The Threats to Free Speech are From Right Wingers, Not From Trans* Advocacy

Trans* advocates do not advocate any new type of restriction on speech. They do sometimes argue that restrictions that already exist on speech when that speech targets specific types of groups should also apply when such speech targets trans* folks. This is not in any way stretching what limitation on the rights of free expression the constitutions of Canada or the US (or any other country) will tolerate. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t serious threats to free expression in the US and Canada today.

I’ve written previously about how changing “loser pays” presumptions in defamation lawsuits can impact the related freedoms of the press and personal expression (though focussing primarily on the impacts on press freedoms). But compromises around such details as when the plaintiff has to pay a press outlet’s legal costs aren’t the only constitutionally permissible actions that the governments of the US or Canada might take that would have an impact on free speech, and there are even other, likely impermissible actions that the government might still try to take.

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For Your Enjoyment: Laura Lemay Learns Lessons

All this talk about incels’ potential for violence has led Laura Lemay to reflect on some life lessons:

Now that’s someone with whom I’d like to share a cup of tea.

Fascist Policing: Cops Have Lost The Morel High Ground

PINAC recently posted a story about entirely routine police abuse of authority:

“We let them in and as soon as the police officer walked in he asked us why we were eating mushrooms and posting about it online,” the man posted.

…John Garrison of Darlington, Maryland said he tried to explain to the cop Morel mushrooms are a “native choice edible mushroom similar to truffles.” “He wasn’t convinced,” Garrison recalled ….

“I figured a police officer would know what illegal drugs look like.”

Eventually, a second cop showed up and Garrison showed her the Morels he’d dug from the trash and she immediately identified it as a Morel. [Capitalization of “morel” in the original – cd]

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Satire Begins When Truth Fails

Simply stating truth is oftentimes insufficient. Thus rhetoric generally, but also satire specifically. Mano has a post up about the attention received by an Onion piece detailing the fictional account of an Israeli soldier killing an 8-month old, then telling his story to his fellow troopers, then being nominated for a medal. It is uncomfortably like the practice of US militarized police who appear to grant themselves medals every time they shoot someone, but it also reminded me of something I wrote about 4 years ago that happened to scare anteprepro because it didn’t come with sarcasm tags. It was in response to this post by PZ, where he critiqued Sam Harris’ defense of Israeli violence against the unarmed.

My comment, which strongly mirrors certain aspects of the Onion article as well as (intentionally) the arguments of the IDF’s apologists, begins by twice quoting Sam Harris’ opinions on the tactics of the IDF and the consequences of its conflicts. Here is the content of that shockingly-too-close-to-standard-Israeli-rhetoric satire:

there’s probably little question over the course of fighting multiple wars that the Israelis have done things that amount to war crimes.

I disagree.

They have been brutalized by this process—that is, made brutal by it. But that is largely the due to the character of their enemies.

Finally! Someone who understands the nature of war! It brutalizes the poor colonial powers through the uncivilized use of violence by the natives. If only the Palestinians would use civilized violence, the Israelis could adopt a much healthier attitude towards killing them and spare many, many Israelis the deep anguish of shooting innocent people and blowing up children on beaches. Israelis would love to only kill the guilty, and that they are forced to kill the innocent by the twisted tactics of the Palestinians use, that they are made brutes by the Palestinians (but not as brutish as the Palestinians, that would be ridiculous) is just another way that the devious Arabs of the region victimize Israelis specifically and Jews generally.

If only someone, somewhere could find it in their hearts to sympathize with the Israeli political and military leadership…

The truth is that there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal.

And this is the crux of the issue. That thing about war crimes that everyone keeps harping on about? **You can’t hold Israel accountable**. War crimes, by definition, are things that can only be justified in the exigencies of war, so if you’re fighting in a war it’s okay. Especially if the other side is E-ville! That’s why they’re called “war/crimes”. It’s either war, or it’s a crime. For Israel, it’s war, therefore anything at all is justified. Easy-peasy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not excusing Palestinian action. **THEY** aren’t engaged in war. The very fact that they have committed crimes proves them terrorists, therefore not warriors, therefore they aren’t fighting a war, therefore those are crimes.

Is Sam Harris some kind of a genius? Why can’t everybody figure this out?

But PZ is clearly not a genius. His analysis of this section?

Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done.

Goes off on killing Catholics for whatever reason. You really have to figure out that these are 2 separate sections to fairly analyze them.

1. Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars.

2. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done.

You see, #1 proves the great moral courage of Israeli political and military leadership, as they could, at a moment’s notice, complete a more thorough genocide then the Nazis inflicted upon European Jews and queers and Gypsies and such. With zero consequences to hold them back save their own principles, we see the greatness of the state of Israel.

#2 proves once again, the immoral, anti-semitic vindictiveness of the Palestinians and too much of the outside world. Dammit, Israel faces massive international consequences from any bullet’s ricochet! It’s so unfair that every time a mortar is 20 yards off target there’s talk of international trade sanctions that have the power to destroy Israel’s economy, leaving her defenseless. This horrendously disproportionate response to every single one of Israel’s missteps, this threat to the life of every single Israeli Jew every time one of their informants names the wrong house!, is a threat so dire that no other nation has had to face its like. This proves the vileness of the Palestinians and their allies, rendering the entirely voluntary restraint of Israeli military and political leadership that much more noble!

Get it together, PZ. This is not about Israel being less bad than it could be. This is about the complete absence of any realistic or even drastically improbable negative consequences for evil proving Israel isn’t less bad, it’s morally awesome!
And it’s about the horrendously disproportionate consequences for every single, random, little child blown up, even when that child is holding a stick and looking off over the oceans…exactly where vulnerable Israeli warships are waiting for targeting orders! Worse, it’s about the undue scrutiny, such that where other countries can blow up 12 or 20 kids and only catch any hell (not even disproportionate hell!) for 2 or 3, Israel is criticized for blowing up kids **every single time they blow up kids**!!!!!

This malevolent, Sauron-like obsession with looking over the shoulder of every Israeli in harm’s way, combined with the unfathomable need for inflicting vastly disproportionate harms, such as talking in front of the UN about imposing trade sanctions until we comply with international law or filming a media story, well, it doesn’t make Israel more moral, becomes Israel is entirely moral for acting with restraint when it faces no negative consequences, but it does highlight the evil of the other side, making Israel more, like, functionally moral by comparison!

There is something about satire that has the power to convey important critique much more effectively than a dispassionate recitation of fact or even opinion. I don’t know what is going to come of the recently renewed attention to the IDF’s tactics, but I don’t currently have any concerns that the real-world consequences are going to include harm to Israel, so it’s all likely to be neutral or positive from my perspective.

Although i strongly urge you to read Mano’s post in full, now that you’ve read that satire, see if you can spot similarities to this weeks comments by Netanyahu and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, as quoted by Mano who got it from Jeremy Scahill at The Intercept. First, Netanyahu:

On May 14, Israeli snipers and other forces gunned down more than 60 Palestinians, and wounded thousands of others, including civilians, journalists, and paramedics. “You try nonlethal means and they don’t work,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “So you’re left with bad choices. It’s a bad deal. You know, you try and you go for below the knee, and sometimes it doesn’t work, and unfortunately these things are avoidable.”

Now, examine the words and actions of Haley:

On Tuesday, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley brought plenty of blame to pass around at the Security Council for the deaths of unarmed Palestinians. She blamed Iran. She blamed Hamas. She blamed the Palestinians who protested. But Nikki Haley placed no blame on Israel. “This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake — Hamas is pleased with the results,” she said. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

After Nikki Haley blamed the Palestinians for murdering themselves with Israeli snipers, she wouldn’t even listen to the Palestinian delegation at the U.N. She walked out when they began speaking

Scahill is responsible for the characterizations of remarks outside the quotes and obviously unsympathetic to the apologists for the IDF’s actions, but Netanyahu and Haley almost perfectly follow the logic of my satire.

It is, I believe, entirely insufficient to simply state “killing protestors is immoral, and Israel killed 60.” While many possible responses are reasonable and sufficient – non-Palestinians could stand between the IDF and the protestors, for instance – for some who are far away, the rhetorical force of satire is the natural next step when simple truth-telling fails.

Since Rosa Parks Wasn’t Rosa Parks, Who Was? Irene Bad-Ass Morgan, That’s Who

Over on Pharyngula, a discussion has been started about the propriety of using “accomplice” as a better word to describe the people that we have sometimes described as “allies” when discussing people that are not targeted by a specific form of oppression but nonetheless choose to work against it.

I started to write a comment over there about why I believe accomplice is appropriate, but it ended up becoming a treatise*1 about a woman named Irene Morgan*2. I decided that the thread shouldn’t be cluttered by a comment quite as long as I was writing, but that Morgan deserved better than cutting that treatise short. So I’ve moved it to Pervert Justice as a post for your reading pleasure.

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Don’t Learn About Jasmine Saavedra’s Victim

So some folks in my off-line life have asked me if I’ve watched Jasmine Saavedra’s BRAVE HERO video. I have not. And I’m asking you not to watch it either.

If you’re not aware of this, Saavedra was at a Denny’s, just eating it seems, when someone she decided was trans needed to use the WC. RawStory picks things up from there:

she walked up to the bathroom and claimed that she couldn’t use the ladies room because it was occupied.

“So, that guy is violating my right to use the ladies room here, and he’s saying he’s a lady! Stupid guy,” she said.

Entering the bathroom and filming the scene with her cell phone using a selfie-stick, Saavedra screamed at the woman occupying a stall with the door closed, telling her, “You’re invading my privacy.”

This is terrible behavior. But worse is yet to come:

As the transgender woman walked out the bathroom Saavedra pointed the camera in her face. “Next time use the men’s rooms or nobody rooms,” Saavedra said.

Is that terrible? Yes it is. You know what’s worse? Posting that video on the internet to humiliate an innocent trans person who happens to metabolize food and excrete various biological waste products.

But it gets WORSE.

Saavedra is a primary candidate for the Republican nomination for the US House of Representatives, and this video is intended to humiliate a trans person in order to show off the Brave Heroism of Saavedra to get fucking votes. That’s right, this trans person is being unwillingly used as a campaign prop by Saavedra.

I am all for exposing this completely shitty behavior by Saavedra, but this STILL gets worse. RawStory, who one might think would know better as they tend to lean left, titled their story on this:

WATCH: California GOP candidate stalks and harasses trans woman attempting to use Denny’s ladies’ room

and then included the full video embedded at the bottom of their story.

NO. If a non-public figure is being humiliated publicly by a video, the one thing you don’t do is share the video further. You’re a journalist and have to watch the video in order to do your job writing an accurate story, maybe. Just maybe. Do you really trust yourself to represent that humiliated trans person well? Does the trans community trust you? If the answer to either is no, then writing this story isn’t your job, and don’t bother watching the video. But there will be a few for whom it really is required. I get that. This isn’t directed at you.

For everyone else, including RawStory, when someone doesn’t want to be a public spectacle and someone else selfishly tries to turn that person into one, the barest minimum you can do is NOT WATCH THE FUCKING VIDEO. My friends can’t unwatch the video, but maybe some of you can stop yourselves, and think twice about watching anything similar.

Kevin Jackson Fails History

On Fox News yesterday, host Laura Ingraham brought on two Black guests to respond to Spike Lee’s strong statements attacking Trump as Racist. Media Matters has the video, and a transcript of a small slice of what was said. What they found remarkable was Kevin Jackson’s statement to Leo Terrell, Ingraham’s other guest, that

the Three-Fifths Compromise was essentially what this particular gentleman doesn’t understand was it was to give humanhood to black people. Spike Lee learned that and it was an embarassment to him.

It’s no surprise to any readers here that he’s wrong. But here’s the thing. Quite a number of people don’t understand the 3/5th compromise. Quite a number of you reading this, I’m sure, don’t understand the Three-Fifths Compromise, if by “number” we include “one or possibly two out of both my readers”. One and two are both numbers, right? Okay then. That out of the way, let’s take a look at why Jackson is wrong.

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Hurricane Harvey & The New Normal

There’s a new study up which does something that I hadn’t realized atmospheric physicists had not yet accomplished: equate the energy deposited over land by a hurricane with the energy removed from the ocean by that same hurricane. It seems that one of the reasons that hadn’t yet been done is the need for relatively calm seas in order to get sufficiently accurate measurements of the oceanic heat energy transferred.

That’s always going to be easier in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico than in the open Atlantic, so there aren’t as many storms to try this on as one might think.

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