Minority (LGBTQ Edition)

A post by Jamie

Some time ago, I overheard someone say that people shouldn’t refer to marginalized groups by calling them this or that “minority”. I didn’t catch the reason why they said this at the time. And then I found myself sitting in the theatre at a queer film festival. The film was about creative non-fiction writers telling their coming out stories, and at one point, an individual who had become a queer radio host after coming out as transgender started to talk about the word minority. She said that referring to a group of people as a minority has the effect of directly minimizing their needs as much as possible. Thus, when the first major pushes for LGBTQ equality began, heterosexuals everywhere could be heard declaring that gays and lesbians are a minority. And the inevitable declarations of “why should we?” followed. Why should we change the way we talk to protect your delicate feelings? Why should we change this law so that you aren’t thrown in prison for holding hands in public? Why should we de-classify same-sex love as a mental illness? Why should we even care? In other words, you’re a minority. You don’t matter as much as everyone else. Stop trying to inconvenience us and just get over it.

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Oooooo-klahoma where the racism’s sweepin’ down the plains

If you talk to conservatives about racism, one of their most common rhetorical positions is that liberals are “the real racists” because they (we) can’t seem to shut up about race. We’re obsessed with race – we see racism everywhere! But not conservatives. Conservatives treat everyone identically and don’t even notice race, or if they do notice it they certainly don’t let it affect their decision-making. Why, conservatives think that all of the races are born equal, and deserve equal treatment with equal opportunities for success.

It is because of this rhetorical position that conservatives are deeply offended by the idea of affirmative action programs. By giving one race an “advantage” in hiring or acceptance, liberals are discriminating against white people by saying that simply being born white makes you undeserving of a job or a placement in a school. That only non-whites should get into those jobs and schools, even if they’re not qualified, because liberals think white people are evil, or they feel guilty because some white people had slaves, like 100 years ago.

And it is from this mindset that we get stories like this: [Read more…]

SERIOUSLY?! Episode 5

We’re back with another episode of our podcast series that we’re calling “SERIOUSLY?!”. This week we talked about a post-election “riot” that happened on Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi. Roughly 400 students gathered in outrage over the election results, and some were overheard shouting racist epithets at both President Obama and black people in general. No physical violence was reported at this event, but it brought a lot of unwelcome attention to a school and a region that has a particularly fraught history when it comes to racism.

We were joined this week by Jasmine and Robert. Video and links below the fold: [Read more…]

Racism, elections, and national herpes

I don’t have herpes. This may come as a shock to those of you who think, for some reason, that I had herpes. But I don’t. I had chicken pox when I was a kid, though. I don’t remember it, but my dad says I didn’t particularly enjoy it at the time. I was rashy and irritable and generally miserable. But, like you do, I got better and didn’t have chicken pox anymore. A buddy of mine had chicken pox when he was a kid too. A few weeks ago he bailed on some plans we had. Annoyed, I asked why. He said he could barely move, he was in such pain. A trip to the doctor would reveal that my buddy had an outbreak of Shingles, which is caused by previous exposure to the chicken pox virus, a virus that never completely leaves the system.

There are a lot of theories about what causes Shingles – whether it’s just random inflammation, whether it’s the result of someone being immunocompromised due to competing surgery, or the result of the system becoming otherwise compromised by factors such as stress. What is clear though is that being infected with chicken pox means that there’s a chance that, years later, you will see a painful flareup. Other forms of herpes are like that too – all it takes is to get infected once and you’re at risk of outbreak for the rest of your life. At times of immunocompromise or great stress, you’re likely to see flareups. [Read more…]

A truly remarkable election, a truly remarkable story

So there was an election last night. Maybe you heard about it. I decided to take on a bottle of scotch and let the election results decide whether I was drinking in triumph or in bitter defeat. At it turned out, the lesser of two evils prevailed, which is good news for America and the rest of the world.

There was sincerely, non-cynically good news last night too, as Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, and Tammy Baldwin all won elections against opponents who represented the ugliest aspects of the body politic. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Richard “god’s will” Mourdock lost their races as well, as did Allen West and Joe Walsh. This is all suggestive of an America that is happy taking a step back from the precipice of insanity that is the once-fringe-now-mainstream of the Republican party. There are a lot of ugly things that happened around this election as well, but we can talk about those next week. Events have once again conspired to rob me of blogging time, but I do want to highlight an important thought.

Elections are viewed through a lens of Hollywood-style horse race struggles between two opposing ideas, where one side “wins” and the other side “loses”. The fact is that this election is, at least at an aggregate level, a preservation of the status quo of Washington politics. It is no exaggeration to point out how deeply corporatized both parties are, and we don’t have to look too far to see a laundry list of things that went almost entirely undiscussed in this election: secret and illegal wars, climate change, domestic spying, curtailment of civil liberties, housing, affirmative action programs, increasing economic inequality, deepening poverty, and the disproportionate effect the economic crisis has had and continues to have on Americans of colour are just a few examples that jump off the top of my head. [Read more…]

BDSM, Erotica, & Pseudo-Snuff: Astounding Observations of Groupthink

A post by Jamie

In July of this year, a former friend of mine who is an RCMP officer was exposed on national news as a practitioner of BDSM who had starred in his very own erotica. Unfortunately, he was also erroneously identified as the male component of a series of photos I can only reasonably describe as pseudo-snuff, which bear a chilling resemblance to the last moments on Earth faced by 49 women at the hands of serial murderer Robert Pickton — this was stated as an objective observation by journalists from two separate national media outlets, which both accused the RCMP officer of having some unspecified part in the serial murder spree (which was extended for nearly three years due to apathy and incompetence on the part of investigators in two separate jurisdictions, including his, because a marked majority of the victims were Aboriginal females engaging in sex work and illicit drug use). One of the journalists actually seems to have fabricated an even more sensational description of the photos as well. Turns out they were all duped by a single man whose hobbies include cyber-stalking, compulsive lying, and creative fiction writing in the form of letters to the media, RCMP, blog writers, and the lawyer who represented many of the grieving families of the serial murderer’s victims.

When the story first appeared in national news, I wrote a blog entry about what it was actually like to be this RCMP officer’s friend (spoiler: it’ll give any rational person at least one case of goosebumps). I criticized the photographer and models in the pseudo-snuff photos that were aired on national news, for attempting to eroticize violence against women. I also criticized the rest of the community for pretending this was not exactly what was intended when the male model took a fistful of the female model’s hair, bringing her to her knees in front of him, and held a large knife against her throat as she gazed up at him in terror. I didn’t know that my former friend was not the male model until I received a phone call that triggered a whole other past trauma (which I’ve since reported to RCMP), from the man in the photos. RCMP had found my first blog post within days, written an internal memo about it, and started monitoring my blog. They came to my home and I gave a two-and-a-half-hour statement about every detail I could summon from the depths of my memory. I took a look at the online space I used to share with this RCMP officer, which was named in the news stories, and was shocked to see hundreds of people convincing each other that there was no crime, therefore no criminal investigation. [Read more…]

Ayn Rand, and Obscurantism

People often wonder at the success of Ayn Rand’s writings, at how otherwise intelligent people get sucked in to the Randian circle-jerk. I want to take some time to deconstruct one of her essays, on “Man’s Rights”, with two purposes in mind: 1) to demonstrate that her writing is not 100% vacuous crap, and 2) to help people combat these ideas when presented ‘in the wild’, as it were.

Have a read of her essay. Come back when you’re done. Hopefully you can get through the whole thing (yes, yes, choking down that first sentence is pretty rough, and it doesn’t get any better later).

So where to begin? First, I think it’s important to remember that pure lies don’t often take hold in the way that Rand’s writing has. A lie alloyed with truth can get a lot farther than either the lie or just the truth by themselves. So… For time constraints, I’m going to gloss over the pure bullshit (defining a ‘free society’ as capitalism, for example), and focus more on the truths that are used to sweeten the lie.

[Read more…]


Hey all,

I’m happy to announce that we have finally decided on a name for our little podcast project. We’re calling it “SERIOUSLY?!”, because the subject matter we tackle tends to be things that defy the capacity for belief in all but the most out-there segments of our society.

This week’s episode is below the fold, with some associated links:

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