muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Everything washing out of Cleveland these last couple days has been so awful and depressing, and then Melania Trump went and gave us the gift of that plagiarised speech, which became a meme fountain the likes of which I don't know I've seen since they heyday of Rachel Dolezal (who makes a comeback in one). I was literally laughing out loud during the break in our 3-hour moves planning meeting sharing them with coworkers.

Then, of course, the sharpness of the cleverest ones started to become dulled with repetition and the ugliness of the sexist and nativist ones became harder to ignore. Finally [livejournal.com profile] walkthelight had to point up the pathos of her one big opportunity thus far in a campaign she clearly never wanted to be dragged into to present herself as something other than just a pair of boobs blowing up in her face and now I'm back to counting just how many damn weeks are left before November.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This election cycle is another gradual coming-to-terms with the fact that I'm not anywhere near as progressive as I'd like to think myself. Because if I were, I'd be on fire for Cranky Grandpa and his New New Deal. You can call it pragmatism--it's been clear since the beginning that the DNC is only interested in nominating the Den Mother of Wall Street; show me someone hoping for a repeat of 2008's insurgency and I'll show you someone with way more faith in Millennials' ability to find their way into a voting booth than I think is warranted--but I think it goes deeper than that. I think at this point I honestly prefer the moneyed centrist who I know won't try anything crazy to the untested luftmentsh who dares to dream big.

I really have to feel sorry for my Republican friends this time: so many options, so few choices. It looks like the GOP is drifting to Rubio by default, which must come as something of a relief after seeing first Trump's star rise and then Cruz'. I'm still expecting Angry Toupee's narcissism to lead him down the road to an independent run, in which case it's a guaranteed loss for their man and another four years of relentless obstructionism for the rest of us.

The one good thing to be said for the whole circus is that it's distracting us from the total shitshow on the state level. Rauner's turning out to be just the big government small government conservative we feared with the stubbornness to match Madigan in dick-measuring while Little Rome on the Prairie continues to burn. And the less said about our lame duck scumbag of a mayor, the less of a desire I have to drink until I wake up in the White City.
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Nov. 16th, 2015 04:32 pm

Le naturel

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
My emotional reactions to the attacks in Paris and everything they've stirred up are complex and messy and probably not something I should be trying to sort through in public. But, fuck it, this is LiveJournal, so who's reading this anyway? Somehow I managed not to hear about what happened until I was seated at the dinner table. I hadn't checked social media before leaving work and had to deal with condo nonsense the moment I arrived home, so it was only once that had settled down and I was sipping soup with the Old Man that he brought the conversation around to the events of the day.

My first reaction was to grab my iPhone and scan the news reports. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. It was a stronger sensation than reading the news from Beirut a day earlier. Then my heart sank as I thought, "This is not what they need." Beirut for me is like an elegant and accomplished person who suffered a terrible tragedy years ago and has been struggling ever since to get back on their feet again. Paris, on the other hand, is someone so powerful and celebrated that they should be well insulated from those problems.

But why should they get off easier than Madrid or New York City? No real reason at all. And it's not like the city is any stranger to political massacres either. The last one of this magnitude wasn't carried out by non-state actors but by the French state. None of this was in the forefront of my mind as the attacks were still in progress; they came bubbling up the next day as I began to sift through the news updates and the shitpile of responses and responses to responses.

Far from consoling me, the "flood of solidarity" only depressed me further. I don't know if I'd noticed before just how problematic expressions of support can be. Their value consists of their authenticity, but the mediation of a prefab platform very easily gives them the appearance of something else. I felt less like I was witnessing an outpouring of genuine emotion and more just the workings of habitus. Explanations of why a particular person felt strongly connected to Paris or the French in general read like a form of social positioning (since naturally these connexions are far more characteristic of some socioeconomic tiers and segments of society than others).

It got worse when Facebook released an app similar to the one propagated around the time of the same-sex marriage decision which allowed one to overlay profile pics with the Tricolore. With a "gesture of support" only two clicks away, my Wall began to fill up with doctored selfies. Could you find a better metaphor for making a distant tragedy all about yourself? A couple days later and I still see a trickle of Friends playing catchup. Which makes me wonder: How will they know when it's time to stop draping themselves in the flag? Which cool kids do they look to for their cue on that?

Naturally it took very little time before people began pointing out the disparity in reactions between Paris and Beirut, or Ankara a month earlier, or any other place east of Alsace that had been bombed or shot-up. This quickly became it's own kind of tedious posturing and attention-policing, whatever valid observations lay behind it. The covertly-politicised calls not to politicise the tragedy blended in with the overt politicisations and I just had to get away from it all.

What is the "proper" response in this situation? I don't know. I don't know that there is one, to be honest. People respond how they're going to respond, in a way you can largely predict based on their class background and their ideological poles. Is that a surprise? Is that cause for handwringing and headshaking? Isn't that just as determined a response as any other?
Aug. 4th, 2015 02:48 pm

Dork act

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I really didn't want to get into it with the anti-GMO advocates at the farmer's market. And I wouldn't have if they hadn't pressed me. But the guy seem genuinely surprised that I didn't want to sign a petition urging Durbin to oppose what he called "the DARK Act" (anti-GMO cant for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014). I told him that I didn't like siding with a corporation as nasty as Monsanto, but that I found the anti-GMO hysteria even worse.

His arguments were laughable. He first asked me, "If GMOs are safe, why would corporations opposed labeling them?" To which I pointed out that there were a lot of people who believed they weren't safe, which would have a negative effect on sales. The follow-up question really floored me: "If they weren't dangerous, why would people think they were?" And I was like, "Have you never been on the Internet? Why are there anti-vaxxers?"

One of the other activists heard this and said, "Oh well, they're crazy." "So they're crazy but the anti-GMO crowd aren't?" She told me that she didn't buy into the hysteria and for her it was "a consumer advocacy issue". I told her I thought there should be a more compelling reason for mandating companies label something than that a lot of people wanted them to. Then a third chimed in, saying, "Look at expiration dates. They didn't used to be required, and the information on them isn't really accurate." "So we should put more useless information on labels?"

At this point, I took a cheap parting shot and made my getaway. If those are their best arguments, then I can only assume they're getting very little informed pushback from their targets. Depressing, but what else would you expect?
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This is for [livejournal.com profile] febrile, who was lamenting on That Other Social Network that he misses the political discussion we used to have on LJ. If you see this, pal, post whatever you like and I'll do my best to respond in kind.

Naturally, the uproar over the disturbances in Baltimore is laying bare the limitations of Fakepuck for informed discourse in a particularly heinous. I'm expecting at least one deFriending (no big loss) despite doing my best not to get too deeply into it with anybody. But it's hard to hold my tongue when others are doing so much sanctimonious clucking about a few incidents of looting. (Almost solely from light-skinned people of privilege who have never had to live anywhere as shitty as West Baltimore, natch.) 'Cause that's really the main problem here, not--for instance--the fact that, just since 2011, eleven people have died in police custody in Baltimore and the force have been forced to pay out sums totaling over $5.7 million to settle cases of alleged undue use of force.

And then of course there's Gray's rap sheet, which has been circulating around the conservative blogosphere with such alacrity you'd think it'd just been leaked rather than being something which was widely reported in the dirty liberal media two weeks ago. But that's the most important thing to establish at this juncture: He Got What Was Coming. 33 counts in 8 years, only two violent, and every one of them a misdemeanour. Fully two-thirds are drug offences: possession, possession with intent to distribute, or distribution. Almost all the rest (e.g. violation of probation, lying to a cop, second-degree escape) are related to going through the wringer of the criminal justice system. His last arrest was for possession of a switchblade, which they had to run him down, tackle him (injuring him severely in the process), and search him to find. In other words, he's just the kind of low-level victim of the War On Drugs libertarians would leap to defend--if he were White. (But this isn't about race, oh no, it's about ethics in games journalism or something.)

You know how every time anyone--but especially a Muslim--goes on air to try to explain the reasons why it might be that young Muslims are so fed up with the world that some of them decide to blow themselves up or take hostages or whatever, they always have to preface their remarks with a ritualistic denial of support for terrorism? I think we all agree this is bullshit, but since the expectation doesn't seem to be going anywhere, I'd like to propose an equivalent for any time White people try to talk about the police. We should all be expected to say upfront that police brutality and extrajudicial murder are a Bad Things and that everyone in blue should really try the durnedest to stop doing them. Because I keep seeing people jump right into slamming the victim and condemning the outcry and it makes me honestly wonder if they don't see this as a problem the way the rest of us do.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I'm having a mixed reaction to the events at Charlie Hebdo. On the one hand, the massacre is horrific and I absolutely don't hold the victims accountable for it. Whatever the provocation, it was entirely the killers' decision to take up arms and needlessly slaughter people. However, baiting Muslims has been the magazine's stock-in-trade for some years now. Despite the outlandish claims of Islamophobes, Muslims are still very much a minority in France and a disadvantaged one, which means this is punching down. So I'm not eager to see these cartoonists acclaimed as free-speech martyrs.

Worse, all they've really gone and proved by pulling the tiger's tail is that if you keep it up long enough, eventually unstable men will take up arms against you. We kind of knew that already, didn't we? Ultimately all this does is play into the hands of extremists on both sides. Seeing those who seek to humiliate Islam taken down a peg is a great recruitment tool for young radicals. Conversely, those demagogues warning of "Eurabia" have further confirmation for their contention that Islam is incompatible with modern civilisation.

So now we have a dozen people dead, thousands more living in fear, and no end in sight to the rising tensions between immigrants and nativists in Europe or elsewhere. I can't and won't criticise these journalists for "getting themselves killed"; that's victim-blaming nonsense. But several of them did contribute to making our world a little bit worse, and for what?

ETA: Given the professionalism of the assassins, Juan Cole posits that this was an al-Qaeda plot to provoke an overreaction that will further alienate young Muslims in Europe.

Sandip Roy shares some of my reservations. Jacob Canfield goes further. ("In summary: Nobody should have been killed over those cartoons. Fuck those cartoons.") Surprisingly good discussion in comments.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Somewhere in this apartment I have a chunk of the Berlin Wall. This is not one of the pretty shards chipped to a convenient size and tarted up by industrious Turks for sale at the Brandenburg Gate. (When I visited Berlin in 1990, I had vantage point from which I could see the entire impressive assembly line.) It's a part of the wall Westerners didn't see, the part fronting to the east on the other side of the Death Strip. Constructed about ten years later, it's appalling how poor the quality of the concrete is. The original piece I found fallen on the sidewalk was too large and breaking it down to portable size only took a few whacks against the pavement.

While visiting Rome the following year, I met an East German exile named Holger Hinze. We exchanged information and five years later, when I returned to Berlin with Nuphy, he showed us around the commune he lived in in Weissensee. But our first meeting was at the Vatican and I tried to explain to him what it was like being an ex-Catholic, how there's something about that upbringing you can never shake. He told me it was the same for Ossis, that no matter how long they lived in a united Germany, they would be bound together by that common experience. Recently, Die Zeit published a series of maps supporting that contention.
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Aug. 5th, 2014 09:59 pm

KEEP OUT

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
In a ruling that apparently came as a surprise to no one, a Denver bear bar was found guilty of illegally discriminating against less "masculine" individuals. The investigation was triggered by a drag queen, who was refused entry last year. The owners claim it was because her appearance didn't match the driver's licence photo which is (a) transparent bullshit and (b) has been used as an excuse to discriminate against transfolk since forever. DORA, the state regulatory agency, says it found a clear pattern of discrimination which has been confirmed by various individuals familiar with the place.

I filled in [livejournal.com profile] monshu, and we traded stories about how gay bars have historically used dress codes to illegally bar people who made their clientele uncomfortable. He told me that in SF, some bars banned open-toed shoes. This being California, there were plenty of men as well as women in sandals, but only the toe-baring customers with vaginas got turned away. When I first began visiting bars in St Louis (three years underage), my gay best friend informed me that "NO HATS" was a dodge for keeping out blacks. I'm not sure what the tricks were in Chicago, I just know bar owners must've had them here, too. If so, they're not enforced like they used to be, judging from the drag queen with the light-up bouffant in the back bar at Touché last Saturday.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I've now seen a number of posts commemorating the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre and I find it interesting to note that not one of them has featured this image. This is the Goddess of Democracy, modeled on the Statue of Liberty and constructed in only a few days chiefly from papier-mâché and foam. For several days, this was the global emblem of the pro-democracy movement, but after it was destroyed in the assault, the image of Tank Man quickly took its place.

It's easy to understand why: Tank man is a powerful image. I find it hard to look at without getting choked up (or at least I used to before it became overexposed to the point where it began to appear in Apple ads). It symbolises the ability of a single person to take a stand against tyranny and oppression, and that's inspiring.

But it also leaves a lot out. The Goddess was a communal project, and that reflects how I remember the movement. At the VP Fair in St Louis, Chinese students at Washington University had a booth where they were selling calligraphy and paper cutouts in order to benefit their comrades back home. I still have a paper tiger and a pink sheet of paper with the words "I am a giant duck" packed away in a box in the basement. It was salutary for me to see that kind of cooperation. After all, not one of us in a million can be another Tank Man.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
So for days I've been mulling a rant in response to this open letter chastising those who called for the resignation of Brendan Eich and warning of the dire consequences of this kind of "intolerance". (I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty sick of being called "intolerant" for not particularly caring that an anti-gay millionaire lost his job for badly handling his first PR crisis as CEO.) Now, thanks to Donald Sterling, I don't have to.

I do wonder if I'm guilty of a false equivalence here, but to the degree the cases aren't comparable, I think they actually favour Sterling. After all, his remarks were private and involved only private affairs (i.e. who his girlfriend should associate with). Eich's donation was public and had the political aim of depriving others of their civil rights (unconstitutionally, as it turns out). David Badash spells it all out pretty clearly I think. Perhaps I'm missing something, though, so I'm hoping one of the signatories comes forward to take and defend a stand on Sterling so I can pick through their justification.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I was more than a little surprised to find out yesterday (again from reading the Economist) about the riots in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Not because I don't expect unrest there, but because I've heard literally nothing from any other news outlet. I'm not especially catholic in my choice of sites (generally BBC, al-Jazeerah, and my customised Google feed) and I don't spend a big chunk of each day reading them, but I like to think that when there are widespread anti-governmental riots in a European state my country was instrumental in creating, I'll hear about it sooner rather than later--let alone two weeks later.

Delving a bit more into the story, it's not hard to see why there wasn't more coverage. We have a prevailing narrative in the USA about the region which can be summed up as, "Whaddya expect, it's the Balkans." If the clashes had been interethnic, they would've fit right into that narrative. But they weren't. Instead we had crowds of all ethnicities taking on corrupt officials installed with the backing of the EU and its allies (e.g. us). It has far less in common with the "ancient hatreds" which led to the breakup of Yugoslavia than with the Occupy movement and--as we know--reporting on non-USA demonstrations relating to that has been dismal. In addition, despite the presence of Muslims in Bosnia, it can't be linked to the Arab Spring either because, as mentioned above, it's a regime we support, not one we want to see "changed".

Given that, it's not at all unexpected to hear from people in former Yugoslavia that the demonstrations have actually been going on for a year, but it took a building being burnt down to net them any sort of mention in the foreign press. Now that the "riots" have mostly ended, we'll probably stop hearing anything at all. Which is a damn shame, because the system of citizen-organised "plena" which are presently negotiating with local authorities is heartening and a model for how Occupy might've played out if we only trusted direct democracy in this country a bit more.
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Feb. 3rd, 2014 10:06 pm

Beautiful

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This whole manufactured furore over Cocaine Cola's Superb Owl ad is getting on my wick. I'm not suggesting that they actually paid Twitteracists to spew abuse on command; they knew they didn't have to. At this point their attention-whoring hate waves are so predictable that it was enough to wave some red-dyed meat in front of them. After that, the media predictably swoops in to serve up their turds with falsepious handwringing commentary as clickbait for all Right Thinking People to share on Fakebook so they can proudly proclaim what Good Liberals they are. The end result is that a hackneyed advertisement by a union-busting polluting Putin-patsy is getting far more exposure than it ever would have on its merits and generating warm brand fuzzies among the very same do-gooders who last week were seeking its hide for giving schoolchildren diabetes.

I know, I know: welcome to the way we do business today. If you don't like it, sign off social media and go find a vacant lot where you can show street urchins how to grow their own flaxseed for smoothies. Sigh. Isn't it enough that I keep stuffing my dollars into the pockets of global corporate predators? Why aren't they satisfied until I'm out there whoring for them as well?
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
In his journal, [livejournal.com profile] fengi laments the dearth of mentions of the War in Iraq on this, the tenth anniversary of its commencement. I was going to let it slide because, frankly, I don't have anything interesting to say about it, and I doubt the majority of my flist do either. Most of the commentary I have seen is rather light on content, or focuses on the stateside effects of the war.

But there is one thing about which I wonder what opinions people have and that is: What do you think Iraq would look like today if the US and its allies had not invaded a decade ago? Who would be in power and with what sort of legitimacy? What would its domestic situation and foreign relations look like, who would be better off and who would be worse?

If someone has links to informed articles addressing this (whether you agree with their conclusions or not) please share them.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Here's the Trib on voter disenfranchisement, Chicago-style. I saw this happen at my own polling place, which I showed up at fifteen minutes before closing. There were three people in line in front of me (all minority women, as it turned out), none of whom was registered in my same precinct. The two Latinas were more fortunate; their polling place was two (long) blocks due south, and one of the judges was confident they could make it there before 7 p.m. But no one had a clue where the young black woman needed to go. They told her the number to call, but she replied "There's no point, is there? I couldn't make it there before they close." And she was right.

Yes, I know, the Board of Elections sent everyone letters two months ago with the changes, but it's easy for notifications like that to get lost among the junk mail. Moreover, it's the kind of thing you wouldn't know to look out for if you didn't know to look out for it. What I mean is, some voters' polling stations had been the same for twenty years or more. Why should they expect that they'd change overnight? And I do mean "overnight"--one of my coworkers found that her actual polling place was not the same one she'd been told it would be the night before.

A lot of people I know were down on the election judges, but what do you honestly expect from amateurs paid barely $5 more than minimum wage?
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Aug. 13th, 2012 01:22 pm

Bullets

muckefuck: (Default)
I didn't want to run the risk of starting this week low on indignation, so I did some Googling on the G20 in Toronto and the long long tail of dealing with the fallout. The report of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (PDF) came out in May and it's pretty damning: An inadequate policing plan developed without civilian oversight was poorly communicated to officers, who in turn didn't communicate well with the public, leading to widespread violations of civil rights (some of them "grave") which the higher-ups took insufficient actions to remedy. Basically, it's what anyone who followed the protests already knew.

I was also interested in the outcome of the "the largest mass arrest in Canadian history", but it's been harder to find a solid summary than I thought. According to the report, record keeping was so shambolic we don't even know how many people were arrested. A lot of news reports quote the Toronto Police's official figure of 1,118, but the investigation revealed that the real number was at least 1,140 and could be much higher. The most comprehensive breakdowns I can find are almost a year out of date and show only 24 convictions (2.1% of those arrested). Only 317 people were ever formally charged with a crime and 196 of those cases (nearly two-thirds) were stayed, withdrawn, or otherwise dismissed.

A more recent update puts the number of convictions at "close to four dozen", which must include the six convictions as resulting from a plea-bargain in the recently-concluded trial of the "conspirators cell" which was taken into custody before any property crimes took place. The "ringleaders" were convicted of "counselling others to commit mischief" and "counselling others to obstruct police", which don't require any proof of a connexion between the act of counselling and actual commission of a crime. (Basically, they're like "conspiracy" charges in US courts but with a lower burden of proof.) So some anarchists told some guys to do illegal things and not get caught, and those guys might not have even been at the G20, let alone done anything criminal. Bet you feel better knowing they're all behind bars, doncha!

As for the many officers accused of brutality and other violations? The latest seems to be that it will be September at the earliest (27 months after their alleged misconduct) before any of them could face any sort of disciplinary action. Apparently somewhere between 30-40 may end up being formally charged. Two have been brought to trial already, including one member of the Special Investigations Unit trio who were filmed beating up an unarmed, non-resisting demonstrator. I assume at least those two have been removed from active duty, but I don't know about any of the rest.

Why do I care? Well, we nearly missed having the G8 summit in Chicago this year. And I'm sure if we had, we would've had a depressingly familiar stew of poor communication and police overreaction. It's only a last-minute venue change that saved us from that, and we can't keep dodging bullets like that indefinitely--particularly not with the sort of would-be tough guy influence brokers that the job of Mare attracts in this town.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Has anyone else been following the circumcision controversy in Germany? My immediate reaction was shock that a European court would make such a ruling. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what was actually wrong with it.

What actually caused me to reevaluate my thinking was the headline Circumcision Ruling Called Threat to Religion. To which my reaction was "Good!" I'm much more comfortable with threats to religion than I was even a few years ago. I used to be more live-and-let-live. After all, what do I care what someone else believes? But I'm really fed up with the amount of harm I see being done out of ostensibly religious motives. Sure, secularists do plenty of harm as well. Penn State didn't need any religious justification to ignore the abuse of adolescents. But look at how it is now being held to account and think how differently things would look today if the Catholic Church were forced to undergo the same.

Of course, that headline is only shorthand--what they were actually reporting is that religious authorities were calling the ruling a threat to freedom of religion--and freedom of expression is something I take very seriously. But how well does this charge actually hold up? Contrary to the hysteria, it's not a "ban" on circumcision; it's a circumscription of the practice of circumcision by the right to consent. (Or, if you will, a ban on circumcision of minors.) A person's right to undergo unnecessary surgery for religious reasons is not being infringed; rather, their right to force that upon someone else is.

So far, the counterarguments I've seen to this have been (1) "It's tradition" and (2) "It's anti-Semitism". As you can imagine, I'm particularly annoyed by the later (and its insulting implication that Germany should forever be held to a higher standard in this respect than any other society in the world because Holocaust), not least of all because the case revolved around a Muslim family. But the first argument is pretty damn weak as well. What great vice in our history hasn't been defended with "We've always done it?" We've always owned slaves. We've always executed sodomites. We've always silenced women. (See, it says so right here in this ancient book we carry around!)

I understand that the consensus is still incomplete on the harm done by circumcision, but that does seem to be the direction we're moving. I'm not fond of comparisons between male circumcision and female genital mutilation, since I think they tend to trivialise the truly horrific nature of the latter, but it does seem rather apt when we're talking about specifically religious justifications for surgical modifications. If any rabbis have been willing to stand up and defend the right of pious Muslims to have their daughter's clitores cut out, I must've missed it. So what is so different in this case?

The BBC article I link to above closes with an argument that Christian baptism also "pre-construct[s] the religious position of little children". But who in the anti-circumcision camp is arguing that that is the primary harm being done here? Not to say there isn't a case to be made for that, but the concern of most people--the concern of the court, in this ruling--is with the physical harm being done to a non-consenting and defenceless human being. I'm finding it hard to understand why someone else's right to free expression should trump that.
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muckefuck: (Default)
"The fact remains there's still 7 million illegal aliens occupying jobs that should go to American citizens. It's nowhere near mission accomplished." --Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times
There are so many misconceptions packed into this one short statement that it's, in some sense, a masterpiece of concision. I don't even know where to start unpacking and refuting them all. I just want to flippantly reply, "So give them all American citizenship. Problem solved!"
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muckefuck: (Default)
Am I the only one who finds the whole Cynthia Nixon brouhaha absolutely depressing? Even her defenders strike me as being essentially reactive and confused in their thinking. A typical example:
As a member of the gay community, I knew what she meant all along. I was never angry at her. What I was angry at was this was an opportunity, as always, for anti-gays to take ONE example and apply it to the ENTIRE group. It's a frustration with THEIR bigotry, not her.
And, so what? Haters gonna hate. Anti-gay bigots will always be scouring the totality of the queer experience for that handful of instances which confirm their established prejudices and then trumpeting those to anyone who'll listen. But why do we care so much now that fewer and fewer people are listening? Why are we more worried about the message remarks like Nixon's are sending to our "enemies" than the message our reaction to them is sending to our allies?

What is that message? From my point of view, intolerance and insecurity. Nixon made it explicit that she was talking solely about her own personal experience and yet she's being everywhere taken to task for being "unclear" and "irresponsible". This sends the message that people shouldn't be allowed to talk about their experiences if they don't fit the dominant narrative. And all the very public hand-wringing about how these comments will be "used against us" makes it look like we haven't escaped the ghetto mentality of a generation ago. Today it's not the queers and their allies who are in the minority any more, it's the homophobes.

"It's not a choice" is not the sole or even chief basis for demanding equal rights in this country. After all, religious minorities are a protected class before the law and if being a Christian isn't a choice, then why are so many people trying to get me to "choose Jesus"? Sexual minorities should be treated as equal before the law because there's no compelling argument for them not to be, just some claptrap about "traditional values" cobbled together from squeamishness and bits of scripture. Cynthia Nixon's remarks don't weaken the position of gay rights advocates in anyone's eyes but their own--a perceived threat that risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Nov. 20th, 2011 08:13 pm

Occupied

muckefuck: (Default)
I wanted to post about some of the fun things I did this weekend, but it's hard when my head is so full of the images from the UC Davis protests. It's not the brutality of Lt Pike that sticks in my mind--the ubiquity of cell phones at protests has made me sadly hardened to that kind of abuse of power. No, what sticks with me is the reaction of the crowd. As [livejournal.com profile] qwrrty pointed out when he presented footage of the pepper-spraying, that standoff has the potential to turn into something truly ugly if it hadn't been defused by the protesters (given that the instincts of the police seemed to be set on escalation rather than negotiation).

If anything, the sequel was even more impressive. I'm sure by now you've seen the video of Chancellor Katehi's "perp walk" through hundreds of stock silent protestors. [livejournal.com profile] lucentnotion says it gave him "chills" and I know what he means. Anyone who's ever been at a loose gathering of people--even just an ordinary crowd, let alone a throng of angry protestors--knows how hard it is to get them to stay absolutely quiet. It tells me that whoever is taking responsibility for organising these protests is extremely competent.

It's hard to imagine how anyone could have more thoroughly undermined the University Chancellor's narrative--that "a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal" or that she was kept cooped up for hours because she feared for her "safety". If you don't feel safe in a crowd of several hundred peaceful, reasonable, well-disciplined young people and you can think of "no other option" to address their legitimate concerns besides calling police in riot gear, then perhaps being in charge of a major university is not a suitable career choice.

All in all, those viral videos are some of the best advertisements for the efficacy of nonviolent protest I've seen in ages. Recent history is filled with examples of protest movements which began peaceful but turned deadly due to the radicalising effects of authorities overreacting. This gives me hope that, just maybe, that won't happen this time.
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When I first heard of "mandatory voting", I thought it was a bad idea. Liberal Australians informing me how popular such measures were couldn't convince me otherwise. Being a snotty elitist, I think we already have too many numbskulls voting. If you can't be arsed to even make it to the polls, it's a fair bet we're all better off without you skewing the results by voting a straight-party ticket or picking the candidate with the most Irish-sounding name or whatever. However, all the recent shenanigans aimed at disinfranchising voters (primarily schemes requiring photo IDs in order to establish eligibility) have forced me to ponder whether mandatory voting may actually be the best way to do an end run around them. Or course, we could simply end up with the worst of both worlds: Citizens not just prevented from voting but forced to pay a fine to boot.
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