Interesting Times

So Friday was a bit of a strange day. It started with management splitting up my former manager’s team and parceling us out other managers. It continued with me filing an ethics complaint because of my concerns over the legality of his firing. It concluded with them suspending me with pay “pending investigation.” Investigating what? They wouldn’t say. Not to me, and not to the union steward. Why did they suspend me, then? They said they were investigating to find that out. True fucking story. What they appeared to be doing is getting me out of the way while they attempted to find something they could use to intimidate me into silence. That’s certainly how it seemed.

That impression intensified Monday, when they tried to intimidate me with some pretty weak tea. Alas for them, witnesses witnessed, and they have nothing. They ended up returning me to duty after a brief attempt at silencing me about the whole affair, which I nixed by pointing out that such attempt is very possibly illegal and I would have to seek advice, after which the request changed from silence to “discretion” with a quickness. They’re still “investigating.” I have no way to be certain, but it looks very much like a spirited attempt at retaliation, boys and girls. This appearance is creating what we in the business call “a hostile work environment.” This could lead to Very Interesting Times, indeed. I’m certainly finding them fascinating so far.

I’m not ready to tell the whole story just yet. I have certain avenues I’m pursuing, and shall hold my tongue publicly until I have professional legal advice. I will, however, make the observation that both my manager and myself found our jobs threatened or ended just after filing ethics complaints. I believe that fact will prove to be of some interest to various parties going forward.

Thank you, those of you who forwarded the names of attorneys. That will be very helpful to both my former manager and myself, and possibly others.

A few things I want to make sure are crystal clear:

1. I don’t want you to worry about me (this means you, Mom and Dad!).

2. Please don’t die of curiosity. I know this is all rather vague, but depending on certain outcomes, it may not be vague for long.

3. I’m fine. Seriously, fine. I was prepared for this eventuality, and I have time now to prepare even further. So see #1

I may at some point need to hold out the tip jar. You’re under no obligation to fill it if so, but anyone who can help when that time comes will have my undying gratitude and possibly swag. I’ll do me best to make it worth your while. And I beg your patience in advance, because there may be some days when I have to neglect the blog in favor of working on this stuff. Hopefully, it won’t last long.

Wish me luck, my darlings.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

Sign to Save Amina

So here’s a thing that shouldn’t be happening: a young woman posts a picture of herself topless with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has been kidnapped “for her own good” and condemned to death by a cleric who thinks boobs and defiance are terrible things to display.

There is a petition here for those who would like to inform her government that neither of these things are at all acceptable. International pressure may help protect and save her from harm.

Also, April 4th will be the International Day to Defend Amina. Maryam Namazie has many excellent suggestions for doing so.

Let’s help make this shit stop.

Image courtesy Maryam Namazie.

Image courtesy Maryam Namazie.

Attention Washington Peeps: Lawyer Recommendations Needed

Some of you may be aware that all is not happy families at my place of business. Now the family is broken, because they decided to fire my manager. Yes, the one who stood by his employees. Yes, the one who had just filed an ethics complaint. And yes, they did it for a reason that is very close to blatantly illegal, if not right over the line.

My manager is, shall we say, exploring options in pursuing legal remedies . He’d like your assistance in finding the right person for the job. Let me know if you’re an employment attorney licensed to practice in the state of Washington, and enjoy the challenge of taking on well-known multinational companies. If you’re not an attorney but have recommendations, we’re all ears. Send your info to dhunterauthor at yahoo.

Thank you for your help!

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

“Rape is not a recreational activity.” Steubenville Rape Verdict Roundup

A near-miracle has happened: two rapists have been convicted of sexual assault. Excuse me, found “delinquent” in a juvenile court. At their ages, had they stolen something more than an intoxicated girl’s bodily integrity, they would have likely been charged as adults – but hey, it’s just rape. Not like they stole a car or murdered somebody, amirite? And, hey, if they learn the appropriate sorry-won’t-do-it-again words, they may not even have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Pretty sweet, huh? That’s actually amazing, considering how few rapists ever get convicted at all.

United States rape statistics. Those numbers should horrify every decent human being. Image courtesy RAINN.

United States rape statistics. Those numbers should horrify every decent human being. Image courtesy RAINN.

And you know what America’s future rapists are learning from this rare semi-functioning of the justice system? Don’t rape? Don’t make me laugh. No, what they’re learning is simple: don’t do your raping in front of dozens of witnesses, and don’t upload pictures and video of your raping to social media. That’s what the judge warned them about:

Judge Lipps described much of the evidence as “profane and ugly.” In sentencing the boys, he said rape was among the gravest of crimes and noted that they could have been tried as adults with far harsher punishments. He also said the case was a cautionary lesson in how teenagers conduct themselves when alcohol is present and in “how you record things on social media that are so prevalent today.”

Folks, this is rape culture. The message isn’t, “Don’t rape. Full stop.” No, it’s more of, “Try not to, and if you can’t help yourself, don’t make it so inescapably obvious. Because rape is just awful (wink, wink), but being forced to punish popular people is ever so much worse.”

And calling out rape culture and its apologists? Horrible.

And victims reporting their rapes and seeking a conviction? Obviously the worst thing of all, worthy of death threats and additional threats of rape, because how dare victims think they deserve justice?

One of the reasons I’m proud to blog at Freethought Blogs is because the bloggers and readers here don’t tolerate this shit. And maybe, just maybe, if we fight back against rape culture over and over and over and over again, we can begin to change it. If we refuse to be silenced, maybe, just maybe, this rape culture will no longer be studiously ignored. If we speak out forcefully, loudly, repeatedly, maybe there won’t be another person who doesn’t know what rape is:

One of the three, when asked why he did not try to stop what was happening, testified that he did not realize it was rape. “It wasn’t violent,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly what rape was.”

Following is a selection of links and comments from around FtB, with some from our allies. We’re not fighting this fight alone.

Butterflies and Wheels:

Steubenville: Richmond and Mays found guilty.

They didn’t realize?

If you don’t want to be treated like one…

Pharyngula:

Steubenville rapists found guilty.

Do you deny that rape culture exists?

I’m not usually a fan of dog-piling…

Brute Reason:

More About Justice and Less About Revenge: On Reading the Steubenville Coverage Too Early in the Goddamn Day. (If you only have time for one, make it this one. I mean it.)

Biodork:

Talking About Rape

Shakesville:

Steubenville Trial: Two Found Guilty.

An Observation.

The Raw Story:

CNN grieves that guilty verdict ruined ‘promising’ lives of Steubenville rapists.

The top 5 rape apologist reactions to the Steubenville rape verdict.

 

Some comments from our community:

tigtog on ignoring “trolls”:

One doesn’t have to be consciously/deliberately pro-rape to be an actively harmful participant in rape culture. Most rape culture involves trivialising and minimising the experience of rape, not promoting the practice of it.

Many people feel that the rigorous calling out of toxic victim-blaming and rape apologetics is a hugely important process contributiong towards the goal of dismantling rape culture. When you tell them to stop doing it just because you think that this one particular person’s statements are less important than Some V.V. Important Thing Which Is Gained By Ignoring Him, then you trivialising and minimising the experience of rape, by framing the naming and shaming of rape apologia as less important than the satisfaction you gain by ignoring this guy.

I absolutely believe that you are not personally/deliberately pro-rape. Telling others to ignore somebody who clearly is pro-rape doesn’t help you look like an effective anti-rape ally though.

And:

If it wasn’t for folks on the internet highlighting their vileness relentlessly for years and years, there probably wouldn’t be a cadre of volunteers to act as a buffer zone between the mourners at funerals and the WBC pickets, and the WBC would be spouting their vileness without opposing voices.

Clear strong opposing voices are much more comforting to the targeted than a dignified silence which opposes nothing.

 

The Mellow Monkey on silence in the face of rape apologia:

You know, I’ve been surrounded by people who go uncomfortably silent or just try to ignore nasty rape apologia for years. That silence has been every bit as damaging and hurtful as anything nasty someone could say, because either they are silently supporting the bad stuff or they just don’t care to provide support and defense to victims.

So when you say “Don’t Feed the Trolls”, you’re not just suggesting that you should deny a troll attention (and people seem to think anybody who disagrees with them is a “troll” only seeking attention instead of a genuinely hateful asshat, of which there are millions on this planet). You’re also suggesting that you should deny all of the survivors support. You’re suggesting that you should ignore the pain people are being caused. You’re suggesting that because you are lucky enough to not be hurt by those words, it’s the fault of a rape survivor for being upset by them.

Fuck that. I will continue calling it out every chance I get. Will it change the mind of the one spouting it? Probably not. But it might change the minds of all those assholes who sit around quietly refusing to take a stance. And–most important of all–it will make other survivors feel a little less alone and marginalized.

And that last one is a fucking hell lot more important than “oh no, some troll got attention.” That last one saves lives.

 

Pteryxx on rape culture:

 

No rape culture, eh?

-

*warning for victim-blaming within the trial, specifically re testifying, and photos – Og, brace yourself*

The alleged victim is not expected to testify when the trial begins in Jefferson County juvenile court — before outside judge Tom Lipps took over for a recused judge with ties to the famed Steubenville High football teach, a West Virginia judge blocked a subpoena of the girl and two other witnesses called by the defense. But that hasn’t stopped Richmond’s attorney from using Jane Doe’s so-called “silence” against her: “The person who is the accuser here is silent just as she was that night, and that’s because there was consent,” Madison said.

There it is. Directly claiming the silence of an unconscious victim equals consent. And using that claim to shame her for not testifying up to that point.

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/03/steubenville-trial-defense/62967/

More coverage of her testimony:

http://www.cleveland.com/steubenville-rape-case/index.ssf/2013/03/steubenville_rape_case_decisio.html

“Honestly, I was praying that everything I heard wasn’t true,” she testified. She didn’t want to be the center of drama, especially in a small town, everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere. “I thought everybody would blame me.”

And she was right.

On Aug. 14, after taking the teen to a medical center in her hometown of Weirton, her parents decided to go to police. She testified that she sat in the car.

“You never wanted to go to court on charges did you,” asked Marianne Hemmeter, a special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

“No,” the girl said, who has the 28th witness to testify during the trial, which began Wednesday.

And while CNN and almost all the coverage focuses on the poor promising rapists:

In the most outwardly emotional moment of the testimony, Hemmeter showed the 16-year-old a photo of herself that she had not seen. In the photo, she is lying on the tan carpet of a basement floor, naked and on her stomach. Her arms are underneath her body.

The girl began to cry, as did some of her family members, many of whom were wearing teal ribbons and the color teal, which is identified with supporting survivors of sexual assault.

“Do you remember that photo?” Hemmeter asked.

“No,” the teen replied.

“How’s that make you feel?” Hemmeter said softly.

“Not good,” she answered.

Even more here:

http://www.cleveland.com/steubenville-rape-case/index.ssf/2013/03/steubenville_rape_case_teen_gi.html#incart_river

She also testified that she did not want to go to police. She said it was her parents’ idea. She sent a text to one defendant, 17, saying, “We know you didn’t rape me.”

Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter asked her that when she sent the text, did she know that digital penetration was also rape. The girl said she didn’t know that. She also said she didn’t know she had been digitally penetrated.

Like most victims, like most people, she didn’t know what counted as rape. But she did know coming forward would make her a target, and would make her friends turn on her; because they already had, that very night.

Hemmeter read from three of the texts: “Reno (football coach Reno Saccoccia) just called my house and said I raped you,” one said.

Another said, “You know what happened, there’s no video, so nothing happened.”

The third said, “This is the most pointless thing I’m going to get in trouble for. I should be thanked for taking care of you.”

The girl testified that she was interested in him and left a party with him because she trusted him.

She trusted him, and he said “there’s no video, so nothing happened.” She trusted him, and her friends (now former friends) yelled at her and blamed her the next morning, before she even knew what had been done to her and before she even knew the word “rape” applied to it. Though judging by the video, her attackers knew perfectly well that’s what it was.

And that’s the story, her story, and basically all of our stories in one form or another, that’s being erased when all the sympathy’s given to her rapists. That’s rape culture in action.

There’s far more from excellent people. If you have time, read the threads on the FtB and allies posts linked above. Speak out. Change the culture. And let’s never forget what Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said as he promised to take this case further: “Rape is not a recreational activity.”

Sunday Sorrow: What We Can Do

No songs today. Something broke this time.

These mass killings have gone on since before I was born, and somehow I accepted them. Outrageous, horrible, tragic: can’t do anything about them in our gun-obsessed, health care-deprived, bullying, class-ridden society. Moving on, then.

Not this time.

These mass killings have gone on since before I was born. I want them to stop before I die.

And I will need your help. We are going to have to start pushing hard together for a great many things.

We will need evidence-based solutions. Good studies of mass killers will need to be done; those studies will have to be conceived of, and funded, and read, and digested, and disseminated, and acted upon.

We know, already, that these mass killers have a tendency to use the kind of weapons you don’t keep around the house for shooting deer. We may not yet know how to keep them from hatching fantasies of killing, but we do know one way to mitigate their damage: get the guns out of their hands. We do indeed have the right to bear arms in this country. That right does not need to include assault rifles, semi-automatic handguns, and extra-large clips with armor piercing and/or hollowpoint ammunition. You want to shoot that shit off, you can do it at a gun club where your weapons are kept under lock and key and not allowed to leave the premises.

These fantasies about more guns being the answer need to stop. Watch this video:

You are a howling idiot if you believe you could do any better. The answer is not more guns. Period, full stop.

But controlling guns alone won’t fix the problem.

We need to combat bullying in schools. Kids need to learn to accept differences, learn it early, and have it reinforced often. So many people who have gone on to kill were outcast, bullied, denigrated, driven to despair – and even if it turns out that stopping bullying doesn’t stop the kind of social dislocation that causes people to murder one another, it will sure as fuck prevent a few suicides, and that is reason enough to do it.

We must push for better health care. If health care of all sorts were as cheap and easy to obtain as bullets, and had just as little stigma attached, more people would be able to get the help and support they need, physically, mentally and emotionally. They might walk in to the doctor’s office for help with that pit they’re edging up to, before they’ve gone down in it and think they can only shoot their way out of.

And as I say this, we need to absolutely ensure that we are not falling into the trap of blaming what these people do on being mentally ill, developmentally disabled, learning disabled, or any other bullshit reason people reach for in order to draw a nice thick line between regular ol’ us and homicidal, horrible them. Yes, absolutely, they are disturbed. You do not shoot up crowds of people if you are not disturbed. But the vast majority of us have one or more of those illnesses or disabilities that people try to pin the blame on. If any one of us found ourselves angry and suicidal enough to follow the blaze-of-glory script, people could whip a quirk out of our quirk bag and wave it around shrieking, “That’s it!” They were depressed, or schizo, or bipolar, or ADD, or autistic, or dyslexic, or had a small lesion, or hit their head as a kid, or… the list goes on, it is endless, and it means bugger-all. Stop fucking stigmatizing every mentally ill person in the country by saying only people with a mental illness can kill. This is not true and it doesn’t help anyone.

Here’s a helpful reminder:

“Predicting the Risk of Future Dangerousness”

Phillipps, Robert T.M. Virtual Mentor. June 2012, Volume 14, Number 6: 472-476.

Abstract: “A consequence if not a driving force of the pendulum swing away from benevolence and toward the protection of others has been increased attention to an individual’s dangerousness, with the operative presumption that dangerousness is often the result of a mental illness. But dangerousness is not always the result of mental illness. Individuals who commit violent or aggressive acts often do so for reasons unrelated to mental illness…. Research, in fact, confirms the error in associating dangerousness with mental illness, showing that “the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses [8]. The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is still very small and…only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill” [4]. Violence is not a diagnosis nor is it a disease [9]. Potential to do harm is not a symptom or a sign of mental illness, rather it must be the central consideration when assessing future dangerousness.” [emphasis added]

Does mental illness need to be destigmatized, diagnosed, and treated? Absolutely. Are some killers mentally ill? Sure. But just like we know a few assault weapons bans won’t resolve the problem, we know – or should know – that we can’t blame mental illness for every asshole who walks into a crowded place and opens fire.

We must identify factors that can trigger violence, and put in place safety nets to keep people from falling too far. There are things we can do for those who have lost jobs, loved ones, suffered other triggering events that, combined with other factors, could help put them in a situation where violence seems like the best and only answer for them.

But we must also stop glorifying killers. We must stop treating them like rock stars. No matter the horror we express about what they’ve done, we allow them fame because they killed, and we must find a way to educate ourselves about them and their actions without giving them that fame.

We will have to work to change a culture where little boys are taught to glorify violence and turn their aggression outward while holding their pain in until they burst, while little girls are taught to harm themselves first of all. We need better definitions of action and heroism. We need to change certain aspects of our culture that are doing more harm than good.

We must address poverty, and economic disparity, and work to reduce the differences between the haves and have-nots. We need to make this country that much more just.

Those who still believe must realize that bringing prayer into schools will solve nothing. What use is a God who will let 20 kindergartners and first graders die because people didn’t praise it enough? God will always have an excuse to do nothing: wrong kind of prayer, not enough worship, whatever excuse believers can come up with to excuse its absence.

And we all must be relentless. Call and write your Congresspeople. Contact your governor; rattle the cages of your state representatives.

Sign petitions. You may think they’re useless, but they are voices, and enough voices raised to a shout might get heard.

Here is one on Whitehouse.gov: Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress. And, for good measure: Today IS the day: Sponsor strict gun control laws in the wake of the CT school massacre. Also, since you’re already there and because so much violence starts in the home: Change Domestic Violence Awareness month form October to May so that it can rise from the shadows of Breast Cancer.

Avaaz would like us to Tell the NRA: ENOUGH! I couldn’t agree more.

SignOn has this excellent petition: Newtown, today we tell our leaders “No more!”

Done signing petitions and writing to politicians? Want to do more than howl? Donate to Newtown Youth and Family Services. They have set up a fund for the Sandy Hook victims, and are providing desperately needed mental health services in the wake of this travesty.

Donate to the Red Cross, which responds in disasters like these, too.

And remember.

Roses.

And use your anger and pain for building a better world.

Enough Children Have Died

Enough children going to school, or out with their families, have died. Enough adults going to work, going out to eat, going shopping, going to the movies, have died. Enough people attending political rallies have died. Enough people have died.

It’s time to have a serious conversation as to why the United States has so many more of these shootings than anyone else.

It’s time to get serious about gun control.

It’s time we found the political will to face down the NRA and those who refuse to believe that regulating guns will solve anything, and make it much more diffcult for raging, hateful people to access the weapons they need for murder.

It’s time we found the political will to face down the cries of socialism and enact health care policies that will allow people to seek the help of a therapist when they can’t control their anger and hate on their own. It’s time we have the will to ensure that people who need help can get it, afford it, and will be judged as strong and good for seeking that help.

It’s time we stop excusing these killers as lone nuts, and start seeking real answers regarding their actions so that we can engage in real prevention. It’s time we had the courage to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

It’s time. It’s been time for a very long time.

I don’t want to see any more dead kids on my screen.

Contact your representatives. Tell them it’s time.

Control Arms campaigner David Grimason lays a photo of his son Alistair, who was killed by stray bullets in a gun fight, at the base of a mock tombstone. Control Arms coalition set up a mock graveyard next to the United Nations building in New York July 25, 2012. They are demonstrating as the negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty comes to a close on Friday. Image and caption courtesy Control Arms/ Andrew Kelly

Control Arms campaigner David Grimason lays a photo of his son Alistair, who was killed by stray bullets in a gun fight, at the base of a mock tombstone. Control Arms coalition set up a mock graveyard next to the United Nations building in New York July 25, 2012. They are demonstrating as the negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty comes to a close on Friday. Image and caption courtesy Control Arms/ Andrew Kelly

Link roundup and my letter to my Congresspeople below the fold.

From FreethoughtBlogs:

I am putting Avicenna’s post on top. If your heart isn’t already broken, I hope this breaks it.

A Million Gods: “The Right to Bear Arms.”

After he’s told us about a five year-old who will never, ever be the same, he says, “If you don’t realise that the right to not get shot is more important than the right to shoot people then nothing I say will ever make sense to you.” And this is what I will be saying to anyone who starts arguing with me about the right to bear arms, unless I choose the choice words of John Poteet instead.

Do not even think about slathering your right to shoot people bullshit all over my comments section. You have nothing to say to me today.

To all of you who might be tempted to howl, “Don’t politicize a tragedy!” – answer this question:

Brute Reason: If Not Now, When? On Politicizing Tragedy.

I’m not willing to wait a “decent interval” while children are dying, and have been for decades.

Pharyngula: Newtown Murders and Before you reach for the “it’s not guns, it’s the cray cray” argument.

Zingularity: Elementary school gunman identified, Frum makes sense on guns and Take a wild guess why Fischer & Huckabee think the shooting happened?

Greta Christina’s Blog: The Newtown Shootings: It Is Not Too Soon to Start Talking.

Butterflies and Wheels: A holy God in judgment.

Lousy Canuck: Yet another isolated incident of gun violence.

No Country for Women: Let the children live.

Ashley F. Miller: When You Tie Shootings to Mental Illness.

Mano Singham: What more is there to say?

 

Other reactions I’ve read:

Love, Joy, Feminism: Tragedies Should Be Calls to Action.

Wonkblog: Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias.

Mother Jones: A Guide to Mass Shootings in America.

David Frum on The Daily Beast: Every Day is the Day to Talk About Gun Control.

Ontario Geofish: Male depression and machine guns from vending machines.

Salon: Congress mum on “guns” in wake of shooting.

Cross-Check: Will Connecticut Massacre Give Politicians the Guts to Take on the Gun Lobby?

John Poteet (reproduced here for those without access to G+):

If you’re thinking of defending easy access to handguns today…

Shut The Fuck Up.

Just shut up. Your gun is not your dick and it won’t kill you to shut up and listen to people, parents, grandparent aunts, uncles, brother’s and sisters of schoolchildren and teachers rant and grieve for a few days. This is the product of your philosophy. This blood is on your hands.

Own it. Silently.

 

This is the letter I wrote to my Congresspeople. Feel free to steal and modify for your own purposes. Contact your Congresspeople now.

Dear [Congressperson];

Enough children have died.

Enough children going to school, or out with their families, have died. Enough adults going to work, going out to eat, going shopping, going to the movies, have died. Enough people attending political rallies have died. Enough people have died.

It’s time to have a serious conversation as to why the United States has so many more of these shootings than anyone else.

It’s time to talk seriously about gun control.

I’m sure you’re aware that in at least 2/3 of the 62 mass shootings that resulted in more than 4 deaths, the weapons used by the killers were legal. (Source: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map)

It’s time we found the political will to face down the NRA and those who refuse to believe that regulating guns will solve anything, and make it much more diffcult for raging, hateful people to access the weapons they need for murder.

It’s time we found the political will to face down the cries of socialism and enact health care policies that will enable people to seek the help of a therapist when they can’t control their anger and hate on their own. It’s time we have the will to ensure that people who need help can get it, afford it, and will be judged as strong and good for seeking that help.

It’s time we stop excusing these killers as lone nuts, and start seeking real answers regarding their actions so that we can engage in real prevention. It’s time we had the courage to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

It’s time. It’s been time for a very long time.

I don’t want to see any more dead kids on my screen. What will you do today to help ensure that America’s children are protected from gun violence?

Sincerely,

Dana Hunter

Annual U.S. Firearms Fatalities. Image courtesy Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Annual U.S. Firearms Fatalities. Image courtesy Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Tell Me Again About Our Post-Racial Society

Actually, tell it to Ashley Miller’s dad, who disowned her for dating outside her race. He apparently didn’t get the memo about racism being a thing of the past. A scene with two lovers holding hands in which there is some contrast in skin tone is, to him, so intolerable that he must cut his daughter out of his life. Of course, he’s a coward as well as a racist, so he made his wife tell his daughter that he is willing to give her up over the skin color of her beau.

Lovers holding hands. Image courtesy Tanjila Ahmed.

Lovers holding hands. Image courtesy Tanjila Ahmed.

Racism is still a reality. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. Don’t tell yourself that lie.

I hope Ashley’s father has a photo like this one.

Parent and child. Image courtesy Steve Baty.

Parent and child. Image courtesy Steve Baty.

I hope it makes him weep. I hope it will make him think, and I hope it will eventually make him come to some different conclusions.

You Voted for Death

Dear Friend Who Voted for Romney:

I’ve spent a week trying to process the fact that you voted for Mitt Romney. I still don’t know what those “conservative values” of yours are – you couldn’t tell me, and I can’t figure out what in the Republican Party platform you could agree with. I’m still hoping that you weren’t well-informed and were just voting how the people around you recommended you vote, because if you’d educated yourself on Romney’s values, lies, business practices, actions as a bishop, and history with gay classmates, and still chose him for President, then I don’t know if I ever really knew you.

But that’s not what hurt most.

The thing is, you’ve admitted you didn’t think of many things. You didn’t think of the damage Romney would do to the economy. You didn’t think of the wars we’d get in to. You didn’t think of how he’d gut FEMA, leaving people in disaster areas vulnerable to rapacious companies – if they could afford help at all. And you sure as shit didn’t think of what would happen to women of reproductive age if the Cons came back into power. You told me outright you didn’t think of me and the other women in your life when you voted for Romney.

Romney tried to backpedal on abortion, but he supports efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Romney’s Web site says this would require the Supreme Court to first overturn Roe v. Wade. Then “states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.”

Right now, women are protected by Roe vs. Wade. Yet states with Republicans in charge are currently busy stripping away as many of our abortion rights as they can get away with. With Roe gone, they’d have nothing standing in their way. Even the most extreme Republican stance – no abortion, no exceptions, not even for rape or life of the mother – could become state law.

This is the Republican dream for the nation.

And I want you to take a moment right now to picture all of the women of reproductive age that you love, and then imagine them in the world you would have made possible. Imagine them being impregnated by rape or incest, and told they had to carry that child to term. Read about the complications and risks of pregnancy, and tell me whether your “conservative values” are worth forcing them to endure this against their will. Because your “conservative values” come with that cost to women. You need to understand that.

And you need to know what the world you might have made would look like:

Savita Halappanavar died of septicaemia at University Hospital Galway a couple of weeks ago, because she had a miscarriage and the hospital refused to abort the dying fetus.

“Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

“This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, ‘this is a Catholic country’.

“She spent a further 2½ days ‘in agony’ until the foetal heartbeat stopped.”

Then she died of a raging infection, because doctors wouldn’t abort a failed pregnancy even to save her life.

Savita Halappanavar. Image courtesy Shakesville.

Savita Halappanavar. Image courtesy Shakesville.

And you might say, “But that’s Ireland!” It happens here, too. You might say, “But that’s Catholics!” This is exactly what anti-abortion zealots in this country want, too. Even in places where they, like you, would allow exceptions for “life of the mother,” they don’t much care for mothers’ lives.

They put fetal heartbeats above the heartbeats of living women.

And you voted to empower them.

You voted for a world in which women had better be damned good at being pregnant, because their life is at stake.

You voted for death.

Another time, we may discuss the fact that you also voted for financial collapse, the destruction of the middle class, and endless war, but I think this will do for now.

I love you. I will always love you. I will always be there when you need me. But with your values turning out to be so antithetical to mine, we have a lot to work through.

Sincerely,

Your Very Upset Liberal Friend

 

“She Had a Heartbeat, Too”

That is the phrase I want all of you “pro-life” people to remember: “She had a heartbeat, too.”

And now she doesn’t, because people like you placed a doomed heartbeat above her own life.

Look at the woman your morals killed.

Savita Halappanavar

Savita Halappanavar. Image courtesy Shakesville.

“She had a heartbeat, too.” Remember that. There is a life carrying that fetus you’re so concerned about. There is a human being you’re condemning to death when you tell her that the failing heartbeat of a person that will never be is more important than her own beating heart.

And if you can look me in the eye and tell me that what happened here was right and just, then I will know religion has stripped all traces of humanity and compassion from you.

Thunderf00t’s Potentially Illegal, Positively Immoral Crusade

I’m not going to say much about Thunderf00t’s plunge into probable illegality, because it’s been said better elsewhere. I’m having a difficult time thinking in anything other than expletives, and have since I discovered that little shit hacked our email list after being tossed out on his ear. I know he has a penchant for flouting copyright, but apparently, there are no depths to which he will not sink in order to satisfy a grudge. It borders on stalking. When I encounter asshats like him, my thoughts tend to trend towards words of roughly four letters. Especially when they’ve placed people I love and respect at real risk of physical harm.

In other words, it would be impossible for me to write a measured post.

Other people have managed more coherent pieces on the subject.

Ed Brayton’s statement sums up things nicely. Start here if you have no idea what’s going on.

Natalie Reed explains why what he’s done places some of us at risk of real-world harm, and why people like him drive good people out of the movement. If you read no other post, read this one.

Ashley Miller describes how his loathesome exploits have sickened those who were staying on the sidelines.

Zinnia Jones discusses the right to private spaces, free of eavesdropping asshats, and tells us about what the asshat has already done with some of the information he stole.

Stephanie Zvan describes the difference between a whistleblower and Thunderf00t. This is a useful post to bookmark for those times when folks may be tempted to view him as some sort of freedom fighter.

Jason Thibeault explains how Thunderf00t hacked our system. Combined with the fact he’s now crowing about it (no, I’m not going to link his ass: if you want to see it, either find the link in another post on FtB or Google it), this should satisfy those uber-skeptics who believe nothing without twelve dozen lines of evidence. If not, they’re a lost cause, and I will no more weep for their departure than I did Thunderf00t’s.

Greta Christina walks us through the ways egregious violations of privacy can harm folks who haven’t done a damned thing wrong.

JT has a moving post up on what it’s like when a personal hero turns out to be a complete asshole.

Jen McCreight explains why those of us at no obvious risk are outraged. Her final paragraph sums it up nicely.

Al Stefanelli takes Thunderf00t to task directly.

PZ pulls no punches (you didn’t expect him to, right?) and is curating links.

Ophelia Benson has her say.

There’s nothing much I can add to this discussion. I simply wish to make it clear that I think he’s a loathsome little shit, lest my silence be taken for indifference or approval. It doesn’t matter how angry he is that we decided he was better off our network than on. No amount of personal butthurt justifies what he’s done.

That said, I shall waste no more time over him. I have better things to do than watch an asshat dig himself deeper holes. I will be there for the people he’s placed at risk, and I will happily cooperate with law enforcement if it turns out they take an interest in his doings. I will make it clear to any and all people who wish me to attend conferences that my attendance is dependent upon his not being there. But he gets no more posts. I don’t like wasting my time with scum.

He can fuck right off.

(Before you comment: read the policy thoroughly. Keep in mind that this is not a public forum, I am in the midst of quitting smoking, I have no damned patience left, and I’m not interested in letting people split hairs and excuse his behavior in my comments section. We will not be discussing possible legal recourse, as that is a discussion to have with lawyers. If any of the foregoing has diminished your desire to comment, that’s very likely for the best. Come back for one of the happier posts.)