Lazy linking – Teen Vogue edition

Teen Vogue has a new executive editor, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, who some of you might know from her time at feministing.

I expect that Teen Vogue will continue with their great articles under Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and judging from their newest issue, this is certainly the case.

They have a great portrait of teens fighting for gun control. The portrait doesn’t just cover the Parkland teens, but also some of the many other teens fighting for it across the US.

Gun Violence Will Be Stopped By These 9 Young Activists

Teen Vogue invited gun violence survivors and gun control activists to talk about the power of the next generation: young people who are working to end mass shootings and ensure student safety once and for all. Clifton Kinnie of Ferguson, Missouri; Nick Joseph, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin, and Sarah Chadwick of Parkland, Florida; Jazmine Wildcat of Riverton, Wyoming; Kenidra Woods of St. Louis; Nza-Ari Khepra of Chicago, Illinois; and Natalie Barden of Newtown, Connecticut — youth from different backgrounds with different connections to the issue — to speak candidly about their experiences and what’s to come.

Teen Vogue also has an op-ed written by Parkland activist Emma González on Why This Generation Needs Gun Control, and an article on the NRA

There are also several other great articles, including Chris Evans Opened Up About Being an Ally for Women During the #MeToo Movement, so I expect that Teen Vogue will continue to be an important news source for a while yet.

Focus on the Family is not happy with John Oliver

John Oliver reminds us that even if we get rid of Donald Trump, there is still Mike Pence – and that is not a comfortable thought.

One of the things that John Oliver points out, is Mike Pence’s close connection to Focus on the Family. Something which of course has led Focus on the Family to respond

Social media is abuzz…concerning HBO’s John Oliver’s Sunday night attack on Vice President Mike Pence and Focus on the Family. The “satirical” late-night talk show host’s screed was not just vicious in tone, but also vulgar and vile in every sense of the word and way.

I heard some vile things in the clip, but none of them uttered by John Oliver. Rather they were said by Mike Pence and his allies.

Mr. Oliver’s rant was motivated by the release of a new book by Mrs. Karen Pence and daughter, Charlotte. Entitled Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President, the second family’s project is centered on the Pence’s pet rabbit. Illustrated by Mrs. Pence and written by Charlotte, the lighthearted work is a colorful children’s book designed to teach children about the workings of government.

So what’s so controversial about a children’s book about a bunny?

Welcome to 2018, where anything and everything is potentially politicized!

This is not just a book about a bunny, but a book intended to “teach children about the workings of government”. Such a book is inherently political in nature, thus opens up to becoming politicized. Also, the reason why this book is published, is that it is written (officially at least) by Pence’s family, trading on his political position.

Also, when one of the book tour stops happens at an extremist political organization like Focus on the Family, it is not surprising that the book release becomes politicized.

Over the years, late-night television has devolved into a breeding ground for cynical, skeptical, bitter and so-called “humor” that cuts people, attempting to both marginalize and tear down individuals and institutions with whom both hosts and often guests disagree.

Satire. It is a thing. Look it up. There is nothing new about it – it has been around since at least the ancient greeks.

This past Sunday night, John Oliver was incensed over Focus on the Family’s 40 year history of supporting a traditional and biblical sexual ethic. In particular, the host took issue with our belief that those with unwanted same-sex attraction should be free to pursue counseling, if that is their desire. Of course, millions of Christians and even non-Christians hold to this standard, but Mr. Oliver disagrees and his seething reaction to our ministry’s position was palpable.

No, John Oliver takes issue with Focus on the Family pushing gay conversion therapy, a pseudo-therapy, that doesn’t work, and is proven to have a very negative effects on people who goes through it.

Even some of the original

Only homophobes of the worst kind are still pushing gay conversion therapy. Homophobes like Focus on the Family and Mike Pence.

Focus on the Family is a hate group, and any politician associated with them have absolutely no place in modern politics, and certainly should not be the vice president.

In things that never happened

After the tragic school shooting in Parkland, there was a lot of tweets on the subject on twitter.  Of the ones I saw, most were either talking about how to stop school shootings, or amplifying the voices of those who were direcetly affected by this school shooting. And then there were the Russian bots, pushing any gun control talking points.

And then there were the rare gems like the following

 

I call this a gem, because it is such a blatant lie, that it is amazing that he thought he could get away with it.

In many European countries, including my native Denmark, there is no such thing as an armed security guard. Either you are police or military, or you are unarmed. In other European countries, there are armed guards in high risk situations, e.g. transporting money, but rarely at any other time. Again, the general rule is, that if you are armed, you are police or military.

In no European country I know off, would anyone think of placing armed guards at a school, except in very extreme situations. For example, police guards Jewish schools when there is a very high Islamic terrorist threat level.

So, the idea that anyone would think it commonplace to place armed guards at a school, regardless of the size, clearly shows that the person has no understanding on the situation in Europe – it is, in other words, a fundamentally US question.

I am not the only who has made fun of this tweet, J.K Rowling has done so as well, and David Burke has taken it down (but not acknowledged that it was a lie).

Lazy linking

A few thing I have found of interest.

SF will wipe thousands of marijuana convictions off the books

San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades.

The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits.

Proposition 64, which state voters passed in November 2016, legalized the recreational use of marijuana in California for those 21 and older and permitted the possession up to 1 ounce of cannabis. The legislation also allows those with past marijuana convictions that would have been lesser crimes — or no crime at all — under Prop. 64 to petition a court to recall or dismiss their cases.

This is an important move. A lot of people have been jailed in the past for crimes which is no longer on the books, and it is only fair that they get released.

Science behind bars: How a Turkish physicist wrote research papers in prison

Thousands of academics in Turkish universities stand accused of either having supported terrorism or the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016. Theoretical physicist Ali Kaya is one of them. He was arrested three months after the failed coup and held for more than a year before his trial took place. On 20 December, a court declared him guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization and sentenced him to six years of imprisonment — but released him early owing to the time he had already served in prison while awaiting trial. Kaya says that he is innocent and is appealing against the verdict. In the meantime, he has been suspended from his academic post, and he has yet to learn whether his university, Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, plans to fire him or to await the outcome of the appeal.

This story shows how Turkey has become a totalitarian regime, and how scientists can persevere under horrible circumstances.

Your Grandma Was a Chain Migrant!

Jennifer Mendelsohn, a freelance writer based in Baltimore, has a low tolerance for bad faith. Last summer, after Stephen Miller, the White House senior policy adviser, went on television to support a bill that would penalize immigrants who didn’t speak English, Mendelsohn took to Twitter. “Miller favors immigrants who speak English,” she began. “But the 1910 census shows his own great-grandmother couldn’t.” Her tweet, which included a photograph of a census document indicating that Miller’s ancestor spoke only Yiddish, went viral. “It’s hilarious how easy it is to find hypocrisy,” Mendelsohn said. “And I’m a scary-good sleuth.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, the spiritual mother of generations of writers; John Scalzi pays tribute

World’s oceans rise to hottest temperatures ever recorded ‘by far’

‘Long upward trend that extends back many decades does prove global warming’

Not that we really need any more evidence.

Spiritual hyperplane

How spiritualists of the 19th century forged a lasting association between higher dimensions and the occult world

Interesting bit of history.

Asshole creates safe space from dissenting voices

Showing once again that self-awareness is not the strong suit of right-wingers, a CEO has created an employment test, which will create a safe space for him, ensuring that he won’t experience people who disagree with him – all in the name of trying to show that “snowflakes” can’t expect safe spaces.

Company introduces ‘snowflake test’ to weed out ‘whiny, entitled’ millenial candidates

Of course, the CEO is a nobody, and the company doesn’t hire a lot of people, so this is just a PR stunt, trying to appeal to anti-millenials and all sorts of bigots.

Can they really be this culture-less?

This is an actual headline from Fox News insider: NYC Play Appears to Depict Assassination of Trump

The play in question is a modern adaption of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar put up by Shakespeare in the Park.

The only place the article mention’s the play’s name is when quoting Delta Airlines saying “do not condone this interpretation of Julius Caesar.”

The Delta Airline quote was stated through twitter, and whomever wrote that tweet should be fired as a craven, uncultured fool.

The Fox article heavily quotes Guy Benson, who apparently is a Fox talking head on Fox and Friends.

Benson said it is “not a subtle statement” to portray the murder of a sitting U.S. president.

“This is so incredibly in poor taste that I’m surprised they haven’t cast Kathy Griffin in the production,” he said.

If Benson, or anyone else employed by Fox, knew any culture, they would know that the play is not endorsing the murder of Julius Caesar (no matter how much he looks like Trump). That is what the whole famous funeral speech by Mark Anthony is about.

Given how fragile Benson and the other Fox employees are, I tried to find a YouTube clip of the speech that they might find acceptable, and I think I found one – here Mark Anthony is played by Charles Heston.

Or if watching Heston causes them too much pain, perhaps Marlon Brando’s version works better

Both of those movie clips are of course from productions of Julius Caesar which stay true to the classic version of the play, but it is hardly a new thing that play instructors update the settings (see e.g. Romeo + Juliet from 1996) or the location (see e.g Kurosawa’s Ran from 1985 which was based on King Lear)

Advice to government employees

Cross-posted at the Resistance blog

Slate has a article by Ian Samuel, explaining the legal situation for government employees. Samuel is a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School and a former law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia. The whole article is worth reading, but the last two paragraphs are the most important ones

Of course, asserting your legal rights and standing up to the government you work for aren’t always easy and come with substantial risks. (For one thing, a court might end up agreeing with the Trump administration that its orders were perfectly lawful.) The wise civil servant who was ready to refuse a Trump executive order would do well to talk with a lawyer beforehand. That’s why I’ve offered to represent, pro bono, any government official who refuses to execute a Trump order on the grounds that the order is illegal. A huge number of other lawyers—in particular, professors Daniel Epps (of Washington University in St. Louis) and Leah Litman (of the University of California–Irvine)—have offered their services as well, as have countless other lawyers, paralegals, law students, legal secretaries, and even (my favorite) a bartender in Cleveland.

No government program or White House command is self-executing. It takes thousands and thousands of people, distributed throughout the country, to transform an illegal order into an injustice. These loyal civil servants were there before President Trump arrived and they will mostly be there when he’s gone. Are you one of them? If so: The American system provides you with a choice. You can insist that you were just following orders. Or you can follow the law.

So, if you are a government employee who think that you have gotten an illegal order, there are resources available for you to draw upon. Please use them.

The self-purge has started

I just came across this on my twitter feed: Kara Goldin, CEO of hint water [sic], has resigned from the National Advisory Council On Innovation And Entrepreneurship (NACIE).

She explains her reasons:

I am resigning from NACIE because I believe that we now have a President that has no interest in advice, that is pursuing power as an end in and of itself and that has no intention of solving real problems or creating real opportunities for the people of this great nation. More importantly, as the leader of an innovative company that’s helping America get healthier, I feel a deep obligation to our employees, our investors and our customers to distance myself from the sexism, racism, protectionism and hate that has defined the Trump administration’s first days in office.

Hint is made up of men, women (over 50%), straight people, LGBT people, small people, large people, hispanic people, jewish/christian/muslim people, white people and black people. We are all Americans and we are proud of our country and its values.

The last thing that I want to do is have you think that I would be supporting an administration that is working against the values that I believe as an American that are the key to entrepreneurship.

Kara Goldin joined NACIE under Obama, so it is perhaps not so surprising that she would leave, but for her to state the reasons so bluntly is rather remarkable.

This, of course, follows Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, leaving Trump’s business advisory council. This decision was driven by the #DeleteUber campaign, but it demonstrates that American CEOs find the cost of being pals with Trump too high, and decide that it is not worth it.

Not everyone appears to feel that way – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is still part of the business advisory council. A lot of people believe that this might have something to do with the nearly $5 billion dollars his companies get in in government subsidies. I am not a great fan of Musk for a number of reasons, but until now, I believed he held some principles. This doesn’t appear to be the case. I hope that this will have consequences for him and his businesses. I know for certain that I will remember to bring up his ties to Trump, every time people are mindlessly repeating his claims in the future.

Going back to the people leaving the different councils – I think we will see many people do that in the coming weeks. Most will probably do it fairly quietly, but some will feel the need to clearly distance themselves from Trump.

On the tactics on punching Nazis

I am a bit late to the party, but I thought that I’d comment a bit on Richard Spencer getting punched in front of TV cameras

A lot of debate has been going since then, about whether it was acceptable to do so, and if, whether it was good tactics to do so in front of cameras.

Well, legally, it is clearly not acceptable, since it is assault. Morally, on the other hand, I personally don’t have a problem with someone literately advocating genocide and/or promoting an ideology which is based upon genocide getting punched. Some people tries to make the slippery slope argument, asking when it is OK and when it is not, implying that next step will be to punch granny because she voted for Trump. Well, no – the line is clear – if you directly promotes either genocide or an ideology based upon genocide, then it is acceptable. It might be acceptable to punch other groups, based on other clear criteria, but it doesn’t mean that anyone remotely related to the first group get punched.

And it is not like people hasn’t tried to debate Richard Spencer before.

On the tactics parts.

Some people think it might be a bad idea to punch Spencer in front of the TV cameras, as it allows him to play martyr, and others to claim that the left is just as bad as the right. I will concede that there is some truth to that concern, but I still think it is a good idea. Nazis and other white supremacists won’t go away if you play nice with them – maybe they will on an individual level, but not as a group/movement.

Every time someone has gotten rid of Nazis, it has required people to stand up to them physically.

Why should we believe that this is any different? Especially when they’ve got direct influence on the White House, and backing by senior members of the Trump staff?

No, the only way to get them to stop promoting their hate, is to show them that they are not accepted – this can be done through demonstrations, but it can also be done by the means of punching them, when a TV channel gives them a platform.

Or as I stated on Twitter, just after it happened:

So, in other words, I find the tactics of punching Nazis in front of camera effective in the sense that it will make the Nazis crawl back into the shadows, and stop them spreading their ideology. Given this, it could be argued that it is actually more effective tactics to punch Spencer in front on rolling cameras than away from the camera.