A Poetic Dawkins Archive

Every once in a while I remember something I wrote a long time ago as I’m trying to craft something new. I often wish that I could go back and grab that old thing to help me craft the new thing. The delightful bit is that the internet plus a bit of google fu makes it possible to grab that old thing without remembering the whole. Just remember a few key words and go searching.

Well, this morning that happened, and when I went back to grab the old thing, I accidentally found something else, something I doubt it would have occurred to me ever to look for, but being in the thread & searching for my ‘nym, I was intrigued to find a poem. I don’t write many poems anymore. So I gave it a read, and found it held up remarkably well.

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Bias does not exist, bring on the sportsball!

So you’re presumably familiar with Sha’Carri Richardson who will miss the Olympics. What I did not know is that the test she “failed” is notoriously inaccurate. We can say what we want about banning marijuana and not gewurztraminer (and I’ve said plenty this week), but this thing looks a whole lot worse when we find out the test isn’t even accurate:

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Critical Race Theory: Questions, Answers, Feelings, and more Questions

A few weeks ago Marcus Ranum asked me via a secret backchannel communication conduit (read: email) if I wanted to tag team some CRT education here on FtB. I said sure, but then quickly hit writers’ block. (And also didn’t keep up with the email. Sorry, Marcus! It’s all me, you did nothing wrong!). The biggest reason I’ll get to at the end, but it hugely contributed to the block. My second biggest problem, though, would have been enough on its own even without the biggest: There’s so much to write about! And although I might possibly be the only blogger on this network who has actually studied this stuff in the law school classrooms where it was meant to be taught, that doesn’t mean I’m an expert. Far from it.

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An Open Letter To My Wonkette Friends Who Are Busy Not Commenting

Okay, I saw the thing about Marcotte and Imma let you finish, but before I do, I’m gonna tell you a story that I told you before but what you did not seem to listen. If you did not see that, it’s about Marcotte using her angry voice about Democrats not doing shit and about other people using their angry voice to tell Marcotte how wrong she is to get angry about Democrats not doing shit.

In the 90s during my wild, Riot Grrl days when I was pro peace, pro titties, anti fascist and committed to a positive revolution of love and generosity (so, like today, but prettier & under 25), I was part of the Lesbian Avengers. We marched. We ate fire. We paired up, fucked each other for a week, then broke up & fucked someone else in the group. It was a whole thing.

Well, at the time there was that first out lesbian in the Oregon state legislature Gail Shibley (I still have her campaign button “Girlfriends for Gail!” on a dresser about 10 feet from me as I type) making waves. (The first out bisexual legislator, an obscure 1990s local politician named “Kate Brown” came out just after Gail, but this story is not about her.)

But things were not all puppies & kittens & oral sex & queer women writing your laws for you. There were also asshats, and they were, frankly, greater in number at the time. The hub of all asshat anti puppies/kittens/oral sex activity was the Oregon Citizens Alliance, but there were others, too. Some of them even in the legislature.

Well, artificial insemination hadn’t been invented that long before and the laws around it were still … interesting (as, frankly, they probably are today). One law that was important at the time said that any child of a legal wife was also the legal responsibility of the husband unless & until evidence came to light that it was not his child. Because of this legal “rebuttable presumption” dads might sometimes have to pay child support for a kid that wasn’t theirs after a divorce, but the law was clear that the interest of the child who had no choice to be born was more important than the interest of a man who at least had the choice of whom he wanted to trust in legal marriage.

But what about test tube babies? It’s obvious that at least sometimes artificial insemination would be used to get around male infertility, so what would it mean if a court found that there was no genetic relationship between a birthmother’s husband and her child? Would that really mean that a guy who supported artificial insemination shouldn’t pay to support the child he nontraditionally helped to create?

The solution in Oregon law was neither to abandon the rebuttable presumption standard which still had its uses nor to require support for all child conceived through ART. Instead the law required that a doctor providing services to a married woman seeking ART help in conceiving a child had to solicit and receive written consent from both the patient and the legal husband. In this way the courts could later feel comfortable imposing child support obligations on future divorcee dads.

But OCA fan, state legislator, and full time asswanker Kevin Mannix ignored the history and context of Won’t Somebody Think of The Children, and instead framed the issue this way:

Married women have to get permission from their husbands before receiving ART services, but single women (read: lesbians) don’t have to ask anybody (read: any man).*

So in keeping with the Republican philosophy of freedom for all, he proposed a law that would require a single woman seeking ART to petition the state for permission before services could begin.

Gail Shibley was having none of it. She went around to everyone she could & tried to kill this stupid bill but the men dominating the Oregon legs were having none of it. Mannix’s bill was going to get its committee hearing and serious consideration and might even become law.

Now Shibley was a privileged lawyer working inside the system. She trusted the Oregon lege to do the right thing, yet there was this obviously badstupid bill that was just embarrassingly sexist as fuck, and no one was listening to her. They were yelling “SHIBLEY IS BIASSS” throughout the statehouse because as a lesbian how could she objectively consider the reasonableness of the state telling women they have no sexual freedom? And not just Republicans, but Democrats, too. She was a total insider, except for that “woman who prefers her oral sex sans penis” thing, and yet she suddenly found herself with no credibility to engage her fellow legislators when she needed it most. As Shibley put it at the time,

They thought I was the far left fringe*

Well, the Lesbian Avengers were ready to do something about that. We gathered in secret at our regularly scheduled, publicly advertised Tuesday night meeting at the bookstore and put it to a vote:

Shall we show those fuckers who owns the “Far Left Fringe” title in this state?**

Answer: We shall! So we organized the fuck out of a protest & went to the statehouse screaming,

2 4 6 8 It’s all right to inseminate
1 3 5 7 FUCK YOU AND YOUR BILL, KEVIN!**

My housemate’s infant daughter was alternately in the stroller & hugging some lesbo’s breast throughout. We were allowed to march around the grounds a little (save little tyke, who was pushed or carried the whole time, the slacker) and then asked to leave, which we did.

But, AND HERE’S THE POINT:

A week or two later the story was out that the bill had been tabled in committee, would not get a hearing & would not become law. Gail Shibley herself told local reporters that no one had been listening to her before the Avengers protest, but after the protest other legislators came to her & told her that they were sorry for treating her like the lunatic fringe, that now that the Lesbian Avengers stormed the capital (legally! politely, even, so long as you weren’t a common Kevin Mannix! With no gallows or guillotine in evidence!) they knew who the lunatic fringe really was and it was not Gail, so they were now willing to listen.

Okay, ready for the big finish?
In the end what defeated Republican asshats wasn’t patient exploitation of the process and using a reasonable voice while paying attention to the context. AND it wasn’t a 7 month old sleeping through angry queer women screaming “FUCK YOU AND YOUR BILL, KEVIN!” It was, and your mind may be blown here, it was both of them together.

Screaming our lesbo chants wouldn’t have worked without someone on the inside making arguments on the inside that the legislative insiders could understand and respect. But making those reasoned arguments wasn’t going anywhere without radical outsiders demanding action.

IT TAKES BOTH, MOTHERWONKERS.

Please can we stop it with the anti Marcotte hatred and hatred for other people who commit other sins like demanding action and being tired of using “hate” as a noun?

And can we please stop it with the the hatred of people who prefer to act nicely middle class and pale and reasoned and logical and contextual and historical and all tolerant of the confident insider patience that appears to people suffering to be indifference to that suffering?

Yes, choosing one tactic over the other is fine. Yes, you can advocate for your preferred tactics over some other tactics. But in the end, my screaming at La Migra’s swat team snatching people off the street with my snatch juice stained lips is neither more nor less necessary than Chuck Schumer’s brunch with some Republican hack.

Argue passionately for what you think will make this world a better place. I certainly do. But don’t ever lose sight of the fact that in this world of very different people, your tactics aren’t the best tactics for every single advocate with different skills or a different audience, and even if they were the very bestest of best tactics you would still need someone wild and crazy like me to make your reason seem all that much more reasonable by contrast. And I will still need the insider to patiently work through the issues of centrist waffletwats.

We absolutely fucking require both Lesbian Avengers and Gail Shibleys in this world if we’re going to drag it kicking & screaming into a better place.

Please, denizens of Wonkette, please: disagree if you like, but never lose sight of the fact that we need each other, and we’re all doing the best we goddamned can.

==========================================
*may be a paraphrase, it’s been 25 years for fuck’s sake

**definitely not a paraphrase. We fucking OWNED left wing crazy in the 1990s, and I will never forget that chant. (Nor will I forget the Christmas Carol we wrote for our lesbian caroling action, “Betsy the bi gal”. That song rocked.)

From Minneapolis to Salem, from 2021 to 1992: An unsettled, unsettling journey

Now THIS is an unpleasant shock. From the Minneapolis StarTribune:

The FBI arrested three more men Friday in connection with the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, two in Minnesota and one in Iowa.

Brian Christopher Mock of Minneapolis was charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds without authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted place; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, and acts of physical violence on Capitol grounds.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m more or less from Oregon. Certainly I’m more from Oregon than I could be said to be from anyplace else, even Los Angeles, where I was born. I moved away from LA when I was 10 months old (ask me about my experience driving the U Haul, it was hellish without power steering) and landed in Oregon when I was 4. From then on, I grew up in a relentlessly white section of that relentlessly white state about 20 miles from Portland. Not much farther from Portland is the state capital, Salem. I’ve been there many times, both because I’ve had friends live in the area and because of activism I’ve done. This article brings up something that happened in Salem 38 years and 8 months ago that everyone should learn or remember.

In 1992, the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance, a theocratic group originally known for misogynistic attacks on women’s reproductive rights (most obviously in an anti abortion ballot measure which was their first success in placing new state laws before voters) had become better known for hating queers.

For that year’s election they had drafted a ballot measure and collected sufficient signatures to put it on the ballot so that if passed it would be illegal for the state to spend money in any way and on any person’s salary if doing so would contribute to portraying queerness as anything other than “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse”. Conflict was ramping up like crazy around the state. Many people who hadn’t been out, came out that year. Others who had been out retreated to the closet.

This was a defining year for me as I, too, came out of the closet in 1992, and immediately began engaging in activism to fight the OCA. Anxiety was high for queers, but it was also high for the bigots. While in Colorado Amendment 1 was written to have a similar legal effect, it was written in dry prose, without the phrase “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse”. In Colorado the fight was mostly about whether or not the state should “support” queers. (which I guess just means should allow queers to use state services without discrimination?) Amendment 1 passed. In Oregon the hostile language became a reason for moderates to oppose the OCA and their Measure 9. With so much attention focussed on not the legislative effect but the apparent ill will communicated by the OCA’s language, a huge number of people were feeling reflected hostility. While in the past their bigotry would go unchallenged as simply “normal”, now anti queer hatred was (modestly) condemned.

The turn of events shocked the bigots, what with how other people were questioning the morals of the bigots as much as (sometimes more than!) people were questioning the morals of people who liked boobies or occasionally gave a blowjob to someone they loved. Anxiety and anger among the bigots rose as well.

Over the course of that summer, 39 years ago, some young skinheads (ages 19 to 22) living in Salem were engaging in a long running campaign of harassment against two queer roommates a couple doors away. The roommates were one black lesbian in her twenties with a Jewish surname and one white gay man in his early 40s. Perhaps because it was a single theme that allowed them to condemn both roommates at once, their friends made it clear that insults targeting sexual orientation were at the heart of this campaign of harassment. But racism and antisemitism were present too, as you could expect from a group of racist skinhead asshats.

One day in late September, well into the campaign season, there was a physical confrontation between houseguests of the two queers and the racists, heterosexist jackholes. We’re not sure of the details of the confrontation, but the houseguests felt that they were sticking up for their hosts when they heard the skinheads being racist, as racists will do, and the racists felt that the houseguests had invaded their apartment and attacked them (and, hell, maybe they did).

In any case, after a confrontation over racism in the context of this ongoing campaign of heterosexist harassment, the racist, heterosexist bigots decided that the right way to reclaim their power was to fill bottles with gasoline, stuff the ends with rags, light them on fire, and throw these Molotov cocktails into the apartment of the hosts & houseguests.

Because of the layout of the apartment, the houseguests made it out. The hosts burned to death.

The hosts’ names were Hattie Mae Cohen & Brian Mock. They were clear victims of a campaign of racist, heterosexist terror for months and became martyrs to hatred’s white, Oregonian avatars.

While Measure 9 consistently polled badly, the margins were never huge, and there was a great deal of concern that some people would not want to admit to supporting a measure that had become associated with bigotry, but would happily vote yes in a private voting booth. Every queer I knew was tense right up to the day after the election.

I am acutely aware that the coverage of the murders of Cohen & Mock may very well have tipped the vote decisively against Measure 9. My freedom and my employment may have been affected by their deaths. For that reason, I consider it a duty to remember them, and I have ever since. I’ve never forgotten their names, nor am I ever likely too.

That’s why it was so shocking to see the name Brian Christopher Mock in a news story as a man arrested for acting out bigotry and hatred and paranoia. To be honest, it was a relief that they included the middle name, and made me wonder if someone at the Star Tribune was familiar with the events of September 26, 1992 in Salem, Oregon.

If you were not familiar with these murders and the effect they had on queer freedom in Washington, California, and especially Oregon, you can read more, or listen to a podcast about them, here.

In the meantime, I will take this coincidence as another reminder of the capacity of fascists to befoul everything that they touch, and as more motivation to prevent the spread of fascism’s stain.

May we always remember those who came before. May we always consider those who will come after.

 

 

If you support women and girls in sports

the threats are not from trans kids.

If you support women & girls in sports, the threats are not the other competitors, trans or not.

If you support women & girls in sports, the evidence has shown us again and again that the threats are from the coaches, the doctors, the organizing bodies, and the donors who claim most loudly that they support women and girls in sports.

Here’s yet another look at what harms women and girls in sports:

 

Really, people?

In my most recent post, I criticized Madison Cawthorn severely. I said, and I quote:

Madison Cawthorn is a jerk

Cawthorn’s behavior is gross

His behavior is atrocious,

The prejudiced behavior of his peers can never justify his own bad choices,

I encourage everyone to strongly condemn his assaultive behavior, loudly and often. There’s no excuse for it.

among other things. Yet I was accused of making excuses for Cawthorn’s behavior.

Most of y’all are missing the point. When people have criticized Cawthorn lately, in the specific context I made the subject of the last post, people have been asserting this his behavior is the result of being secretly gay, or not so secretly impotent, and thus entirely unmasculine, a failure as a man.

I was trying to articulate a wish that our entire community would do better than that, and so I did not point out any one particular person or comment, but I originally wrote a version of this over one Wonkette where these types of comments were being made:

We all know that Madison Cawthorn could spend 100 years on "marital service" and still not provide his beloved with a single orgasm.

There were more, including quite a few focussing on his supposed secret gayness and not so secretly flaccid penis.

The point here is intersectionality, people. Just because he’s a white, rich boy doesn’t mean he’s immune to ableism. And even if you don’t give a fuck about Cawthorn, there’s the splash damage you cause by assuming people wouldn’t be acting badly if they were straight, or were more masculine, or could get laid.

I said repeatedly that Cawthorn’s behavior has no excuses and should be criticized. I also said I would focus my criticism away from one single aspect of his bad behavior, his tendency to talk about sex a little too much, a little too loud, a little too publicly. This smacks of defensiveness, yes, but to be perfectly frank, I don’t expect people to have this conversation competently or appropriately, so I don’t want to have that conversation anymore. Too many people have used this as an excuse to call him sexually incompetent or gay, and there are more harmful choices to critique anyway.

There are many problems with Madison Cawthorn, but I don’t give a fuck whether or not he’s gay, and I don’t give a fuck whether his dick gets hard. Not only that, but when people focus on these things they only make ableism worse.

It’s not me making excuses for Cawthorn’s bad behavior. It’s the people who are saying it’s all because he’s a limp dick, cowardly faggot, whether they put it that bluntly or put effort into trying to be clever while saying it. I have said over and over, including in my last post, that there’s no excuse for his bad behavior and that we should criticize it. Criticize away. But the people who think that it’s okay to call him a sexually incompetent nancy boy are also causing problems here, and those problems must also be addressed.

People on Wonkette understood what I was talking about just fine, but maybe that’s because instead of me mentioning the sexual criticisms of Cawthorn (which I did, but which people seemed not to read) they actually saw the toxic crap that was being written. Even if no one spoke up against it, maybe there was already a question in the back of their minds that made the more gentle approach I used in my last post more effective in that context.

This is an intersectional world, and Cawthorn, like all of us, is an intersectional person. As I said, he’s a jerk, but he’s a complicated jerk. Blame the fuck out of Cawthorn for his bad behavior, but if you can’t do that without being homophobic, sex phobic, and ableist, maybe just shut the fuck up until you can learn to do better because spreading that shit on the walls isn’t actually helping.

Madison Cawthorn is a jerk, but he’s a complicated jerk

So people are talking about Cawthorn’s sexual behavior as a riff on the “service as a husband” statement he made in an interview to explain why he has missed so many votes so early in his career as a congress member. There’s actually a lot to critique in Cawthorn’s behavior, but I’m choosing not to focus on this aspect, the aspect where he talks about sex a little too loudly and a little too defensively.

There’s a toxic behavior of able bodied people that desexualizes people with disabilities, and strips men with disabilities of their masculinity, which is to say their adulthood and value as a member of a community. You may be familiar with the concept of “infantilizing” people with disabilities. Well, this is part of that. Men are adults, and infants don’t have sex. It’s all related. When there’s no sexual disfunction at all, and the person with the disability knows that, it’s still bad enough. It excludes you from community if people assume that something important in their own lives is something completely irrelevant to you.

It gets worse when there is actually sexual disfunction involved … or potentially involved. Nerves are complicated, and Cawthorn’s spinal injury could leave him unable to get an erection or not, we don’t know…but the odds that he’s permanently unable to get a penile erection are really high, far, far higher than the background rate of the population. Moreover, because most people don’t understand how complicated nervous systems can be, most people think an injury like Cawthorn’s has a 100% impotence rate.

Cawthorn’s behavior is gross, but he’s almost certainly responding to gross assumptions, prejudice, and community exclusion he faces as someone with a spinal cord injury. If he was a douchebro in high school whose friendship circle committed small sexual assaults and bragged about those assaults and/or their sexual behavior, then while other people would become more adult as they became adult, the insecurities of adolescent years would be replaced by the insecurities of being a guy assumed to be impotent in the middle of a culture where men’s sexual activity is associated with his general competence.

His behavior is atrocious, but it’s known that straight guys with spinal injuries compensate by being publicly sexual in their conversations and behavior. The prejudiced behavior of his peers can never justify his own bad choices, but we can at least understand that anti disability prejudice and Cawthorn’s insecurities in the face of that prejudice play a role here.

I encourage everyone to strongly condemn his assaultive behavior, loudly and often. There’s no excuse for it.

But before you condemn him for talking about sex with his wife just a little too loud or in a venue that’s a little too public, maybe consider how our society’s ableism is creating a context conducive to such overreactions. In particular, I’ve seen speculation (a LOT of speculation) that Cawthorn is a closeted gay man and defensiveness about potentially being seen as gay/bi/queer might have a lot to do with his behavior. I agree that defensiveness probably plays a role, but since we know that straight guys with spinal injuries are prone to this defensiveness as a result of how society treats them in relation to their disability, speculating on his queerness is not only unlikely to be correct, it’s actually likely to increase the anxiety (and ultimately the defensiveness) of other straight guys with spinal injuries.

There are a lot of people with spinal injuries, and while Cawthorn deserves condemnation, I don’t want to make those other people believe that we’re not sympathetic to what they’re going through. So for me, I’m going to choose not to focus on his loud, “I HAVE SEX! I CAN HAVE SEX!” statements and instead focus on the scary, fucked up, assaultive “car rides” he gave women in college and the scary fucked up political positions he takes in congress. And I’m certainly not going to suggest that he’s queer just because he’s a man with a spinal injury who seems defensive about sex and masculinity.

 

 

Say Her Name: Ma’Khia Bryant

The details are sketchy at this point and a number of important things, including how to spell her name and even her age are being reported differently in different places, but from the best information I have right now (which could easily change later):

A foster child, 15 years old, whose name was Ma’Khia Bryant, was being bullied and attacked by other foster kids, probably other girls. She called police for protection. At some point before police arrived (possibly even before she called them?) she acquired a knife to use in self-defense. When the police arrived there was some sort of altercation between Ma’Khia and at least one other girl. At this point she may or may not have been still holding the knife. It’s even possible that someone else had taken the knife from her, but I don’t consider that likely.

Police seeing a physical altercation with a knife involved shot to kill Ma’Khia, the girl who called desperate for protection. She is dead.

I don’t give a god damn if Ma’Khia had the knife in her hand and was swinging it: she was in state custody (unless this detail is also wrong, I fucking hate how different stories are saying different things, but none seemed to say that she **wasn’t** in state custody, it’s just that some stories don’t mention foster care at all), and the state owed her better. Even if there was an immediate necessity to protect the other child because Ma’Khia was swinging the knife, that only backs up responsibility from the cops to the foster system that shouldn’t have put her in that situation to begin with.

To make matters worse, the Mayor of Columbus, Ohio where Ma’Khia was killed called her a “young woman” who “lost her life”, probably between the couch cushions.

Ma’Khia was not a young woman. She was a child, a girl. It’s bad enough that the mayor would say such a thing, but it is much worse than that in that there is a long trend of Black children being treated as adults to maximize the blame that can be placed upon them while white young adults are called “children” or “teenagers” to minimize the blame that can be placed on them. Kyle Rittenhouse is a perfect example of the latter.

I’ll keep watching things, but FUCK THIS SHIT. I’m so sick and tired police violence. I’m so sick and tired of the government killing the people it has a duty to protect.