Why Lynch Mob is Overused … and Underused

Content note for All The Racism, including graphic photos; witch hunt links contain All The Sexism.

A while back I wrote on Pharyngula about losing my patience with the phrase “witch hunt”. Witch hunts were real things, actively targeting real people for death. They weren’t “partisan”. They didn’t seek actual lawbreakers out in both Massachusetts and the Carolinas, but more aggressively sought out Republican lawbreakers in Massachusetts and more aggressively sought out Democratic lawbreakers in South Carolina. They didn’t take actual evidence and hype it more than it deserved: actual evidence did not exist. What was used as evidence came solely from the prosecutorial imagination.

Worse, witch hunts still take place today, and Christian denominations still encourage them.*1 While I don’t know of any recent witch hunts in the US or Canada, I’m more than happy to condemn this trivializing use of “witch hunt”.

All of which to say that I have been even more offended for even longer at hearing the misuse of “lynch,” “lynching” and “lynch mob”.

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When do we take them at their word?

 

Sean Spicer:

I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Ashad [sic] is doing … there was not in the — he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that, but I’m saying in that the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought, the use of it,

Steve King:

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

Emphasis mine.

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Fascist Governance: Multi-state Edition

ALEC is a long-condemned organization whose mission is to share regressive and theocratic legislative ideas between states. They have long advocated heightened criminal penalties for behaviors with relatively low social cost, or, in cases of public political expression, with actual social value.

I don’t know to what extent ALEC has been working on issues of shutting down protest and public expression, but it seems to me that the “leadership” of Trump is making ALEC less and less necessary. There is a zeitgeist, and that geist is haunting the Ebenezers in our state governments. There’s no turkey dinner for the cripples at the end of this story, however. The state legislators want to control us, every one.

While there are other topics I could discuss in terms of state legislative trends, I want to particularly call out this growing need to control speech through punitive legislation, through denial of remedy, and, yes, through simply killing protestors.

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This is What Fascist Policing Looks Like: San Diego.

What is the difference between a Steven Soderbergh who creates art including violent imagery and men locked away for an entire string of actual murders?

I’ve been reading about Brandon Duncan’s and Aaron Harvey’s lawsuit against the fascist policing of San Diego and the fascist police RUDY CASTRO and SCOTT HENDERSON: I’m having trouble figuring it out. Soderbergh has sometimes lived in San Diego. He’s definitely created depictions of violence there. Duncan and Harvey have lived most of their lives in San Diego. Duncan has certainly created depictions of violence there. Soderbergh, however, is not suing San Diego and the very, very clever cops Castro & Henderson for violations of federally guaranteed civil rights.

While Duncan, AKA (when performing rap) Tiny Doo and Harvey don’t mention Soderbergh in the complaint filed with the federal district court for the Southern District of California*1, it’s hard to escape the obvious conclusion. Brandon Duncan grew up in a gang-plagued area of San Diego with Aaron Harvey and other friends. Unlike many people with more money and more privilege, Duncan stayed in the same area as an adult. Neither Duncan nor Harvey were gang members in any sense, but they did know some some members of the Lincoln Park Blood gang (“LPK”). These men were people who grew up near Duncan and Harvey, and apparently they remained on friendly enough terms that cell-phone photos were taken of some of these LPK members and Duncan, Harvey or both in the same frame.

What did the photos show? They weren’t mowing down targets at a gun range. They weren’t smuggling drugs across the border. They weren’t, y’know, committing some horrible crime like waterboarding someone or something. Instead, they were merely chillaxing, or other such moderate behaviors as I am told one’s homies, on occasion, will tend to do with one.

But this did not fool the police.

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On the Corner: The Birth of Intersectionality

Intersectionality as we know it today was given life by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor and social theorist. In the talk that brought the metaphor of the intersection into public discussion, she first noted:*1

in race discrimination cases, discrimination tends to be viewed in terms of sex- or class-privileged Blacks; in sex discrimination cases, the focus is on race- and class-privileged women.

She then explained some of the consequences of this:

This focus on the most privileged group members marginalizes those who are multiply-burdened and obscures claims that cannot be understood as resulting from discrete sources of discrimination. I suggest further that this focus on otherwise-privileged group members creates a distorted analysis of racism and sexism because the operative conceptions of race and sex become grounded in experiences that actually represent only a subset of a much more complex phenomenon

But why not simply include Black voices in feminism and women’s voices in anti-racism and call it good? For Crenshaw, it was because the effects of multiple oppressions are not merely linear increases, not merely additive.

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