Korryn Gaines #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter

The following is a post by my friend and Freethought Blogs colleague Nathan Hevenstone. Nate requested that it be reposted far and wide. I am happy to oblige.

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Just when I thought I could start posting lighter stuff…

Cops shoot, kill woman barricaded with little boy wounded in Baltimore standoff (I don’t know if the video in the link shows the shooting… I can’t get it to play. I’m sorry. Be wary just in case.)

In a fit of road rage, Anthony Vigilotti pointed a handgun directly at a police officer, but was arrested later that day without incident. From his mugshot, it doesn’t even look like he received a scratch in the process.

Jed Frazier pointed his handgun directly at police, but “officers and medics took shelter and continued to make contact with Frazier. Shortly before 3 a.m. Police say they broke the windows in the truck and extricated Frazier. Frazier was treated for minor injuries before being taken to the Lawrence County Jail.”

In a quick search, I found a dozen similar stories from July alone. White men, be they mass shooters like Dylann Roof (Charleston), James Holmes (Aurora), or Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson) — or men like William Bruce Ray, Anthony Vigilotti, or Jed Frazier — all live to face a jury of their peers.

Korryn Gaines doesn’t have a violent history. She was a cosmetologist and, according to her friends and family, a doting mother. She should’ve received the treatment that all of those armed white men received. Somehow, in each of those cases, police found in their hearts to overcome their fears without unloading their guns on those men.

That’s white privilege.

It should be noted that at least 682 people have been murdered by the police this year.

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Korryn Gaines posing with her son over her back. Both look very happy.

I really want to say more. I’d like to say how enraged I am, how every time I post something like this, I do it through tears. And that is 100% true. I’m in tears now.

But so fucking what? What do my rage and my tears accomplish?

For those who are already dead, nothing.

I can support Black Lives Matter, and they are still dead.

I can post about them, and they are still dead.

I can show pictures of them being people, and they are still dead.

I can vote, and they are still dead.

I can donate money, and they are still dead.

I can talk about my white privilege, and they are still dead.

I can get out in the streets, and they are still dead.

These people, whose lives did fucking matter, at least to me, are now dead, never to see their children grow up, never to see or meet their grandchildren, or great grandchildren, never to see how there lives would progress into the future…

Because they were murdered by the damn state. Everything I try to do to make some kind of small change, to support a future where this doesn’t happen, doesn’t help the ones who are already dead.

But it can help those who are still alive, and still in danger. I can at least do something for all of you still breathing because, so far, the cops have seen fit to let you live.

God I’m sorry. It means nothing, but I’m sorry. We white people have to make it stop. Things have to change. And I’ll keep using my privilege and my platform to speak up, for those of you who are still alive, because your lives DO FUCKING MATTER. And until this country accepts that, I won’t stop saying it.

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Thank you, Nate.

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I must have been a VERY good girl.

Behold what the universe hath conspired to deliver up unto me: the skull of a ravaged squirrel.

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Okay, so technically it might not be the skull of a squirrel. How the hell would I know? I am not some kind of -ologist, people! Nevertheless, I am going to have to insist that it is indeed the skull of a squirrel, because it is just too perfect for my purposes. (Hey—conservatives make up their own facts all the fucking time. Why can’t I for once huh? HUH?)

And what might my diabolical purposes be, exactly? Well I wasn’t quite sure at first. But then I photographed it, the results of which you see above (watermarked). And I found it weirdly, oddly beautiful. Also kind of badass, you know? As in, evoking death and the transience of our mortal existence, or perhaps the face of some imagined alien being.

But of course what really, really pushes my button is that it’s a dead squirrel. Because let’s face it: the only good squirrel…is a dead squirrel. I ask you: could anything be more full of win?

Why, yes! Yes it can: its provenance.

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My Amazing Lover™ is the proud owner of a planting bed, one that sits beyond a slatted fence and just above street level. It’s full of lovely perennial plants like crocus, white tulips, pulmonaria and some waxy-leafed ground cover I gave him, extracted from the tiny yard behind my palace on Perry Street. He keeps it well weeded, watered and mulched. One day, he said there was something he wanted to show me in the planting bed. He pointed out the disembodied skull, which had a patch of gray-brown fur and some whiskers attached. “I think it’s from a squirrel,” he said.

OMG *swoon*.

The next day we discovered it had been moved, and now rested a foot or two away. The fur patch appeared to be significantly smaller, and I could no longer make out whiskers. By the following morning it had been moved once again, and picked clean by nocturnal scavengers. Circle of life, and all that.

I could not stop thinking about it, that small skull lying in the mulch. (I am super weird. FYI.) A few days passed. My Amazing Lover™ was on his way to me, and called to ask if I needed anything. “I need that squirrel skull,” I said. Like it was the most ordinary thing to ask for in the world.

“Okay.”

A few hours later, I was in possession of a clear ziploc bag containing my prized possession.

THAT’S RIGHT MY PARTNER BROUGHT ME A SKULL THAT MIGHT POSSIBLY BE FROM A SQUIRREL MAYBE.

If that is not the ultimate sign of deep and abiding love…well, I just don’t know what is.

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And because I am about nothing if not sharing the love, I plastered that skull all over a bunch of stuff at my online store, so you too can be part of the #deathtosquirrels revolution.

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Who needs pearls? You can have squirrels.

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Subversive pocket square…
for all your formalwear occasions.

Conservatives ruining everything as usual, this time in Michigan.

[CONTENT NOTE: sexual harassment, assault and rape.]

Well this is an interesting story:

The battle over Michigan State University’s women-only lounge began with a rival school’s male professor.

Mark Perry, who teaches economics at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus, had stumbled upon a news story about the 91-year-old room in MSU’s sprawling student union. “They’d written about what a great space this is for women,” Perry said. “They can go in and take a nap and not be worried about being bothered.”

So a d00d professor at a different college read about this great space for women at MSU, a place where they can relax and study without worry of being harassed by—let’s be clear here—men. And he said to himself, “Wow, I’m so glad for the women of MSU. I wonder how I can help institute the same thing here at University of Michigan?”

Hahaha. I’m just kidding.

He figured it couldn’t be legal. Banning men from a taxpayer-funded study area, Perry thought, could violate Title IX, a federal law meant to protect gender equality on college campuses. So he contacted the school. Nothing changed. He sent a complaint to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights in June, but the department would not accept it because Perry had not personally endured discrimination.

Professor Perry’s Civil Rights™ were totally being violated at a different university where he neither attended nor worked. Won’t someone think of the discrimination this man did not endure?

[Read more…]

Ahh, the distinct scent of Squirrel Person scalp.

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DEATH TO SQUIRRELS EXCLUSIVE!
unretouched congressional portrait of
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Well, well, well. If it isn’t the notorious Debbie Wasserman Squirrel, chair of the DNC, finally resigning under pressure from every angle on the eve of the party’s nominating convention.

Readers of this blog will no doubt recall her breathtaking incompetence, as well as her habit of standing with Republicans on their despicable votes on issues as diverse as the Drug War, the TPP/TTIP trade deals, private prisons and payday lenders. She has long been under heavy fire from multiple DNC Vice chairs, rank and file Democrats, the Sanders campaign and high-profile progressive groups and pundits, who accused her of deliberately orchestrating Democratic primaries to favor Clinton over Sanders and then lying about it. None of that got her fired of course, even though all of it is true. If anything, it could only have helped boost her position among her fellow conservative Democrats Squirrel People, who have long held the power center of the Democratic Party.

But then some Russian hackers got hold of the DNC’s email, and Wikileaks published them. Among the more damaging disclosures was her team trash-talking big donors. You see, if there was one thing Debbie Wasserman Schultz was exceptionally good at, it was fundraising. And, well, I’m sure you can see why that would turn out to be her Achilles heel.

Naturally, she proved as hard to get rid of as a squirrel infestation.

Two reliable sources say Wasserman Schultz was trying to make top aides take the fall, rather than take personal responsibility. Until the end, she struggled to understand what a lightning rod she’s become.

“There was a lot of drama,” a Democratic member of Congress involved in the discussions leading up to her resignation [said]. “She made this as painful as she could. She did not want to go… She wasn’t going to resign until the president called her. She put a lot of people through hell.”

Even the Clinton camp pressured her to resign, which, you know, holy shit. It finally took a phone call from President Obama—who originally installed her as head of the DNC in the first place—to get her to see that her run as DNC chair was finished.

In a statement, Obama said he was “grateful” for Wasserman Schultz’s service. “Her fundraising and organizing skills were matched only by her passion, her commitment and her warmth,” the president said.

Democratic strategist and Clinton ally Donna Brazile will be taking over as the interim chair.

Brazile, a vice chair of the convention, also was caught up in the leak. Asked for comment in an email from a Washington Post reporter about negotiations between the Sanders campaign and the DNC about the composition of the party’s convention committees, Brazile forwarded the reporter’s request to DNC officials.

“I have no intentions of touching this,” she said. “Why? Because I will cuss out the Sanders camp!”

Meanwhile, the Democrats mentioned as permanent replacements are:

former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, [Squirrel Person and former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] Rep. Steve Israel of New York and EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. All are loyal supporters and trusted allies of Clinton.

So not to worry. It’s all good now.

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UPDATE:

Usually conservatives aren’t very good at this, but I have to admit this is a fine specimen of mockery:

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Hahaha. Awesome.

Erasure and Victorian women.

I first started giving more thought to the phenomenon of erasure in 2013, after hearing talks from Susan Jacoby and Jennifer Michael Hecht at CFI’s Women in Secularism 2 conference (yes, that one). Both presentations touched on the stories and accomplishments of women being written out of narratives in favor of men’s, a well-documented and observable manifestation of male privilege. A woman’s erasure turns out to be even more likely when she is a nonbeliever or otherwise unorthodox (Christian/conservative privilege); similarly, atheist men also tend to be erased from historical narratives in favor of believers (same).

Erasure of racial, sexual and other minorities should be too obvious to need mentioning, but I will mention a few off of the top of my head*:

As with all modes of privilege, for those with intersectional identities the likelihood of erasure is compounded. And as with all modes of privilege, erasure is self-perpetuating.

[Read more…]

Thoughts on Paul Jay interview with Henry Giroux.

Paul Jay of The Real News had an interesting discussion (in two parts) with author and scholar Henry Giroux about a potential Trump presidency and its implications for democracy. In normal times, I would find Giroux laughably hyperbolic when he says, for instance, that under a Trump presidency the world is in serious danger of nuclear war, or that political dissent would be criminalized.

These are not normal times.

[Read more…]

Petition to the president to protect over 100,000 Native American sites.

Via a CREDO* Action email this morning:

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Nearly 1.9 million acres of unprotected, culturally important Native American land in Utah known as Bears Ears have been looted and vandalized for years. Artifacts have been desecrated and stolen – and human remains have even been disturbed.1

While the area is owned by the federal government, only two law enforcement officers patrol this vast swath of land.2

President Obama can easily protect these vulnerable sites by designating Bears Ears a national monument, which would provide the government the resources it needs to protect this land. With more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites at Bears Ears, the Obama Administration must take immediate action to protect Bears Ears before even more damage is done.

Tell President Obama: Designate Bears Ears a national monument.

The movement to protect Bears Ears has overwhelming support. 71% of Utah residents support the creation of a national monument,3 and more than 700 archaeologists4 and a coalition of tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Uintah & Ouray Ute, have called on the president to designate the land at Bears Ears a monument.5

However, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and other anti-conservation, right-wing extremists in Congress are using Bears Ears as their latest example of so-called “federal overreach” of public lands by the Obama Administration.6 This is the same reasoning Cliven Bundy and his extreme, gun-toting supporters have recently used to justify their armed clashes with federal authorities, and threats of an “armed insurrection” over Bears Ears have been reported.7

In the face of the destruction of sacred Native American sites and the desecration of ancient human remains, it’s unconscionable that right-wing extremists want to play politics instead of protecting such an important place.

Before any more Native American sites are destroyed at Bears Ears, the Obama Administration must act to permanently protect this sacred land from further looting and vandalism.

Tell President Obama: Designate Bears Ears a national monument.

Thanks for all you do.

References

  1. Jenny Rowland, “Bears Ears Cultural Area: The Most Vulnerable U.S. Site for Looting, Vandalism, and Grave Robbing,” Center for American Progress, June 13, 2016
  2. Bears Ears deserves national monument designation,” Washington Post, June 8, 2016
  3. Brian Maffly, “New survey finds 71 percent support Bears Ears monument in Utah,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 2016
  4. Ginger Perales, Hundreds of Archaeologists Sign on to Protect Bears Ears,” New Historian, June 20, 2016
  5. Anne Minard, “Tribes Ask President Obama to Designate Bears Ears as National Monument,” Indian Country Today, October 15, 2015
  6. Orrin Hatch, “Hatch: A Bears Ears monument would be federal overreach,” The Salt Lake Tribune, June 12, 2016
  7. Judith Eilperin, “A major Native American site is being looted. Will Obama risk armed confrontation to save it?,” Washington Post, June 5, 2016

The petition to President Obama reads:

“The nearly 1.9 million acres at Bears Ears contain over 100,000 culturally important Native American sites but are mostly unprotected and have been subject to repeated vandalism and looting. Designate Bears Ears a national monument to protect this land for good.”

I am not normally optimistic about clicktivism accomplishing much of anything, but on rare occasions it does so. And in any event it certainly cannot hurt. Please sign and share the petition.

Thank you, and have a nice day.

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*If you aren’t already a CREDO mobile customer, maybe you should be?

EXCLUSIVE interview with exciting new novelist!

Abe Drayton, my esteemed colleague here at Freethought Blogs, has just had his first book published!

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Exits and Entrances is available in paperback and Kindle formats. Here’s the blurb:

When Shakespeare wrote “All the world’s a stage . . .” nobody took it literally.

Anthony Ballrain knows that as well as anybody, but when his walk home from work takes him past a door he’s been dreaming about, he feels like it’s his cue to exit. Stepping through, he finds himself in a seemingly uninhabited world that has only a casual relationship with reality. He finally locates other people, but they’ve already met him, and what’s more, they despise him.

In a world where the impossible happens on a regular basis, Anthony is forced to confront a darker side of himself. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder for him to figure out just which side that is.

I don’t know about you, but I would totally see that movie!

Now I don’t personally really read much fiction at all. However if I did, I would definitely read this book. And do you know why? Because Abe gave me an EXCLUSIVE interview about the book that went like this:

IRIS: Is it good?

ABE: Yes.

BOOM.

Forget his editor’s opinion! (“Abe’s metaphysical fantasy takes readers on an unexpected journey that will have them questioning reality and their very existence. His masterful descriptions of alternate worlds both frighten and entertain the senses.”) Ignore the FIVE STAR Amazon review! (“Exits and Entrances offers a fascinating exploration of reality. Highly imaginative and suspenseful, this is a great book for those who love adventures.”) Whose review of this book can you possibly trust more than that of the person most intimately familiar with it? That’s right: NO ONE’S.

And if you haven’t already, check out Abe’s excellent blog Oceanoxia.

Right after you order Exits and Entrances, OBVIOUSLY.

Speak for yourself.

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Board outside of Uncorked wine shop on Christopher Street, NYC:

WHAT’S A MEAL W/OUT WINE? 

BREAKFAST.

Speak for yourself, Uncorked wine shop!

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Gotta run before my breakfast burrito gets cold – and my BREAKFAST WINE gets warm.

Rules aren’t the boss of ME.