We’re gonna talk about those missing black girls, right?

The mainstream media has either been silent or only mentioned it as an afterthought, but 14–fourteen–black girls went missing in a very short period of time in Washington D.C. Since the pastey-white-ass media and police seems to be sitting on its thumbs, the black community has been relying on almost entirely social media and smaller outlets. Protect and serve my ass.

So here’s my part: Ezinne Ukoha has summarized the situation. Your part: Signal boost and keep your ears to the ground. The police are apparently taking it easy over coffee, so twat at them, or call their feedback lines. If they don’t have feedback lines, join up with a local BLM. If you’re white, follow their direction.

The Root.

The Mary Sue.



“Yes, we are brainwashing you.”

Hey, remember the last time I posted about the “Troubled Teen” IndustryThe Establishment just recently published some fantastic investigative journalism by Aaron Kappel over the Shepherd Hill Academy, another “Christian counselling” wilderness torture camp designed to obliterate the personality and well being of teens under the yoke of wealthy, shithole parents.

Check this out (or don’t, I don’t blame you):

The survivor also claims in his statement to have interrupted a Bible lesson taught by Embry. “[He] raised [his] hand and said, ‘You are brainwashing us.’ Embry smiled and replied, ‘Yes we are! We are brainwashing you in the blood of the lamb!’”

If you have the stomach, read the rest here and here, content warning all the things again. And try not to type anything into the comments that will get you on a watch list, no matter how badly Embry deserves it.


How to write about lies

Judith Donath has some sage advice about how to write and debunk falsehoods. She notes on the tendency for falsehoods to be believed if they are repeated often enough, something which short-circuits the more cautious and structured thinking of explicit rationalism. In attempting to debunk something, one must avoid this by first stating the truth, then stating the lie, then stating the truth again. Instead, most outlets put the lie in their headline, the lie at the start of the article, and a video (if spoken) repeating the lie a third time, long before the author gets around to fact checking.

But there is one big drawback to fact-checking and lie-correcting. The more often a lie is repeated, even in the context of debunking it, the more believable it becomes.Familiarity provides the impression of truth. Furthermore, false statements, even when we know they are false, influence our emotional response to people and events.

So, we need to be judicious in our zeal to correct.

One simple and effective, yet often overlooked, action is to be smarter about how we present corrections.

· State the truth in the headline (or tweet), rather than repeating the falsehood.

· Use vivid graphics that depict reality

· If the key point is that someone is lying — say that. Then state the truth. Don’t restate the lie in the headline.

This advice is not only for journalists, but for all of us who post stories on Twitter, Facebook etc. Multiple exposures to an “alternative fact” gives it credence. Remember to make the truth, not the falsehood, the most vivid take-away.

Let’s look at an example.

Read more here. I will certainly be following this advice.


Oh joy! More cults!

Disclaimer: This isn’t a new cult, just a particular cult I hadn’t previously been aware of. As with all ultra-conservative religious sects, content notice for the usual strains of intense and inhumane abuse.

This time it’s Hasidic Judaism. Batya Ungar-Sargon details with stomach-churning precision some of the communal practices that lead to appalling human rights abuses. And the worst part? They’ve found psychiatrists to help in the job.

But two Hasidim married to other people don’t just get a divorce and start a new life together. The community got involved. A rabbi and what’s known as an askan, a person of influence in the Hasidic community, were given Joseph’s “case.” The role of an askan — collectively called askanim — is part politician, part good Samaritan, and part busybody. Together, Joseph’s rabbi and the askan appointed by the community to his case staged an intervention. Joseph says they got involved in every level of his life, in order to prevent him from leaving his family and starting a new one. They took away Joseph’s BlackBerry. The askan started monitoring Joseph’s computer, a mirror image of Joseph’s screen under surveillance at all times. Joseph’s brother-in-law started tracking Joseph’s car, where he went and whom he saw.

Joseph was faced with a choice: surrender to the will of his community’s leaders, or risk public shaming, and worse — losing his children and friends. He capitulated, and promised never to see Dini again. But that was not enough. The askan chose a psychologist to provide Joseph with talk therapy, and then a psychiatrist for medication, who started Joseph on a course of chemical treatment for sex addiction.

It’s some pretty grizzly reading, but if you’re up to it, there’s more on Hasidic Judaism here.


Signal boosting: Trans people shouldn’t have to be perfect

Alex DiFrancesco touches upon the observation that trans women with high visibility are held to ludicrous standards, and that these standards stifle perceptions of us as just ordinary flawed human beings:

None of this made it into the final piece. I am shaking just writing these things now. Because I know, as a trans person, as someone writing about trans people, as an ally to trans women, that I am never ever supposed to publicly suggest something that could make any trans person look bad. I am never supposed to write that I was abused by a trans woman, because this is exactly what the people who want to see all trans people disappear off the face of the earth want everyone else to think is true of all trans women. I am never to suggest that a vulnerable population (which I am part of) could be anything less than perfect.

For the record, the idea that a relationship with one abusive trans woman validates all the horrible things trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and others say about trans women is absurd. Were a cis person, male or female, to be abusive in a relationship, no one would ever take that to mean all cis people are abusive.

My ex-wife is one person out of the large community of trans people I know and love. The wonderful people I know among this community, most of them transgender women, have taken me into their homes when I was homeless, supported me mentally and emotionally when I was at my worst, helped me find jobs, and fed me when I was hungry and broke. They are people I turn to when I am unsure about my own often imperfect politics, or the many issues I myself have as a person. And yet the fear instilled by TERFs is so real that many trans writers, when telling their stories, feel we are not supposed to talk about anything that questions any trans person beyond the confines of our own community. Certainly not in venues for public or cis consumption.

You can read more about it and the silencing effect of TERF-perpetrated oppression has here.


Man, Earth is fucking weird

Every so often somebody writes about the wildlife on Earth I have yet to encounter. Typically it’s the deep sea animals that get a resounding “wtf” from me, but today I learned about another weirdo endangered mammal called the pangolin.

Like an armadillo’s shell, a pangolin’s scales are made of keratin, the same material that comprises mammal horns and fingernails. In a real sense, pangolin scales are made of densely fused hair, and they can be lifted and moved to, for example, crush ants defending their nest by getting between them to bite the underlying skin. Combining this highly unusual protective coat with the pangolin’s specialized tongue, which is disconnected from the hyoid bone in the throat to allow it to be up to a third of the animal’s total length, and their tiny, narrow heads provides an alien visage that no other creature on Earth can match.

Read more about these adorable weirdos here. Warning: It’s a story of frauds exploiting mystical myths and as is often the case with animals targeted for these practices, the harvesting methods are gruesome.


Misogyny in healthcare and women’s disabilities

Ania over on The Orbit discusses how the misogyny of front line healthcare providers can result in delays for women who may be experiencing the early symptoms of chronic illness. This delay in healthcare often exacerbates the problem:

On my Facebook memories page, I found an old Tumblr picture that includes stories from a series of girls talking about how their appendix burst because they didn’t realize the pain they were feeling wasn’t cramps. The post goes on to explain the difference between menstrual pain and appendix pain. The stories were a way for girls to discuss just how painful cramps can be – that appendicitis, which is known to be extremely painful, was not different enough from their regular menstrual pain to be noticeable.

I had shared the post, along with my commentary that the suggestion to talk to your parents or school nurse about pain, even if it was “only cramps”, ignored the reality of most people who experience menstruation who are told that they are overreacting and to suck it up. Many of us have been told that all women deal with it and that it’s not that bad. Even when my cramps would leave me shaking and with a fever, I was expected to go to class and carry on as though everything was normal. After all “every woman goes through the same thing”. (Not all women actually, and not all people who do are women, but that’s another post for another time).

In terms of what to do, this seems harder. More frustratingly, the impetus of finding a not-piece-of-shit doctor is on the patient, rather than the system which is unlikely to discipline a doctor for this kind of negligence. I suppose in terms of preserving your health it that’s what you might have to do–ask around for someone who will take the initial reports seriously and consider additional screening early on.

All of which is moot, of course, if you’re American and don’t have coverage. sigh. Every time I do homework in this area I find myself fantasizing about lining the GOP against the wall and executing them by firing squad. The degree and severity of utter negligence just astonishes me. I thought sociopaths were vanishingly rare but apparently enough Republican voters are just peachy with these outcomes?


Including chronic illness in your healthcare activism

Get your IUD before Planned Parenthood closes? Stock up on your meds? Well, when your med is radiation, that’s not exactly an option. Alaina Leary points out that the Affordable Care Act repeal, if/when it comes, is going to come down hard on those with chronic illnesses above all else:

With all the recent public discussion about the Affordable Care Act and women’s access to health care, I’ve seen a lot of posts urging people to “seek healthcare now, while you still can.” They suggest that readers stockpile their medications, schedule all their annual visits, and look into long-term birth control like IUDs. These tips are meant to help, and will help many. But they almost always leave people with disabilities and chronic health conditions out of the conversation — and we’re arguably one of the most vulnerable groups that can be affected by universal healthcare laws.

While some medications can certainly be stockpiled (my dad has been stockpiling his acid reflux and allergy medications for over two years now in case he ever loses coverage again), many cannot, including chemotherapy, insulin injections, birth control, many medications for mental health conditions, and any controlled substance. Stocking up on meds is a good idea for the basically healthy and able-bodied, but it’s not feasible for many of the people who are in the most danger from losing their prescription coverage.

“Get an IUD now before birth control stops being covered” is also fantastic advice — except for all the people it leaves out. I’m on a daily hormonal birth control entirely for serious medical reasons; I’d be physically devastated if the Pill became prohibitively expensive, whether I got an IUD or not. There are also plenty of people who can’t choose IUDs because their bodies will reject them, or they won’t be able to physically get it implanted to begin with. By treating IUDs as an imperative, we risk not only ignoring these people but making them feel alienated and hopeless.

Here’s another vile fact to file under “reasons Republican voters should be disenfranchised”–estimates of the number of people dying without healthcare if the ACA is repealed and the individual mandate is not replaced come in between 36,000/year to 64,000/year, the majority of which would be folks with chronic illness. “Negligent manslaughter” is an understatement.


Signal boosting: The benefits of having disabled kids in your class

Disability rights are something even ess jay double-yoos frequently fail on, so I’m going to round up a few articles over the next few days to really signal boost some disability activism.

Today Sarah Kurchak discusses the benefits of having disabled children in your public education classes.

When I was in school, I liked integrated classrooms because they led to some of my best memories. Like becoming friends with M, a girl with good taste in toys, an offbeat sense of humor entirely in line with my own, and Down syndrome. We met in kindergarten and stayed close until she moved away a few years later. Or the morning ritual that I developed with my friend J when she started using a wheelchair more regularly in high school — we’d meet in front of the building’s brand new accessible elevator to ride up to first period science on the second floor together, often accompanied by our non-verbal classmate, N, and his full-time assistant. J’s part-time assistant also helped me build my woodworking project after I had a minor episode in grade nine shop class. I wonder if she took one look at the girl flinching at the sound of the buzz saws and perseverating about the potential for gruesome saw-related accidents and realized that helping me wasn’t exactly out of her purview as a special educator.

When I was finally diagnosed with autism at the age of 27, it was those memories that saved me. The fallout from that long-overdue diagnosis might have been a shambles of frustration, relief, confusion about what to do next, and a slew of backhanded support (more than one good friend responded to my news by saying “Well, I hope you’re not going to use that as an excuse to be an asshole.”). But the one thing I didn’t struggle with was calling myself “disabled.” It was easy for me to embrace that I had a disability — or anyway, easier than it might otherwise have been — because disabled people were already a normal part of my life. And there was certainly no shame or discomfort to be had in the realization that I was even more like my friends than I’d previously considered.

Kurchak brings up a good point. Ability is not always something we are born with–in some skills and circumstances, it is learned. Which means it can be forgotten, either because we stop using it, because we become injured, or because we always had a disability even if it wasn’t recognized.

Just knowing people with disability will increase the mindfulness regarding public policy. I see plenty of us filthy SJWs rightly twisted in knots over–well, damn near everything at this point–but not as much commentary on DeVos knowing fuck all about disability rights laws for American students. Maybe more activists would be less likely to forget if they were educated in integrated classrooms.