plasma shooting away from galaxies flare at the ends.

In Memoriam:

Jean Kennedy Smith, former Ambassador and last sibling of JFK, diesv- She played a key role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Legendary Batman writer, Denny O’Neil dies at age 81.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 6/13/2020: Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, and Dang it Wear a Mask!

Confessions of a homo godparent, or, Transphobes not welcome here.

Sunday Funnies, part 40.

Supreme Court rules that existing federal law prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in workplace.

Tuesday Tidbits 6/16/2020: Differing definitions of tyranny….

Videos!

So Much News, So Little Time: Aunt Jemima & New Trump Tell-Alls:

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

Supreme Court Hits Trump Where It Hurts With DACA And LGBTQ Decisions:

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

Supreme Court Rules on LGBTQ Rights, Police Reform Gains Steam: A Closer Look:

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

Facial Recognition: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

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

Nick Pes – The Feeling (Music Video):

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

Supreme Court rules that existing federal law prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in workplace

This is a recreation of one the the two flags Gilbert Baker orignally created from Pride.

This is a recreation of one the the two flags Gilbert Baker orignally created from Pride.

I must admit, I did not expect there to be good news for queer people from the Supreme Court this year. The best I hoped for is that things wouldn’t get substantially worse. So when I saw the first headline this morning, I didn’t believe it: The US Supreme Court Just Ruled In Favor Of Protecting LGBTQ Workers
. I figured this had to be a joke. No way would this court, with two Trump-appointed arch conservatives on it, rule in favor of queer people! Right?

Yet, it did. And one of Trump’s appointees wrote the opinion!

It’s a 6-3 ruling, which is also unexpected. I want to pause here to point out that one of the rationalizations many Republican politicians have been giving for supporting Trump was that he had promised to appoint conservative judges that would start taking rights away from all us queer people. And one of those justices and just voted the other way. What was it a particular angel said? Oh, yes: “Evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction.”

One thing that is important to note about this decision is that it is about interpretation of legislation. This ruling does not assert that this is about a constitutional principal. So, if Congress passed a law amending the Civil Rights act of 1964 to change the verbiage of this section of the act (and whoever is President at the time of such passage signs it into law), this could all go away.

Clearly the Democrats currently controlling the House of Representatives aren’t going to vote for such a change, so there isn’t an immediate danger. But it is worth remembering this.

“Gay people exist. There is nothing we can do with public policy that makes more of us exist or less of us exist. You guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist, but you don't make any less of us exist. You just are arguing in favor of discrimination. Politics with Jared and Dave”

Gay people exist…

On the other hand, this case would appear to invalidate the reasoning the Trump administration used for writing the anti-trans rule that was announced on Friday. The policy that health care providers can discriminate against transgender people relies on the argument that when the Affordable Care Act says providers can not discriminate against an individual based on sex, that the term “sex” does not include gender identity. But today’s ruling says the opposite: it lays out that discrimination on the basis of sex does include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The reasoning is summed up in this sentence from the majority opinion: “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.”

Now, this doesn’t settle everything, and I’m sure there are going to be multiple legal challenges involving this, but I think we should all take a moment to savor a win.

Today’s announcements from the Supreme Court had two more pieces of bad news for Trump and his alt-right cronies:

California’s ‘sanctuary’ cities rules stay in place after Supreme Court rejects Trump’s challenge.

Gun-Rights Appeals Turned Away by U.S. Supreme Court. There were ten different cases pending before the court where the court could have significantly expanded the definition of the right to bear arms and therefore invalidate some state restrictions. The court turned all of those away, leaving those restrictions in place for now (and signaling that if other states enacted the same restrictions, they would likely be left intact, as well).

Weekend Update 6/13/2020: Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, and Dang it Wear a Mask!

Time once again for a post in which I link to stories that either didn’t make the cut for this week’s Friday Five, or broke after I composed the Friday Five, or are an update to a story I’ve linked to and ranted commented upon in a previous post. There was a whole lot of news that broke yesterday (in addition to the stuff I wrote about in the evening) so it’s taken me longer than I liked to figure out which ones to talk about.

First, some very sad news: Two Black Transgender Women Murdered Amid Nationwide Racial Justice Protests. In case you forgot what the protests are about: society far too often treat black lives as disposal. And here we are again.

Speaking of: Police body camera footage shows black man pleading ‘I can’t breathe’ during 2019 Oklahoma arrest. As the headline says, this is a case from over a year ago. A case the the officers have largely thus far escaped any consequences. The body cam footage is pretty damning. Will there actually be consequences now? I guess we can hope.

Immigrants stage a hunger strike for Black lives inside ICE detention facility. Remember that almost all of the immigrants are being illegally detained by the U.S. And all of them are being held in conditions that violate not just our laws, but also internal law. And the reason this is happening is because our current federal administration values people of color even less than the existing systemic racism of our society as a whole. These immigrants understand that their plight is intimately tied to all the forces that make the Black Lives Matter movement necessary.

Meanwhile, there is still a pandemic going on: Eastern Washington COVID-19 case counts continue to climb, especially in young people. And of course the communities that have been most resistant to any measures to limit transmission of the disease are where cases are spiking, now.

I’m only including this next article because it is an excellent example of writing a news story with absolutely no useful information: Why are Washington state’s coronavirus cases on the rise again?

On the other hand, apparently sometimes the Times remembers it’s a newspaper… Fox News runs digitally altered images in coverage of Seattle’s protests, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. It’s not just Fox News that is doing this. Local station, KOMO, has run fake pictures and false stories. It seems local stations in other markets that all happen to be owned by Sinclair (which in many ways is worse than Fox) are running this fake stories about what’s happened in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood once the state police, national guard, and riot cops were pulled out. The police have not abandoned the neighborhood. They’ve reduced their presence to the number necessary to respond to 911 calls, that’s it. And people in the neighborhood are not locking people out or extorting people or even walking around armed.

What is happening? People have planted community vegetable gardens. They have set up a food coop. They are (at save social distances) singing, and playing music and just chilling. You know, being a neighborhood rather than a war zone. One former co-worker of mine who happens to live up there posted elsewhere, “It’s basically a street festival.”

There was one other topic I was going to include, but my rant on the single link got long enough that I think it needs a separate post. So I’m going to close this here.

Friday Five (don’t fall for the bunk edition)

Click to embiggen

We have reached the second Friday in June, aka Pride Month.

I haven’t written as much about Pride so far as I meant to. Part of this the that so very much is going on in the world, and I feel a bit like a broken record pointed out that the Stonewall Riots were also a protest against police brutality and the leaders of that first rebellion were people of color and trans or gender nonconforming… but I do need to write some more and I will.

Meanwhile, welcome to 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 science fiction, five stories about police misconduct and related injustice, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Queensland researchers using drone for turtle survey capture spectacular pictures.

A Long Childhood May Be How Crows and Jays Evolved Their Smarts .

How Apples Go Bad.

Even Southern Baptists Are Celebrating the Removal of Confederate Monuments.

Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop – Officer A. Cab.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Alex Sanchez’s New Gay Y.A. Novel Reimagines a DC Comic Superhero.

How do we celebrate Pride when police are still beating & killing us? – LGBTQ civil rights and black civil rights histories intersect on many issues — with violence and police brutality among them.

Top Latin music star Raymix came out as his song hit #1 on the charts. Here’s why.

Judas Priest’s Rob Halford Offers Advice for Closeted Gay Metalheads.

Crowds turn out to protest outside Ketchikan shop that reportedly refused service for same-sex wedding.

This Week in the Pandemic:

Study: 100% face mask use could crush second, third COVID-19 wave.

Covid-19 Patient Gets Double Lung Transplant – The operation is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. The patient, a woman in her 20s, had been healthy, but the coronavirus devastated her lungs.

These Factors Will Determine What The Next COVID Outbreak Will Look Like.

Coronavirus: more than a dozen US states see record high of new cases.

Trump rally attendees must agree not to sue campaign over potential coronavirus exposure.

This Week in Science Fiction:

Fresh off a Nebula Award and kicking off a book deal, West Seattle writer Cat Rambo speaks about craft, George Floyd protests and more.

The Story of Us, or, Read a Fucking Book Once In Awhile, Why Don’t You?: Empathy, Crisis, and the Function of Art Right Now.

Rogue One Revisited.

Five SFF Works Inspired by RPGs.

How JK Rowling Betrayed the World She Created – Gabrielle Bellot on Transphobia and Growing Up with the Harry Potter Universe.

This Week in the Police Brutality and Other Injustice:

This New Jersey City Disbanded Their Police in 2013.

Chicago police made coffee and popcorn in US Rep. Bobby Rush’s office while shopping plaza was being looted, he says.

‘Preposterous’: Court-appointed lawyer in Michael Flynn case slams DOJ attempt to drop it.

Police union loses fight to keep identity of cop who killed Black trans man Tony McDade a secret.

Opinion | It’s Time to Judge Cops by Their Actions .

In Memoriam:

He Left Us Better Than He Found Us: Remembering Activist Ron Simmons.

Bonnie Pointer of The Pointer Sisters Dead at 69.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 6/6/2020: Zooming asteroids! And less fun things.

The Cabal That Wasn’t or, SF/F award numbers don’t mean what you think they mean.

Tuesday Tidbits 6/9/2020: Not quite a tinpot dictator, yet.

A white homo devil reflects on years of so-called free speech.

None of those statues mean what you think they mean—bless your heart.

Videos!

Trump Defends the Confederacy, Complains About Polls: A Closer Look:

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

Voter Suppression Plagues Georgia’s Primary Election While Trump Sues CNN Over Low Poll Numbers:

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

Bill & Ted Face the Music – Teaser Trailer – Warner Bros. UK:

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

Doom Patrol | Season 2 Official Trailer :

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

THE BUNKER BOY – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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

A white homo devil reflects on years of so-called free speech

Not the only time that the hateful Uncle Sam sign denigrated gay people...

Not the only time that the hateful Uncle Sam sign denigrated gay people…

Let’s talk about the hateful Uncle Sam sign near Interstate 5 in Washington state, in a community called Napavine (which is just south of the larger town of Chehalis). The sign went up near the interstate a few years before my family moved to southwest Washington in the mid seventies. For just a bit over 10 years I lived about 40 miles from this sign. Additionally, for just short of 35 years, I have had to drive past this racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic billboard whenever I travel across the state.

There are NO billboards in Russia!

From The Daily Chronicle of Lewis County.

It began when the Washington state legislature amended the existing Highway Advertising Control Act in the late 1960s, which placed several restrictions on what sorts of signs/billboard/et cetera could be placed within the line of sight of people traveling on roads funded at least in part by state tax payer money. That prompted Alfred Hamilton, the owner of a turkey farm, to put up his first political billboard. The billboard proclaimed that there are no billboards in Russia. When Hamilton was interviewed about his billboard, he ranted about both state and federal law limiting billboards and how unAmerican he thought the laws were. For various reasons, it wasn’t until 1971 that the state Attorney General’s office started enforcing the amended act, notifying owners of billboards that their signs were in violation of law, and outlining options for resolving it.

You’ll notice on that archive image the phrase “A R Hamilton 7 Turkeys.” At any given time, Hamilton owned a lot more than 7 turkeys, of course. The number 7 was something he used in the branding for his business for years. I don’t know if anyone knows what it’s supposed to mean.

Right…

Anyway, he began posting various anti-communist slogans on the billboard, adding the creepy Uncle Sam, while he and the attorney general’s office fought it out in court. He reached a settlement with the state, agreeing to take down the sign, with the state compensating him for the cost of deconstruction. And then, shortly afterward, he put the billboard back up, on a different part of his property. The state law allowed signs of a certain size on the premises of a business so long as the sign advertised the business. He’s tried to qualify for that exemption before, but the court had ruled that while he owned the plot of land where he had initially put the sign up, it wasn’t a spot the public could drive to and make a purchase.

You see the level of discourse, here…

So he moved the sign closer to the building where he had the office. The state came back, arguing that the sign wasn’t advertising his business, in part because he didn’t always mention the farm. So he added the name of the business in white letters on the bottom frame of the sign. And for a few years the top to the sign mentioned which road to take of the exit to get to the business office. Eventually the court decided that while the political slogans were much larger and so prominent that many people driving by would never notice the advertising part of the sign, that it did technically qualify for the exemption.

Because the sign often had racist and homophobic messages in addition to the knee-jerk anti-government screeds, from time to time over the years people living in nearby communities would petition to have the sign removed. There were a streak of years where the guy was really obsessed with gay people, so it seemed that half the time the sign had various homophobic proclamations.

I was trying to find a particular image, because one time, when he found out that the Evergreen State College was hosted a queer film festival, he put up what he thought of as a sarcastic criticism of the festival? But apparently people driving from Portland, Oregon to come of the festival saw the sign and thought it was advertising for the festival.

Because of course he’s also a birther…

In the mid-nineties Hamilton sold his farm to a large agro-business and prepared to retire to Alaska. The sign was deconstructed again, and people living nearby thought it was finally going away. But, nope, the billboard went back up nearby. Hamilton’s son still owned some adjacent land where he was running some sort of RV business, and he put the sign up, there. Still quite visible from the freeway. Apparently the messages stopped getting changed out weekly for a number of years. According to one of the articles I found while I was looking for representative pictures, Hamilton was still composing the messages up in Alaska and sending them to his son until his death in 2004. Now the son is carrying on the hateful tradition on his own.

The state has gotten involved a couple of times since, because for quite a while the sign no longer had any advertising on it at all. But eventually the names of the businesses the son was running got added back.

There was at least one point where a group of protestors show up to picket the business and cover the sign with a tarp that had a pro-gay message: 2014: TWACtion: Environmental and Gender Rights Groups Occupy I-5 Billboard.

I’m writing about this today because there’s a new petition calling for the sign to come down: 73,000 signature petition calls for takedown of landmark Uncle Sam billboard.

And I have a few quibbles with some of the people quoted in the various stories about the sign. The first thing is, no slogan that I’ve ever seen on the sign has made me think anything other than, “What an ignorant a-hole!” I mean, I realize if you are as ill-informed as Hamilton was and his son seems to be, I guess some of the signs would make you do something that resembles thinking.

Which isn’t to say that I think ignorant, hateful people don’t have the right to hold those opinions and even express them.

I hate seeing that billboard every time I drive down to visit family (and on the trip back). It usually puts me in a bad mood.

But do I want it banned?

Free speech is a topic a lot of people misunderstand. The Supreme Court has long held that certain categories of speech enjoy less protection (obscenity, fraud, defamation, incitement), but not necessarily no protection. For instance, if the billboard referred to me by name and asserted that I was a pedophile, that would be defamation and actionable. Because it is false and harmful to my reputation. But when/if the billboard said that all queers are pedophiles? While it is false, it’s a bit harder to argue that the statement harms any particular person’s reputation. At least that’s what the courts have said so far. Similarly, the courts have held that public figures have to meet more stringent criteria to sue for defamation than private citizens do.

Hamilton’s original billboard was trying to argue that any regulation of billboards by government was censorship. The government argued that because taxpayers fund highways, that the areas immediately adjacent to highways is public property, and therefore the government has a right to regulate signage to a degree. When they amended the law (after some court cases), they argued further that some regulation of signage in view from designated highways was also permitted. The amended law carved out exemptions, one of which I mentioned above about on premises signage for business purposes.

So, as odious as I think the Hamiltons are, it’s their property, and if they want to advertise their business with racist, homophobic, and similar slogans, they’re within their rights.

I do think that they have intentionally pushed the limits of the law, particularly during the times when there is no mention of the business on the billboard at all. And I think they have done so more out of spite than any noble desire to test constitutional limits. Because of that spiteful nature, I don’t think they will ever succumb to community pressure to quit posting their hate.

I also think that not only are most (if not all) of the things posted on the billboard reprehensible, bigoted, and ignorant—they are also false. Not all lies constitute legal fraud or defamation, but there is a difference between whether something is legal and whether it is moral.

One of my college professors, who was also my debate coach and a mentor, always looked forward to seeing what lunacy was on the sign whenever we were traveling to a tournament that required us to drive past it. And that’s what he called it, lunacy. It so happened that he had grown up in Chehalis, just up the road, and he said for him, the sign was a reminder of why he was glad he wasn’t raising his own kids in that area. “Ignorance is funny, as long as you keep it at arm’s length,” he once said.

Sometimes I wish I could laugh at the sign like he did. Because while I understand his sentiment, I think he’s wrong. As long as some people believe (and vote based on those beliefs) that sort of ignorance and hate, it’s impossible to keep it all at arm’s length.


For some more information, if you’re interested:

Take down this racist Uncle Sam billboard.

Slade Gorton and the Infamous Hamilton Uncle Sam Billboard.

Tuesday Tidbits 6/9/2020: Not quite a tinpot dictator, yet

(Click to embiggen)

There is just so much going on in the world that it really is hard to keep up. And some of the things are just mind boggling. A week ago the president was threatening to send troops in to attack protestors (as if over-militarized police weren’t bad enough), and declared that he would do so over the objections of governors or other local officials. Along with his other inflammatory remarks, it was clear he was trying to get his base to turn out with guns to go shoot at protestors (something that several Fox talking heads have started to call for, too). It seemed clear that he thought this was the opportunity he had been waiting for to finally toss out the last remaining illusion of the rule of law in this country and become the tinpot dictator he clearly wants to be.

And now he’s back to shushing reporters and other B.S. and not sounding quite so troop happy. So what happened? In case you missed it, the military realized what he was trying to do and they said, ‘no.’

The Officers’ Revolt – Military commanders are finally speaking out against Trump.

Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Milley reminds troops of oath to American people.

Milley’s memo to the troops was also his serving notice to the president–the military swears to protect the constitution and the people, and to only obey lawful orders. Even if he invokes the old Insurrection Act, it doesn’t give him the legal authority to attack American civilians.

I don’t think that means we’re out of the woods on this by a long shot. And I think what may have shaken Trump more is the fact that his own loyal voters have, for the most part, stayed home and far away from the protests.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t a bunch of them doing violent, stupid things: Wash State Hillbilly F*cks Terrorize Multiracial Family Who Must Be ‘Antifa’.

This is the same story, but with less swearing and snark, in case the Wonkette’s reporting style isn’t to your taste: Spokane family harrassed by Forks-area residents, accused of being “Antifa”.

Believe it or not, some Republicans think that some sorts of racism are too much — or at least are bad for public relations: Racist video prompts Republican outcry in Greene County.

We all know Trump is a liar and a hypocrit. We all know every one of his press secretaries have been liars and hypocrits, still in case you needed more proof: As They Scream Voter Fraud, Trump And His Press Secretary May Have Voted Illegally.

Meanwhile police continue to cause more violence: Police open fire on queer bar giving first aid and washing pepper spray out of Black Lives Matter protesters’ eyes.

Videos Show Cops Slashing Car Tires at Protests in Minneapolis.

The military is banned from using tear gas on the battlefield, but police can use it on crowds at home. Here’s why.

This one is both said and scary. A guy shows up at the emergency room covered in blood, missing one hand, missing fingers off the other hand. While being treated, he tells the doctors a very implausible story about his lawnmower flipping over when he was mowing the lawn. Doctors are finding shrapnel in his body. So they notify the police that they have a patient that think is lying about how he was injured, and the injuries are consistent with an explosive. His records indicate a previous run in with the law having to do with explosives. Cops have to notify feds because there may be explosives involved. Authorities go to his home, where they note the grass is very tall and there is no sign of a lawnmower… Incel Blows Hand Off With Bomb Planned For “Hot Cheerleaders” – Cole Carini told FBI agents he had a lawnmower accident, but when agents searched his home they found blood and chunks of human flesh splattered on a bedroom wall.

HBO has made the entirety of this week’s episode of John Oliver’s show available for free on YouTube, and it really is worth the watch. Set some time aside and check it out:

Police: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

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

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