Yes, It’s about Heritage

More and more I’m wanting the left to engage in rhetorical judo. There are so many times when watching clips from the impeachment hearings that I just want the witnesses to verbally hip-throw the dishonest and untenable premises of the questions that they are asked.

Likewise, we’re talking again about the confederate flag and “heritage”. PZ quotes officials from the town of Wake Forest, NC (via a Washington Post article) saying

“We recognize that for some the flag represents racism, hatred and bigotry, while others see it as a representation of Southern heritage protected as a matter of freedom of speech/freedom of expression.”

Why are these officials able to frame this as a dichotomy. Don’t we have any competent journalists here? The correct response should be:

These views are not at odds. The confederate flag represents racism, hatred, and bigotry. It further and even more intensely represents violence: the violence committed against US troops simply doing their jobs, protecting the nation, who were violently attacked by traitors as well as the many civilians who were beaten and killed during slavery and Jim Crow to prevent kidnappers from being held accountable or simply to control captives.

This is a mater of history, and as our heritage is the sum of history’s effects on our present, this racism, hatred, bigotry and violence are a part of that heritage. And yes, flying a flag, any flag, is a protected act of speech in almost any circumstance you could imagine. But we, today, criticize that act with speech of our own, because as much as racism, hatred, bigotry and violence are indeed our heritage, passed down from the generations who came before, we are not satisfied passing it down again.

Absolutely this is our heritage, and that is a tragedy. We live and work for the day when these things cease being heritage and pass instead into history.

 

 

On the anniversary of École Polytechnique: Speaking of things that do not surprise

So I just wrote about the roots of École Polytechnique and how responsibility for such a crime is widely shared. But I thought I would tack on a few stories that I noticed today that I feel are particularly noticeable on this day of all days. I only have two in mind right now, but I’ll add to the list over the course of the day as I notice other stories.

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A little too on the nose: It doesn’t start with École Polytechnique

I’ve written in Pharyngula comments before about something called the Pseudocommando shooter type. These are the folks who get big rifles with rapid fire capability and carry multiple weapons and huge number of rounds of ammunition to a target location and then shoot as many people as they can. The psychological research on the type shows that serious mental illness is uncommon in such shooters, though they do show an above average rate of mild to moderate depression and a couple of other of the most common mental illnesses. Some of the research that initially characterized the type found even these mental illnesses affected only about 40% of such shooters.

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Yes, the Right to Vote

Over on Pharyngula, PZ has a post up unequivocally supporting trans* persons equality with any other human where rights are concerned. As PZ and many, many others have put it: Trans rights are human rights.

In the thread, helpfully titled, “Arguments are closed, I’m not going to argue with anyone about trans rights”, someone showed up who wanted to argue about trans rights. You’ve really got to hand it to some folks, y’know? And on the one hand, this person (so far) doesn’t seem remotely as bad as some others who have commented on Pharyngula opposing trans* persons human rights. On the other, did they even read the post title?

I mean, seriously.

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Criminalizing fighting in sport

So… there’s been quite a bit of discussion in the wild about why a recent fight between NFL players of the Cleveland Browns and players of the rival squad the Pittsburgh Steelers did not result in criminal assault charges. The fight was broadcast to at least hundreds of thousands, I would imagine, very possibly millions. There were tens of thousands physically present at the scene and able to observe what happened and testify to it. Why, then, aren’t the participants being brought up on charges? Why were they not immediately arrested by sworn police officers present at the time?

Today this discussion was referenced by Mano Singham. And while I agree that there are reasons why we as a society might choose to prosecute the participants in these assaults, there are also reasons why we might not. One of those reasons is racism.

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Utah Criminal Code Chapter 9 §702-5

This is a delightful little statute. It bans “Lewdness involving a child” within the state of Utah.

I quote:

A person is guilty of lewdness involving a child if the person under circumstances not amounting to rape of a child, object rape of a child, sodomy upon a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, or an attempt to commit any of those offenses, intentionally or knowingly:
(a) does any of the following in the presence of a child who is under 14 years of age:
(i) performs an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy;
(ii) exposes his or her genitals, the female breast below the top of the areola, the buttocks, the anus, or the pubic area:
(A) in a public place; or
(B) in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child;

…(iii and iv omitted)

I’m going to pare this down for you a bit:

A person is guilty of lewdness involving a child if the person [does not commit or attempt to commit a more serious sexual crime, but]:

(a) does any of the following in the presence of a child who is under 14 years of age:

(ii) exposes the female breast below the top of the areola

(B) in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child;

Got that? Exposing a female breast in the presence of a child, while in a private place, is a crime if anyone will “likely” feel affronted or alarmed.

Interesting little statute there. I’m sure it would never be abused by any misogynistic prosecutors in the United States. Especially not in a state as friendly as Utah, for Mormon Heaven’s sake! No, I’m sure that they would reserve it for egregious behavior like …

Tilli Buchanan, 27, … and her husband had been installing drywall in the garage and had taken off their shirts that were itchy from the fibers, she told The Salt Lake Tribune.

When her stepchildren, aged 9, 10 and 13, walked in, she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing,”

Well there was that consequential condition on the actus reus that involved some sort of distress. This doesn’t sound like quite enough to …

The charges were filed after the children’s mother told that authorities she was “alarmed”

Ah. So a mom hates her ex’s new wife enough that she got her arrested on charges of “lewdness” because she was doing the exact same thing as the ex (removing clothes itchy from drywall contamination), something that anyone might do in their own home. That makes more sense. Gotta protect the kids from seeing their step-mom’s boobies. At least the punishment should be proportionate given the wisdom of the Utah legislature and its…

If convicted, Buchanan faces imprisonment [for a maximum of 364 days – cd], fines up to $2,500 and the requirement to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

DAMN. Well, at least exposing your nipple in your own house isn’t a felo…

Lewdness involving a child is a third degree felony if at the time of the violation:

… (ii) the person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section.

So children walking in on you while your top is off in your own home is a misdemeanor the first time. The second time it happens, you can be punished

 by an indeterminate prison term of up to five years, and a fine of as much as $5,000 [oh, and by the by, they make your sex offender registration permanent].

Well. I guess that is serious. They’ll probably lose their house too, with no one out of prison to work and pay the mortgage…

Though her husband was similarly clad, he was not charged with a crime.

But… but…

Fuckit. Utah, you are fucking horrible.

 

 

 

For the Billionaires Bad at Math

As others have noted, Bill Gates had a bit of a minor freakout about Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax, admitting that he doesn’t know how much he would have to pay and seemingly begrudged having to do the math.

Well, never let it be said that Warren is not the billionaire’s friend. She has subsequently released a tax calculator for billionaires. The results are beauteous to behold.

It starts in the obvious way:

Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax calculator starts with the obvious question: Are you a billionaire?

Step one: Are you a billionaire?

Go! Now! Make up a net worth and see how much you would be taxed.

Can we just … not?

Eleven months ago that we had a wildfire cause millions of dollars of damage to an arid wilderness area in arizona, with that millions of dollars in damage representing a number of losses, including life, albeit not human life, that we can value as we wish, but is never replaceable.

Now there’s a gender reveal party in Iowa that ended a human life. And why, exactly?

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