Don’t get *too* optimistic, there

Abby Brockman strikes me is a bit too optimistic despite catching a critical detail in this scoop: The United States’ border patrol agencies are bleeding out employees faster than they can hire. However, it’s not because the employees in question are having crises of conscience--it’s because the conditions in which they work are shitty.

Trump has ordered the agency to add 5,000 agents to beef up patrols and surveillance in advance of his proposed border wall. But its current 19,000-strong force is already 2,000 shy of a target set during the Obama administration.

Officials said tough screening, especially a lie-detector test, rejected many qualified candidates, and that tough conditions such as living in remote, rugged areas prompted more than 1,000 agents to quit every year.

“Some people just don’t want to live there,” said Randolph “Tex” Alles, acting deputy commissioner of CBP, a 60,000-strong agency that includes Border Patrol. “Hiring challenges are not new. Attracting and recruiting high quality individuals is a challenge for us.”

I wish I could claim optimism and say more people are becoming aware of the imperialist functions required by a state like the USA and consider said functions morally unconscionable, but those functions typically attract the bullies and sociopaths anyways. Boredom definitely strikes me as a much likelier culprit than the sudden discovery of a moral compass.

As ever, authoritarians give us a glimpse into their mindset with delightful(?) Freudian slips: (emphasis mine)

Tony Crowder, the executive director of Air and Marine Operations, told the Guardian his agency was struggling to retain and recruit enough pilots.

Commercial airlines were luring pilots who in some cases were expected to work in remote areas and participate in arrests. “They pay more and it’s a different type of work.”

Another problem is the attitude of young people, especially those for whom 9/11 is distant history. “They have a different view of public service. I don’t want to indict an entire generation but it’s harder to sell self-sacrifice for the common good.

I would argue the reverse, Mr. Crowder. Millenials are more likely to accept that the brown people you’re abusing count as part of the “common good.” To say nothing of how the Mexicans and South Americans brutalized by your practices had sweet fuck all to do with 9/11. That my generation is less willing to blindly accept authority is in my estimate a virtue we must desperately cling to. By the time we’re your age, the coastal cities will be flooded and we’ll need to start electing politicians governments who can think farther ahead than 4 years.

-Shiv

When can we apply nature’s toothpaste?

Now? Tomorrow? Next week?

Content Notice: Sexual assault, victim blaming, misogyny.

Like many private religious schools, BYU has an honor code that requires students to live by its standards of morality. BYU’s Mormon-specific version bans alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee, as well as beards (?!). It requires students to live in sex-segregated residence halls both on and off campus and forbids “homosexual behavior” of any sort. It also forbids sex between students who aren’t married, and that’s where the trouble begins.

According to reporting that first appeared last year, BYU uses its honor code to punish rape victims. Multiple students said that they reported a rape or sexual assault, only to have the school turn around and discipline them for breaking the rule against extramarital sex. Often, it interrogated them about what they were wearing, why they were alone with a man, or if they were acting “unchastely”. One student, Madi Barney, reported the man who raped her to police and faced expulsion as a result:

“I felt re-victimized,” she said.

Madi Barney said she was troubled that the school’s Title IX investigator didn’t offer her any support when she called.

“She only said we need to talk about the honor code. It looks like you violated it,” she said.

This is the same perverse logic as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other brutal Muslim theocracies that punish rape victims on the grounds that, by reporting rape, a woman is admitting to sex outside marriage. When they were called out on this, BYU’s defense was legalistic hair-splitting:

In BYU’s statement to the Tribune, spokeswoman Carri Jenkins pointed to the school’s sexual misconduct policy: “Violations of university policy or the… Honor Code do not make a victim at fault for sexual violence… and will be addressed separately from the sexual misconduct allegation.”

Barney scoffs at the claim of separation.

“‘Separate.’ That’s the word they constantly use to justify sending victims to the Honor Code,” said Barney. “You can’t just chop up the rape into little pieces and take out the parts you want to punish people for.”

BYU’s policy intimidated many rape victims into keeping quiet, since speaking up could destroy their own future whether or not the rapist was punished. They faced expulsion from school, loss of jobs, loss of housing. Even when there was enough evidence to charge the rapist with a felony, BYU refused to relent in its hounding of victims, to the point that a Utah prosecutor asked them to stop because it was interfering with his efforts to get witnesses to testify.

I need to stop wondering how low religious authoritarians can go. It’s not doing kind things to my mental health.

-Shiv

Signal boosting: The damage of abstinence-only sex “ed”

Larisa Manescu writes about her experiences of being raised on Texas’ sex non-education curriculum:

My freshman year of high school, an abstinence speaker compared my virginity to a fragile, delicate thing, like a gift wrapped in paper. There was still hope, he said, if I had already unwrapped my present; I could always re-wrap it by giving up sex entirely. But if I didn’t, I’d probably end up with genital warts. (All roads lead to genital warts in abstinence-only programs. Somewhere buried deep in the minds of most students who grew up in these programs is a repressed memory of passing around a face-down photograph around a giggling classroom, with the occasional gasp as someone dared to flip the photograph to reveal “diseased” genitalia.)

We didn’t get many details about how, exactly, STIs were transmitted or pregnancy came about, but there was plenty of pressure to remain untouched, or else.

When I missed my period at 16, I jumped to the conclusion that maybe, somehow, my then-boyfriend’s semen was magic and could survive exposure to air. Little flying warriors, those sperm! I remember coming home from school to discover that my mother had seen my panicked online messages and was waiting for me with a pregnancy test. I remember the shameful feeling of peeing with the door open, fumbling for an explanation, trying to say it wasn’t possible…I don’t think? My poor mom must have thought I was either a liar or a fool.

Of course, the test was negative.

Read more about it here.

-Shiv

Science says…

The National Organization for Marriage decided, for reasons unfathomable to me, that YouTube comment sections are precisely the sort of thing that ought to be spray-painted onto the side of a hideous orange bus to be toured around the country in the name of Science! Gawd! Biological reality! Privacy! Safety! “free speech.” I’ve wanted to write about this for a while and honestly, the one thing I was stuck on is that NOM didn’t really… argue… anything.

Their messaging is ridiculously scattershot, the sort of rambling I’d expect from a freshman who accidentally wrote the same essay for four different classes while nibbling on marijuana brownies. It’s utter nonsense from start to finish, a manic conspiracy theory scribbled in crayon on the back of a diner napkin. So for a while I didn’t even know where to start, until I figured that my complete bafflement at whatever the fuck they were trying to say was a good way to lead as any.

Content Notice for seven degrees of transantagonistic eliminationist bullshit:

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Wait, the AFA is still continuing this nonsense?

The American Fuckwad Association wants you to know that their limp-dicked boycott of Target is approximately maybe kinda slightly 0.1% less flaccid than it was this time last year.

We are VERY close to reaching the 1.5 million signature goal on the Target boycott. Your help is critical as we approach the one-year anniversary since we launched the boycott.

At the time I send you this email, 1,484,630 people have pledged to boycott Target until it reverses its dangerous policy of allowing men into women’s restrooms and dressing rooms. You can see the very latest count here. Once we reach 1.5 million, I will personally deliver the signatures to Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.

Of course, as Zack Ford reported, their signature process is far from rigorous:

But here’s what AFA doesn’t list on its site: who signed the pledge. It’s completely anonymous. There is no way of tracking the validity of the number of signers.

In fact, ThinkProgress successfully “signed” it three different times from the same web browser using the names “I disagree With this,” “I really think this is stupid,” and “This isn’t A real email.” All that it required was using a different email address each time. As the last name suggests, it was also possible to sign the pledge using a gmail.com address that does not even exist. Thus, there’s nothing stopping anyone else from doing the same to inflate the numbers, or even for AFA to do so to generate further buzz.

As per usual, the AFA’s appeal to gather more “signatures” involves instructing cis men to act in predatory ways to somehow prove that trans women act in predatory ways. Because, hey, if you have no evidence to substantiate your beliefs, why not fucking fabricate some?

-Shiv

An open letter to Albertan parents concerned about GSAs

When I first began volunteering for LGBTQ+ social resources, one of the first rules I learned was to Never tell a dependent youth that they “need” to come out to their parents or guardians. By now, those parents concerned about Alberta’s student run Gay-Straight Alliances (alternatively Queer-Straight Alliances) are likely aware that professionals and volunteers affirming LGBTQ+ youth tend to follow this rule, and now we have a law written by the New Democratic Party setting the same as policy for school administrations. The leadership of both the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives have gone on record to disagree with this policy, stating that they think students joining the student-run GSA clubs ought to result in a notification for their parents, along with hundreds of other community organizers stepping into the conversation to concur.

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I find no problems when I investigate myself, too

I gather that some of the arguments made in favour of abolishing Alberta’s parallel-to-public Catholic education system are about costs–there’s a redundancy in management, so amalgamating the two services would find the public budget a few extra million after restructuring. And Adriana LaGrange writes a cheery “alternative reality” for the Edmonton Journal about the state of Catholic schools, arguing–among many other things–that the costs probably wouldn’t be lower if we were to amalgamate.

There are a few statements which get a good giggle from me, considering the context of the ACSTA splinter group scandals.

Compare LaGrange’s words here:

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