Tag Archive | right wing

Devils in very poor disguises

Pastor Manning's church sign in the news again: “Tribulation Trump is one nasty cracker possibly having sex with Ivanka.”

Pastor Manning’s church sign in the news again: “Tribulation Trump is one nasty cracker possibly having sex with Ivanka.”

It’s been a while since I’ve written about James David Manning, the “pastor” of the infamous Harlem hate church with the notorious hateful church sign. The church is currently in default of taxes, water, and sewage bills far in excess of a million dollars and fighting a losing battle over those fees and a bunch of zoning violations to have its building seized. Manning made the news briefly last year when he endorsed Trump for president, and his church sign claimed that Jesus would endorse Donald, as well. A while later, he withdrew the endorsement, because Donald indicated that the murderer who perpetrated the mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse, was a bad person. Can’t condemn the murders of queer people and still be a christian, now, can one?

“Jesus would endorse Donald Trump,” Manning's sign proclaimed last sprint. “Vote Trump make Harlem beautiful again.”

“Jesus would endorse Donald Trump,” Manning’s sign proclaimed last spring. “Vote Trump make Harlem beautiful again.”

Then, he seemed to flip back to endorsing Donald when he took some of the candidate’s statements to indicate it would be legal for christians to shoot Mexicans, muslims, and liberals.

It boggles my mind that someone can claim to be a follower of Jesus while spewing such hate. I mean, seriously, being overjoyed at murder? Looking forward to committing murder with impunity yourself?

What boggles even more is that people who claim to believe in the man who said “love thy neighbor as you love thyself” will follow these hatemongers and proclaim them great faith leaders.

We have people like Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio saying things like ‘The Real Brownshirts Are In The Homosexual Movement’. That’s pretty rich coming from a guy who was removed from one of this jobs at the American Family Association because his anti-semitic and anti-muslim comments raised a bit of an uproar too close to a Republican fundraising event in 2015.

Then there’s Scott Lively Scott Lively: Trump Must Ban Gays From Intelligence Agencies Because They’re Conspiring Against Him. Lively is currently involved in a lawsuit for crimes against humanity (I kid you not), because he gave encouragement and material assistance to get Uganda to pass kill-the-gay laws. And that’s some of the least insane evil stuff he’s been involved in. But he’s the president of Abiding Truth Ministries, so he is, of course, hailed as a Christian leader.

“The bible condemns Trump’s acceptance of sodomy and I withdraw my support. Sodomy is more dangerous than jihadis.”

“The bible condemns Trump’s acceptance of sodomy and I withdraw my support. Sodomy is more dangerous than jihadis.”

I’m not sure what has prompted Manning to turn on Trump again this week. There’s probably a new sermon up on his youtube channel explaining it, but I can’t deal with listening to any more of his hate and craziness. I have to admit that I kind of like the nickname “Tribulation Trump” for Donald. But I’m sure that Manning will flip-flop back to loving Donald again, he just needs to do something hateful enough that Manning recognizes him as a fellow devil, again.

There are even more poorly disguised devils in the news, of course. Yesterday a lot of people, particularly right-leaning news and blogging folks, were being shocked, shocked to learn that Milo Yiannopoulos has argued in favor of adults having sexual relationship with underage teen-agers. He has specifically insisted that this is not only good, but tried to claim that it is normal in the homosexual community. All of which is BS, but really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. It’s not as if he hasn’t said this sort of thing many times before. Nor is it at all inconsistent with his other attitudes.

So let’s unpack that a little. In the past, Milo has espoused a lot of undeniably racist opinions. He has orchestrated harassment campaigns against women, particularly women of color. He has encouraged violence against trans people. He has excused actual calls for genocide from some of his neo-nazi friends. He has advocated so-called “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” He has previously made sexual references to teen age boys. But it is only when he has specifically advocated for adult men having sexual relationships with 13-year-old boys that the Republican party, the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference, his fellow writers & editors at Breitbart, Bill Maher, and Simon & Schuster are objecting? In other words, all of those people and institutions are okay with racism, misogyny, transphobia, hate crimes, and genocide.

Let me repeat that: the Republican party, conservatives who organize CPAC, Breitbart writers & editors, Bill Maher, and the publishing house of Simon & Schuster don’t just turn a blind eye, they happily endorsed racism, misogyny, transphobia, hate crimes, and genocide. When people show you who they are you should believe them.

Also, it seems a lot of people are easily fooled by someone who says outrageous things when those outrageous things are attacks on people they dislike.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

“Neo-Nazi: a member of an extreme right-wing political group that has ideas similar to those of Adolf Hitler's Nazi parting, including hatred of jews and people of non-white races...”

“Neo-Nazi: a member of an extreme right-wing political group that has ideas similar to those of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, including hatred of jews and people of non-white races…”

So I’ve seen some admonishments going around along the lines of, “stop calling everyone who disagrees with you a Nazi!” and other variants of the good ol’ Godwin’s Law1. Never mind that Godwin himself said, “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.” I’ve specifically run into this admonishment lately in discussions about various people who have been advocating various racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and homophobic opinions along with laws and policies intended to harm people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

In other words, there are a lot of public figures and pseudo-celebrities and wannabe pundits out there who are advocating neo-Nazi opinions and neo-Nazi policies, but we aren’t allowed to call them Nazi. Because that’s rude. Or it’s hyperbole. Or something.

Never mind that these proponents of opinions and policies that exactly (sometimes word-for-word) repeat actual neo-Nazi publications and demands Have previously called any woman who objected to their sexist pronouncements “feminazis.” Or that any of us who called out their racist or misogynist or homophobic statements were called “PC-nazis.” And then if we objected to that, they would make arguments about why the word “nazi” isn’t actually an insult. When it’s used back at them, suddenly we’re the ones who have crossed a line.

Some of these guys have demanded apologies, and even gotten retractions from some publications, insisting that just because they have said things like “In response to concerns from white voters that they’re going to go extinct, the response of the Establishment—the conservative Establishment—has been to openly welcome that extinction” or “Behind every racist joke is a scientific fact” or “some degree of separation between races is necessary for a culture to be preserved” that it is ridiculous to think that means they’re white nationalists or neo-nazis. We’re the bad guys for even suggesting such a thing! They aren’t bad guys for advocating forced deportment or relocation or so-called “peaceful ethnic cleansing3

Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, has called for at least the separation of people by race, ethnicity, and religion. He has also spouted various racist, misogynist, and transphobic beliefs. He has sent hordes of his internet followers to harass women with rape threats and racist attacks. He has said all sorts of awful and false things about trans people and has encouraged his fans to attack and harass them. And not just in general, he has handed out private address and contact information of specific trans people and suggested that someone should teach them some manners.

Yiannopoulos then defends himself by insisting that he’s simply stating an opinion. And besides, he’s gay, so how could he possibly be a bigot? Not only is he gay, but he’s white gay man who only has sex with black men, so he can’t possibly be racist (never might that racial fetishization is deeply entwined with racial hatred). And by the way, he doesn’t endorse all the white nationalist policies of a bunch of his friends (even though he frequently makes some of the same arguments they do), he just thinks they’re interesting people. So it’s wrong to call him a white nationalist or a neo-nazi of a nazi sympathizer.

Bull.

He’s an editor of a news site which describes itself as the platform of the alt-right. The alt-right is a term coined by white supremacist Richard Spencer in order to make white supremacy seem more like just another political option4. He argues racial opinions of white nationalist are reasonable–not just that they have the right to hold the racist opinions, but that those statements are fact rather than opinion. He attacks people on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or gender identity. He defends not just the right of the neo-Nazis and white nationalist to hold their opinions, but he actively campaigns to write those opinions into law. One day those same white nationalists who currently enjoy having his support may well turn on him, just as the historical Nazis eventually rounded up their own gay members and executed or imprisoned them. But right now he’s a white nationalist and a nazi-apologist. That’s a fact.

Then there are the people who angrily argue that they aren’t defending neo-nazis or white supremacists just because they are telling people like me to shut up about them. Seriously. “You must let them advocate genocide without calling them on it” isn’t defending them? Of course, the most recent person to send me that message personally also slipped in two bigoted dog whistles5 before I blocked him

Then, of course, there are the free speech arguments. Okay, I’m an advocate for free speech. You have the right to your opinion, and you have the right to express it. But I, as a private citizen, am under no obligation to give you a platform. I am under no obligation to sit quietly and listen. I am certainly under no obligation to sit quietly and listen while you advocate policies that will cost me my job, my home, and my health care. I’m allowed to argue. I’m allowed to boycott. I’m allowed to call you a neo-nazi. I’m allowed to shun and shame people who enable your advocacy of hate.

“Some people's idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but it anyone says anything back that is an outrage.” — Sir Winston Churchill

“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but it anyone says anything back that is an outrage.” — Sir Winston Churchill

Disagreement is not censorship. Boycotting is not censorship. Shunning is not censorship. Calling you a bigot or similar is not censorship. Calling you an idiot is not censorship. Staging a protest when you come to my community to preach your hate is not censorship. Boycotting businesses that give you a platform to preach your hate is not censorship. Repeating word-for-word things you say (particularly if you go on TV or stand up on a stage to address supporters) is not censorship nor misrepresenting you. Pointing out which of your statements are factually wrong is not censorship. Even going so far as to call you a liar (particularly when it has been documented numerous times that you repeat false information again and again) is not censorship.

Free speech means you can express your opinions if you like. Free speech does not mean that those opinions have to be taken seriously, or treated reverently, or accepted without argument.

To circle back to the original point, if you:

  • repeat neo-nazi and white supremacist slogans,
  • advocate the same programs of racial, ethnic, religious, misogynist, and/or homophobic discrimination and oppression as neo-nazis and white supremacists,
  • attack anyone who disagrees with neo-nazi and white supremacist proposals or hate speech,
  • thank the avowed neo-nazis and white surpremacists when they repeat your words and deeds and hold you up as an example on their white supremacist video blogs, news sites, and/or conferences,
  • are publicly and unapologetically friends with neo-nazis and white supremacists after they have repeatedly (often in your presence) called for the extermination of people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity,

then you are a neo-nazi. And no one should apologize for calling you a bigot, a nazi, a white nationalist, a white supremacist, or a nazi sympathizer. Because you are all of those things. And that is a fact.


Footnotes:

1. Godwin’s Law was first articulated by author and attorney Mike Godwin: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, if an argument goes on long enough, someone will eventually evoke the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, et cetera. While it is phrased as if it were a law of mathematics, it’s really just an adage based on observation2. As Godwin himself has stated, it was intended as a tool to remind people not to resort to unnecessary hyperbole. He also wanted people to not trivialize the Holocaust. He has pointed out on several occassion that sometimes such comparisons are quite apt.

2. Godwin’s Law gets abused a lot. People have interpreted it to mean that if someone ever makes a comparison to Hitler, naziism, et cetera, that this immediately invalidates all of their arguments. Part of this comes from rules that were established on some Usenet groups in the 1990s by which if a thread reached the Hitler comparison, the thread would be ended. Note that this was a convention that some people chose to adopt. Godwin’s Law is not an actual law nor does it articulate anything that even approaches a logical fallacy.

3. This oxymoronic term is deployed frequently and unironically by actual neo-Nazis such as Richard Spencer, the president of a literal white supremacist “think tank” among other things. He has also called for non-peaceful ethnic cleansing, for example: “humanity doesn’t need the Black man, and having concluded that, we must decide how efficiently to dispose of them.”

4. There some subjects upon which people can legitimately disagree. Details of tax policy, for instance. But when one side is literally calling for the mass murder of the other side (or mass incarceration, or denial of fundamental human rights), then we are no longer talking about a disagreement.

5. Dog-whistle: coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. For instance, in American politics the phrase “states’ rights” seems to be a mere reference to the Constitutions delineation of some powers and rights belonging the states (and other to the people or to the federal government), but signaled the politician’s commitment to segregation and institutionalized racism. “Real Americans” is frequently used to refer to conservative white Christians. Similarly, calls to “cut entitlements” are understood by the target audience to mean that “undeserving minorities” will be kicked off public assistance (when it fact it means that everyone will lose their benefits in order to funnel more tax money to the uber-rich and corporations).6

6. The dog-whistles in question in this particular exchange made it clear the guy arguing with me was both anti-semitic and homophobic. I thanked him for identifying himself just before blocking him.

Why is it always my job to justify my existence?

“...even if [the trump voter] isn't a racist, ableist, xenophobic, misogynist sexual predator, he was fine voting for one.... [my life] would be better off without someone who places trumps showmanship over common human decency...” (click to embiggen)

“…even if [the trump voter] isn’t a racist, ableist, xenophobic, misogynist sexual predator, he was fine voting for one…. [my life] would be better off without someone who places trump’s showmanship over common human decency…” (click to embiggen)

Someone’s at it again. Telling us that the people who gladly voted for the man who swore to take away health care from millions, swore to give religious people the right to discriminate against queers, and swore to kick millions of brown people out of the country—could be persuaded not to vote that way again if only we would talk to them and listen to their side of things.

It seems so reasonable. Simple. Just talk. Listen to their side. We always argue for tolerance, right? Listen to their side of things. Maybe we’ll learn something. And once they see we’re willing to listen, they can be persuaded to see things from our perspective.

Bull.

Seriously, I’m a queer man in my late 50s. I grew up in tiny rural communities attending Southern Baptist Churches. You think I haven’t heard at least a billion times the perspective of the people who think religious freedom means a right to discriminate against me? You think I haven’t heard millions of times why queers don’t deserve civil rights protections? You think I haven’t heard millions of times how they perceive black people, brown people, people with accents, people who don’t attend the same churches as they do?

I have had no choice but to listen for decades!

You cannot talk someone who doesn’t think you’re their equal into accepting your right to autonomy. They may claim that they respect you. They may call you their friend. They may think of you as an exception to the truth they hold deep in their hearts about the inherent inequalities of different types of people. But the only thing that’s going to do is that you will be the person they trot out as proof that they aren’t prejudiced when someone else calls them on it. I know because it’s happened many times to me, personally.

Sure, when I’ve argued that queer people need to live their lives out and proud (if they can safely do so), I have cited the studies that show that actually knowing queer people makes other people more likely to support our rights. But it makes them more likely. It isn’t a magic formula that is guaranteed to change any specific person’s mind.

My evangelical upbringing is especially relevant to this particular argument. Despite making fun of a disabled person, talking about pussy-grabbing, and openly calling for violence against people who disagree, Donald got 80% of the evangelical vote. That’s better than George W. Bush every managed!

And those folks are absolutely convinced that they don’t hate anyone. They will angrily tell you just how much they love you in the same breath that they say that if your rights are protected, that will offend god so much that he will destroy America. They don’t see the contradiction between those statements. When it comes to things like women’s rights and racial issues, they just as emphatically insist that they aren’t bigots. They just know, because they think it’s in the Bible, that women are meant to be subservient to men, and that brown people are meant to be subservient to white people. If they aren’t quite willing to say that last part out loud, what they will fall back on is the separate but equal dodge on race, because god intended the races to be separate, they say.

It’s a weird theological argument: god wouldn’t have made you a woman, or a African-American, or Latino, or whatever, if you weren’t meant to fulfill certain roles in life. Maybe he sees inherent moral weaknesses in your soul. It isn’t at all logical, and most of them can’t articulate it beyond the notion that they believe it’s in the Bible. But that’s what you’re up against: god said it, god did it, god intends it. And no amount of talking or listening or being friends with people whose life experience belies that is going to shake their resolve. They may feel doubts. They may even confess to you that they realize you are a good person despite being in a category they have been taught is inherently not. But they will then shrug, say it’s god’s doing, and they’ll cheerfully vote for any candidate who affirms their ideas.

Even if that candidate also says a lot of things that completely contradict the teachings of their church. Because once they decide that a candidate is god’s choice, they can hand-wave everything away with the old “he works in mysterious ways.”

It’s an exhausting battle.

So, yes, be kind and civil. If you have the time and energy to attempt to be friends with someone, you can. But don’t kid yourself that doing so is more effective than calling your congressperson, or going to a protest, or joining a boycott, or going to town hall meetings, or donating to organizations that protect our rights. And please, don’t let the people in your life who think it’s okay to take away your rights think that you endorse those ideas.

Because you’re just empowering them to hurt others.

Punching villains

The cover of the very first appearance in any comic of Captain America shows him punching out Adolf Hitler, in case there was any doubt whose side he was on.

The cover of the very first appearance in any comic of Captain America (March 1941) shows him punching out Adolf Hitler, in case there was any doubt whose side he was on. (click to embiggen)

So white supremacist Richard B. Spencer (he is literally the guy who invented the term “alt-right” as an attempt to re-brand the neo-nazi and white supremacist movements) was out in public spouting his usual hatred, specifically saying that instead of talking about reparations for slavery or anti-discrimination laws, humans ought to be deciding how best to “dispose of” black people. His language wasn’t metaphorical nor was he using the usual rightwing code words for their racist beliefs. He was literally calling for genocide.

And someone punched him right in the mouth: Right-wing extremist Richard Spencer got punched, but it was memes that bruised his ego.

People have been up in arms about how punching a person even for saying awful things isn’t just stooping to their level, it’s somehow worse. And one of these nazi-apologists is Nick Spencer, a man currently in charge of writing the Captain America comic book (and as far as we know, no relation to Richard). I should point out that he’s the same hack writer who thought last year having a cliffhanger where Captain America appeared to have been a secret Hydra/Nazi double agent all along was a clever plot twist. Despite many people trying to explain why it was actually lazy, and something that only a person in a place of privilege would think was a shock.

Anyway, fortunately, another comic writer, Warren Ellis, has weighed in with a great reply to Nick’s apologetics.

I understand there’s been some confusion online as to whether it’s ever right to punch a Nazi in the face. There is a compelling argument that all speech is equal and we should trust to the discourse to reveal these ideas for what they are and confidently expect them to be denounced and crushed out by the mechanisms of democracy and freedom.

All I can tell you is, from my perspective as an old English socialist and cultural liberal who is probably way to the woolly left from most of you and actually has a medal for services to free speech — yes, it is always correct to punch Nazis. They lost the right to not be punched in the face when they started spouting genocidal ideologies that in living memory killed millions upon millions of people. And anyone who stands up and respectfully applauds their perfect right to say these things should probably also be punched, because they are clearly surplus to human requirements. Nazis do not need a hug. Nazis do not need to be indulged. Their world doesn’t get better until you’ve been removed from it. Your false equivalences mean nothing. Their agenda is always, always, extermination. Nazis need a punch in the face.
—Warren Ellis

There is a serious topic here, even though I’ve thus far focused on writers of comic books (but I’m a big nerd, so of course this is where I start). When is violence justified?

Most people are okay with situations of clear self-defense, but blanch at the thought of punching someone for words. But under U.S. law, at least since the 1942 Supreme Court decision of Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, we have the principle of fighting words: “words that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” It’s related to the crime of incitement. Over the years the court has narrowed the grounds under which the fighting words doctrine can be invoked, but the notion remains that some declarations are the equivalent of throwing the first punch. And that principal isn’t limited to the law.

Miss Manners, who usually justifies the idea of rules of etiquette and manners as necessary to prevent people from strangling each other over lunch, talks about statements that go beyond the pale. The person making such declarations, she argues, has “ceded their right to participate in polite society.” Which means others are under no obligation to be nice to the person. Depending on the level of the breach, she advocates expressing your belief that such conversation isn’t fit for polite conversation and walking away or asking the person to leave and so forth. She also points out that while many people believe that manners dictate that one never confront other people, the truth is that having good manners sometimes means standing up to someone, particularly if they are abusing (verbally or otherwise) other people. She has also pointed out that swallowing an insult is tantamount to admitting it’s true.

And it’s hard to classify the statement that everyone of a certain skin color deserve to be literally exterminated as less than an insult.

The very first comic book depicting Captain America shows him punching Hitler. Punching Nazis who are waging war on the world and orchestrating the genocide of entire ethnic groups ought to be a no-brainer. It particularly should be a no-brainer to someone writing Captain America comic books! And when modern day neo-Nazis advocate genocide, a punch to the jaw doesn’t seem out of line. Having the person who writes Captain America defend an actual neo-Nazi seems particularly insulting. And as the grandson of two men who fought in World War II—both of whom at different times told me that they didn’t fight so that the KKK and their ilk could pretend they are American patriots—it feels like an insult. Standing up for Nazis isn’t just an insult to my grandfathers, it is an insult to all the brave men and women who in fought for the allies in World War II.

Danuta Danielsson, a woman of Polish and Jewish descent, caught on camera in 1985 by photographer Hans Runesson, hitting a marching neo-Nazi in the the head with her handbag on the streets of Växjö, Sweden.

Danuta Danielsson, a woman of Polish and Jewish descent, caught on camera in 1985 by photographer Hans Runesson, hitting a marching neo-Nazi in the the head with her handbag on the streets of Växjö, Sweden. (Click to embiggen)

We shouldn’t be defending Nazis, whether they call themselves the Alt-Right, Alternative Right, America Firsters, South Park Republicans, New Right, or more honestly White Nationalists, et al. The essence of their ideology is that entire groups of people must be, to use Richard Spencer’s own words, “disposed of” simple because of the color of their skin, or their religion, or their national origin, or their sexual orientation. I disagree with those who argue that Nazis themselves are less than human—and not simply because that’s sinking to their level, though it is—because when we do that, we forget an important thing: that humans are capable of terrible things. Calling for genocide is a terrible thing. People who do that need to face consequences in society. They need to be shunned, yes. They need to be shamed, absolutely.

And sometimes they need to be punched in the face.

Highly illogical canines and the 2016 Hugo awards

“Highly Illogical — Vulcan for Dumbass.

“Highly Illogical — Vulcan for Dumbass.

I wrote a lot less about the Hugos this year than last. I participated in the nominating process. I was greatly disappointed that having so many new nominators didn’t prevent the Rabid Puppies from bloc-filling several categories again. And I read (or tried to read in some cases) everything that was nominated which I hadn’t already read in time to fill out my ballot. Saturday night, I was very happy to see that the horrible things the Puppy slate-voters forced onto the ballot didn’t win. I was also happy that there were fewer categories that we had to No Award this year.

Not writing about it so much this year was intentional. One benefit of that was that I had fewer vitriolic comments come in on this blog that I had to delete rather than approve. I was a lot less anxious about what the results of the voting would be than I was last year. I’m not sure how much of that was because last year the Hugo voters overwhelmingly rejected the Puppy slate, rather than a result of actively avoiding writing and thinking about them as much.

I am quite certain that at least part of the reason I was less emotionally distraught going in was that I didn’t force myself to read all the way to the end of every entry in short story, novella, and novelette this year. I gave each entry three pages to hook me, and if they didn’t hook me by then, I stopped and put them beneath No Award on my ballot. Reading some of that awful stuff—stories that would have been rejected for poor composition, lack of plot, or gapping logic holes by most of the fanzines I’ve ever been associated with—and getting outraged at the knowledge that such poorly crafted material had displaced more deserving works was a big part of why I was so upset last year.

The works that won this year are great and quite deserving. A couple of them were even things that I nominated, so that was fun.

There was some drama at WorldCon, at least some of it related to the proponents of the Puppy cause. But I also hear that a lot more very cool stuff happened.

I don’t think I want to get into that. And a bunch of what I would like to say has already been said by other people: Abigail Nussbaum observes in Sunday, August 21, 2016 The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Winners,

“The one thing I keep learning, again and again, as I study this award is that, much as it frustrates me, much as it throws up shortlists that disappoint me, much as it often seems stuck in a middlebrow rut, the Hugo is always what it is. It doesn’t take thousands of new voters to keep the Hugo true to itself, because the people who vote for it every year will do that job themselves. With something like half the voters we had last year, we still managed to send the same message: that we have no patience for astroturf; that we have no time for writing that embarrasses the paper and ink used to print it; and that this is an award that can be gamed, but it can’t be stolen. This year’s Hugo voters had no trouble telling junk from serious nominees; they saw the difference between the nominees being used as shields by the puppies and the ones that truly represent their literary tastes and politics. And even more importantly, in the best novel and best novella categories in particular, Hugo voters recognized some of the finest and most exciting work published in this genre in years.”

One place where I disagree with Nussbaum is about the nature of the drop-off in voting numbers this year compared to last, after last year had such a dramatic surge of new voters. Last year’s number of voters was 5,950, which was a big leap from the 3,587 ballots cast in 2014. This year, the number dropped down to 3,130, which is in the ballpark of the 2014 number. However, as many people pointed out, 2014 had an usually high number of Hugo voters. In fact, from 1976 through 2010, the average number of ballots cast each year was about 1100.

So to argue that the voting numbers this year have dropped back to the level before is a bit shaky. Yes, last year after news broke of the Puppy assaults on the award, a couple thousand more fans than usual purchased WorldCon supporting memberships. Based on all the blogging and how they voted, those extra memberships were people coming to vote against slate voting, or at least the worst of the slates. But that the numbers didn’t leap that high this year doesn’t mean those extra fans all gave up. I know of six people who voted for the first time ever last year because of the Puppies, and who also voted this year. That isn’t a scientific sample by any means, but 3130 votes is a lot higher than the pre-Puppy typical number.

Also, last year wasn’t the first year that the Puppies ran their campaign, it was simply the first year that they managed to take over entire categories on the ballot with their bloc voting scheme.

She’s right that it is harder to get people to do something they’ve never done before consistently, but I don’t think that all of us who had never voted before last year are going away.

Then over at WeHuntedTheMammoth.com we have: Fake sci-fi boys cry salty tears over Puppies defeat at the Hugo Awards, which observes:

“[Theodore “Vox Day” Beale] is trying his best to spin the defeat as a victory (“we have the SF-SJWs exactly where we want them at this point in time”) but even the fake sci-fi boys on Reddit’s gamergate hangout KotakuInAction can see what happened. And they are indeed sad little puppies about it.”

The Reddit conversation in question links to this wonderful Guardian article: Hugo awards see off rightwing protests to celebrate diverse authors which observes:

“Another attempt by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups to hijack the science fiction award goes to the dogs, as authors and titles not in their campaign take top prizes.”

And past Hugo-nominee Saladin Ahmed had a couple of good observations on Twitter:

The Hugos went to some very deserving works. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (which won Best Novel) was one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years; it’s hard to describe, but it is a book about a world where apocalypse events happen with great regularity, but it is also funny and hopeful even while commenting on the nature of inequality. And “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (which won Best Short Story) was the a truly delightful take on Artificial Intelligence while being a comment on the human condition. I could keep going on, because oddly enough, my first choice in most of the categories of the ballot were also the winners. They were all really good. To read a good run-down of who won, you can check out this blog: The 2016 Hugo Awards or Fandom 2 : Puppies 0:

“To sum it up, in spite of canine interference, women won or co-won Hugos in nine of seventeen categories. All four fiction categories were won by women, three of them women of colour (plus a man of colour winning as translator). So inspite of the rabid puppies doing their worst, we still have one of the most diverse list of winners ever. And even though a couple of IMO puppy hostages finished under “No Award”, we also puppy hostages winning. Actual puppies, however, lost and lost badly.”

And I could repeat all the arguments I and others have made before of how the claims of the Sad and Rabid Puppies are highly illogical, but you’d have more fun reading the Guardian’s Book Blog where Damien Walter reads and reacts to some of the Puppies’ favorite authors, Hugo awards: reading the Sad Puppies’ pets:

“[T]he Sad Puppies don’t want any of their books to end up on bestseller lists or TV screens. It’s the same frustrating paradigm that British MP Michael Gove hit upon when he said that people were sick of experts, or what Donald Trump plays upon when he rails against “professional politicians”. We’re seeing the Dunning-Kruger effect played out on a mass scale, and the Sad Puppies are just a speck in that wider problem.”

Okay, the Puppies will be with us for years to come, just as we have never gotten rid of white supremacists nor men who want to take the right to vote away from women. But over time, the movements wither. As we’re seeing right now with the upsurgence of the Teabaggers and other Trump supporters, hate can rear its ugly head again. But in the long run, light dispels darkness and love beats hate. All this anger about people other than straight white dudes winning every single award is the dying gasp of a shrinking fraction of the population.

Vox Day and his ilk will keep trying to whip up trouble as long as he thinks it will help him sell books. But I think history is clear that he is going to be appealing to a smaller and smaller group of people. And as Mr. Spock once observed: “Without followers, evil cannot spread.”

Fortunately, there are people actively working to spread good. Alexandra Erin points out that the point of conventions or Hugos and any other awards is about connections and feelings of genuine admiration: WORLDCON: Comedy tomorrow, Hugos tonight. And once again George R.R. Martin hosted the Hugo Losers Party and handed out awards to people and publications that would have made the ballet without the slate voting: Alfie Awards.

Anti-trans bigot demonstrates that bullies are cowards… (duh!)

Click to embiggen. (I have found this image on dozens of articles and blog posts about trans issues, but never with an art credit. If you know who made this, please let me know so I can at least credit them!)

Click to embiggen. (I have found this image on dozens of articles and blog posts about trans issues, but never with an art credit. If you know who made this, please let me know so I can at least credit them!)

So, professional bigot Travis Weber (spokesperson for the Family Research Council) was on Chris Matthews’ show on MSNBC last week to speak in favor of the North Carolina law that makes it a crime for trans people to use a public bathroom that doesn’t match the gender on their birth certificates. The other guest was Jennifer Boylan, an English professor and writer who happens to be trans.

No matter how hard Matthews tried, he couldn’t get Weber to say which bathroom Boylan should use. He’s there to defend this law that insists Boylan shouldn’t use the women’s room, but Weber can’t bring himself to say it while she’s sitting right there. It’s almost funny.

I was going to say a lot more about this, but another blogger already hits all the points I want to make:

…[he] can’t bring himself to answer the question. Not with Boylan sitting there—not with Boylan empowered to respond to him directly, personally, publicly, and immediately. Watch as Weber’s bigoted “convictions” and “sincerely held religious beliefs” wilt in the presence of one of the people he’s trying to stir up bigotry against.

And:

Those ridiculous lies [they told about same-sex marriage] won ’em some battles — they carried the day before the Washington State Supreme Court — but they didn’t win ’em the war. Because their lies couldn’t survive us. They couldn’t survive us getting out there and speaking for ourselves, they couldn’t survive the scrutiny of decent and reasonable people, they couldn’t survive our lawyers, and they couldn’t survive satire and ridicule…. The [anti-trans] haters are winning some battles right now, and that sucks, and their hateful rhetoric makes an already dangerous world for trans people even more dangerous. But their “wins” are putting trans people in the spotlight. Trans people are speaking for themselves, disproving the lies, and joining in or leading the joyful mocking of the haters — just as the fight against same-sex marriage put same-sex couples (some half or wholly trans) in the spotlight. We spoke for ourselves, we mocked the haters, we gathered supporters, and we won the war.

I’m not arguing for complacency—we won the fight for marriage equality because we got out there and fucking fought it. We’re gonna have to fight this fight too. And we are fighting it and we are going to win. We are winning.

I didn’t identify the blogger before the quote because a lot of trans people of my acquaintance believe (incorrectly) that Dan Savage is anti-trans.

Regardless of what you think of Dan, this time he is definitely right on this one. The anti-trans bigots are using exactly the same arguments they have used against queer people before to justify denying us marriage rights, to justify sodomy laws, and so on. They claim we are monsters and predators and a threat to children. They raise false alarms and generate panic over things that have never actually happened. And yes, they are winning some battles. North Caroline is one place they have won.

But at the same time, they are losing the war. This bills are bringing more trans people forward. And as the panicked cis-hets see and meet real trans people, see the stories of real trans kids and their families, they are realizing the rhetoric is all lies. A CNN/ORC poll published today found that 57% of Americans disapprove of the North Carolina anti-trans bill. But even more important, only 48% of Republicans support such bills. Now, only 48% disapprove, and somehow 4% aren’t sure, but think about that: less than half of all Republicans approve this latest Republican hot-button issue. Wow.

Oh, and the same poll found that only 49% of North Carolina residents support the law.

It reminds me of one of the most telling stories that happened during the marriage equality fight. Before the Supreme Court ruling, one of the states was debating a marriage equality bill. And the relevant committees of both the upper and lower house of the state legislature scheduled public hearings that same day. So many people showed up wanting to speak and both hearings, that the committee chairs decided it would best to combine the hearings. So they moved both committees to a bigger room.

One Republican legislator who had been staunchly opposed to the bill switched his vote after that hearing. He said because they were in a different auditorium, he wasn’t in his usual spot up near the center of the front, but was off to the side, where it was easy to become distracted by the crowd and not pay attention to the citizens speaking. He said watching the gay and lesbian couples who were waiting their turn to speak interacting with each other and their children was a revelation to him. His whole life, he said, he had thought of gay people not as people, but as sexual acts. He didn’t believe they were actually in love. Watching them, he finally realized that queer people are just people. And that the couples were in love just the same as he and his wife. That they weren’t asking for special privileges. They just wanted the same legal protections for their families that straight people take for granted.

Just from watching them interact with their partners and children in the audience seats of an auditorium. That’s all it took.

We must fight. Make no mistake. And those of us who happen to be cis have to fight just as hard for the rights, dignity, and visibility of our trans brothers and sisters as we fought those previous battles. We have to remember that no one is free until everyone is.

But if we fight, we can win. We will win.

http://mediamatters.org/embed/210426

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here to watch the clip from Matthews’ show.)

Weekend Update 5/14/2016: Molester going to prison

“Dennis Hastert committed crimes against children and must be made responsible.”

“Dennis Hastert committed crimes against children and must be made responsible.”

Following up on a story that came to a conclusion the same week I was dealing with a death in the family: Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Dennis Hastert, was caught paying millions in hush money to try to keep the public from learning that he had molested at least five teen-agers while he was a high school wrestling coach. Because of a statute of limitations on child sexual assault, he couldn’t be charged with those crimes, only with the crime of trying to circumvent certain tax and financial laws, and for lying to the FBI about what he was doing. He has since been sentenced to 15 months in prison: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert ‘Deeply Ashamed’ as He Faces Accuser at Sentencing.

I’ve written before about his hypocritical conduct in Congress: being anti-gay, trying to shield another child molesting congressman from prosecution, promising the parents of a murdered gay teen he would fight to get a federal hate crimes bill passed and then doing everything he could to kill it (and succeeding), and so on. He’s since been showing up at his court appearances trying to look frailer and more pathetic—first with a cane, then a walker, now being wheeled to the court in a wheelchair. Maybe he is sick, but it is also a common ploy to try to play for sympathy. In any case, the judge certainly wasn’t swayed. Among his remarks during the sentencing, the judge noted, “Nothing is more disturbing than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘Speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”

In addition to spending 15 months in prison, with two years of supervision afterward and being forced to register as a sex offender, Hastert is being fined: Former Speaker Dennis Hastert Pays $250K Fine Linked to Sex Abuse.

While he was pleading for a more lenient sentence, Hastert contacted a lot of his former colleagues to write letters to the judge asking for leniency. I think it’s pretty horrible (but not that surprising) how many of his former Republican cohorts wrote such letters. On the other hand, he may have made things worse on himself with one of those requests. One of the people he asked was a former Illinois State Legislator… who happened to be the brother of one of the boys Hastert had molested. Not surprising, the legislator declined to write to ask for leniency, but the incident caused the brother who had been molested to go public about it. Including making a statement to the court about the abuse.

Fifteen months isn’t much punishment for the things that Hastert as done, but it’s a good start.

Weekend Update 2/12/2016 – Angry white men

"The very idea of the power and right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey established government." George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

“The very idea of the power and right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey established government.” George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

I had several links queued up related to the final holdouts of the Oregon Militia for yesterday’s Friday links, since the last militia members were finally arrested this week, but none of them conveyed anything useful except the fact that they were arrested. And I decided that wasn’t enough of interest to include with all the other links. Then Friday afternoon I saw this article: Dear Oregon Militia, Here’s why no one feels sorry for you and rejects your mission built on conservative Christian rage. Take it away:

The more the occupiers talked, the more obvious it became that they were not fierce warriors ready to die for a noble cause, but a bunch of fantasists who, bitter because white Christian conservatives don’t get the social deference they believe they deserve, have turned to conspiracy theories and other right wing argle-bargle in order to justify their sense that not being catered to is the same thing as being oppressed.

And:

…Slate’s Jacob Brogan live-tweeted the stream, and what struck him right away was “the combination of ideological incoherence and aggressive uncertainty.” They refused to recognize the authority of federal agents on federal land, as if wishing hard enough would make it go away. Their chatter suggested they “are intellectually and ideologically incommensurable even to one another”.

“All they seem to share are abstract reference points: guns, liberty, tyranny. No collective notion of how those things connect,” Brogan added. No big surprise, really. It seems at least a couple of them, possibly all, are deeply troubled people, drawn to this out of a sense of drama and not because they have a coherent or principled belief system to stand up for.

And before the final surrender, The patriarch of the Bundy family, scofflaw Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, was arrested at the Portland airport late Wednesday night. Hilariously, he was arrested because he posted his intention to fly to Oregon to join the hold out occupiers at the wildlife sanctuary on the internet, including his flight time, and then seemed to be shocked that federal agents were waiting to arrest him at the airport on his several outstanding federal warrants.


Speaking of angry white men whose ideology is less than coherent: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead at 79.

We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, no matter how hateful, odious, or bigoted they were. As one person pointed out on twitter, I’m sure when Emperor Palpatine died at the end of Return of the Jedi there was an army of white dudes at the celebrations like, “A man is dead. Show some respect.”

Maybe I should show some respect. But it’s hard to respect someone who argued so vehemently in favor of torture, and not just argued, but legally enabled it. A man who compared homosexuality to murder, polygamy, and cruelty to animals and used those arguments and his vote on the Supreme Court to thwart the rights of gay people for many years doesn’t deserve any respect. A man who said (less than three months ago) that granting civil rights to gay people made as little sense as doing so to child molesters does not deserve any respect.

The typical argument is that he has family and other loved ones who are hurt by his loss. But I have to say, from decades of reading his opinions and listening to his speeches, that if a person was friends with Scalia, I have severe doubts about that person’s morals or judgment. And his family members? Well, one son is an attorney who has been instrumental in impeding Wall Street reform, another son is a priest who promotes ex-gay therapy and leads several other anti-gay causes, his wife is a pro-life advocate who has been a “sidewalk counsellor” outside Planned Parenthood clinics, which means she screams at women going into the clinics, calling them baby-killers.

I prefer the advice of Charles Finch, “If you want to feel sad, go ahead and think about all the gay people who died alone because their spouses didn’t have visitation rights.”

Weekend Update 2/6/2016 – Can love conquer hate?

An exampled of Atlah World Ministries church sign messages, "Many of these homos moving to Harlem are looking for black meat"

Can’t you just feel the Christian love oozing from the sign?

I’ve been talking about it and linking to the stories about it all week. The infamous Harlem church with its even more infamous hate-spewing church sign has been ordered into a foreclosure auction due to over a million dollars in unpaid utility bills, plus ten of thousands in unpaid building permit-related fines, and hundreds of thousands in tax-related liens. And the Ali Forney Center, a charity that provides support, shelter, and nourishment to homeless youth and a safe place for LGBTQ youth, is trying to raise the money to make a bid on the building and turn it into a shelter and a retail operation to raise funds and provide job training to homeless queer kids: So close: Ali Forney Center has already raised $186,073 towards buying antigay ‘Harlem hate church’ I just checked this morning, and they’re over $190,000!

I really like this story about it: GAY GROUPS SEEK TO BUY NYC CHURCH KNOWN FOR HATEFUL MESSAGES because of the quotes from the neighbors of the church, including the lady who lives across the street who started fundraising for the Ali Forney’s bid as soon as she heard about it.

Donate to the #HarlemNoHate campaign today!


Meanwhile, just a few days after Donald Trump had vowed yet again to overturn the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling if elected, he’s suddenly claiming that he would be a champion of gay rights. Seriously. Not surprising, since New Hampshire republicans actually boo-ed Republican candidates at debates as far back as 2008 when they started making anti-gay statements. New Hampshire only had civil unions back then, but those had passed with overwhelming Republican and Democratic voter support. New Hampshire Republican voters have been far less anti-gay than Republicans elsewhere for a long time.

But Trump is not a gay ally. If you need a reminder, here’s a nice round up of The top ten worst comments Donald Trump has made about LGBTQ people.

I don’t know if he thinks the pro gay voters in New Hampshire are stupid enough to fall for it, not to mention how his current supporters will react to this sudden flip-flop. Maybe he just assumes that the majority of his angry hateful supporters won’t care? I don’t know.

I had an old friend from High School scold me this week for posting a link to a story critical of Trump. Not that he’s not critical of Trump; he was angry about the characterization that Trump is a Republican front-runner, because he believes that real Republicans aren’t fooled by Trump’s hatred.

Um…?

Every single candidate that has been vying for the Republican nomination this cycle is supportive of all of the same things Trump is spouting off about. They just try to make it sound less blatantly hateful. Unless they’re talking about gays, of course, then they’re blatant: Rick Santorum attacks Scott Walker as not anti-gay enough, or Three Republican candidates speak at anti-gay pastor’s rally or Iowa conservatives target Cruz for not being anti-LGBT enough.

The bottom line, for me, is that it doesn’t matter which clown gets the Republican nomination: they’re all anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-poor… it will be a disaster if any of them when the White House.

Weekend Update 1/30/2016 – Making things beautiful edition

Support the #HarlemNoHate campaign

Support the #HarlemNoHate campaign

Not all of the good stuff makes it into Friday Links each week for various reasons. And sometimes more information about something I did include comes in afterward. Yesterday I included a link to a story about the hateful church of the hateful pastor David Manning and the fact that they haven’t paid utility bills in a long time. The GayWrites tumblr has a fantastic update:

Remember Atlah Worldwide Church in Harlem? The church that wrote “Jesus Would Stone Homos” and other anti-LGBT messages on its marquee?

They have racked up over a million dollars in unpaid bills, and now the building is up for public auction. The Ali Forney Center, which houses about 107 homeless LGBT youth in New York City, is ready and willing to make an offer, buy the space and convert it into an LGBT homeless youth shelter – if we can help them come up with the money.

The church owes more than one million dollars ($1,000,000) in various bills, mostly water and sewer bills. This is in addition to tens of thousands in fines the church has been assessed for various permit violations. While Pastor Manning personally has federal liens totaling $355,000 for non-payment of federal taxes on his personal income, plus $28,000 in back taxes to New York state, and about $30,000 in other collections. (Who would have ever predicted that someone who has spent time in prison in two different states for burglary, robbery, and larceny would, when he became a hate-spouting preacher, cheat on his taxes?)

The Ali Forney Center is a charity that provides shelter, support, education, and nourishment to homeless youth with an emphasis on providing safe spaces for queer homeless teens. You may remember that at least 40% of homeless teens are on the street because their families rejected them for being gay, lesbian, bi, or trans. The center happens to have one of its locations near the church, and the church has organized anti-gay rallies outside the center on more than one occasion.

They need to raise about $200,000 to be a serious contender in the foreclosure auction. They’ve raised about 20% of that since announcing this yesterday. If you can donate, please do!

Donate to the #HarlemNoHate campaign today!


In completely unrelated news: you’ve probably already read about a bunch of the Oregon Militia members being arrest this week: WTF Just Happened to the Oregon Militia, Explained. The federal charging indictment is very simple and conservative: they are simply charging them with conspiracy to interfere with a federal employee completing their duties, and the charge is full of public quotes from the militia members that make the case pretty open-and-shut.

Ursula Vernon did a very funny sum-up of the situation on Twitter, which someone has kindly storified so you can go read it in order. It is funny and worth the read: Here’s what I don’t understand about the Oregon militia, and because I’m me, I will use Star Wars as a metaphor…

The only quibble I have with her metaphor is this: the justification that the Oregon militia (and all the rest of the sovereign citizen crackpots) use for their actions is not the equivalent of referring to an ancient document from the Old Republic as if it were binding law on the Empire, it is more like referring to the some words that Jar-Jar Binks is rumored to have muttered in his sleep and claiming that those words are binding laws on the Empire.

I’m glad that this thing hasn’t turned into a massacre, and it’s sad that one of the idiots reached for his gun (it’s really clear in the video that’s what he did) while facing a bunch of feds who were trying to arrest him. Notice that no one else was shot. I hope once the grand jury is convened that they also charge this idiots for violating the native american archeological site and claiming on youtube they were going to sell the artifacts. That will get them some serious, and well-deserved prison time.

I hope the hold-outs give themselves up so that the refuge managers, the Audubon Society, local ranchers, and the Burns Paiute Tribe and other actual stakeholders in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to get back to work.

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