Bad Journalism 101: Perverted Motels Edition

Content Note: Child Sex Abuse

So, we here in my head are, as you might expect from the title of this blog, quite interested in both perverts and perversion. We believe that our blog name can and should be interpreted in 2 ways:

  1. Perverts deserve justice in the same way non-perverts deserve justice, and
  2. The course of justice must sometimes be perverted, that is redirected from what in the past had been considered the just outcome. After all, every major advance in justice has been denounced as a perversion of justice by someone.

But despite our interest in these topics, we never expected to have to defend motels from non-consensual obscene photography. Yet, apparently there is such a need. The following is an actual quote from Rawstory:

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Rush Limbaugh: Sharknado is Real!

I kid you not, Rush Limbaugh fell for a satire article about oncoming Hurricane Florence, discussing it on air (and retweeting it? – I can’t find the source on that) to let his followers know that sharks

are being lifted out of the Atlantic Ocean and dumped into the storm because it’s so strong it’s sucking them in there.

The longer version might be even more laughable:

In addition to the pig manure, in addition to the slop, in addition to the floods, in addition to the cars rolling around on the waters in front of your house, in addition to the mudslides and the landslides, now you might end up with a shark in your front yard. I’m telling you right — you think I’m making this up? This appeared somewhere!

Yes. It appeared in the prestigious Pulitzer Prize-winning media outlet, “somewhere”. Oh, Rush.

Bizarrely, after asserting the sharks might end up in your front yard, he later added:

Of course the only water that might contain sharks would be storm surge. It isn’t going to be raining sharks. And that’s — The predominant water source in a hurricane is rainfall.

How sharks are being “lifted out of the Atlantic Ocean and dumped into the storm” without ever leaving the oceanic waters is a conundrum, surely. But if anyone can find a way to make a dumb “Sharknado is real!” fake news story even dumber, rest assured that Rush is the one to accomplish that feat.

EnlightenmentLiberal Improved My Thinking and Writing

So just a few days ago I wrote a piece titled, “You are not the hero.” I thought I was pretty clear that the problem was that the author of the NYTimes anonymous op-ed about resisting Trump’s orders was being lionized by many in the media, including FtB-friend Ed Brayton (with whom I normally agree).

Enlightenment Liberal came along and wrote a comment to that post that made me uncomfortable. Where I thought I’d been clear, EL expressed disagreement that I should believe every Trump employee has a duty to resign. While we had a short back-and-forth and realized we were in agreement, I wondered why that wasn’t clear already and re-read my piece. There are many times when I write something long, but that includes definitive statement X, only to be told that I believe or assert Not-X. Since I’m pretty careful with my writing, I expected that probably I had been clear and that EL just misread a long-winded post.

But that’s not what I found. In addition to using a vague word “situation” to sum up a few things about the author and the media’s treatment of the author that really should have been spelled out, there was also something important yet entirely missing. Although I took it for granted that an important part of the context is that it’s actually been the Republicans who fetishize rule of law at the national level (and have done at least since Nixon), I realized on re-reading that I hadn’t included that bit of context anywhere in my original post and others wouldn’t take it for granted.

See, here’s the thing: although I would have been mildly irked with anyone of any party being lionized in this circumstance, the depth of my feeling, the true source of my outrage, was that someone who is clearly a powerful person in the Republican party is clearly going to the media to seek not only absolution but also praise for disobeying the law and the lawful orders of the President whose orders that person – if working in the Executive – is bound to follow.

My contempt for, e.g., the author’s co-optation of the term “resistance” in this particular political moment where resistance means something very different than supporting the caging of children but opposing withdrawal from a bi-lateral trade agreement with South Korea is an integral part of my perspective on the lionization of the op-ed author. Slacktivist author Fred Clark captured well the particular flavors of the editorial that were responsible for my reaction to the media’s lionization of the op-ed author:

All of which means that this op ed reads less like an indictment of the president than the feckless defense of some Vichy functionary desperately trying to save his neck by pretending after the fact that he’d been a subversive saboteur all along. (h/t to Jenora Feuer)

I do think that it would be good if every single person currently on the White House staff along with every single senate-confirmed appointee originally nominated by Trump turned in resignations in a rapidly cascading event that left Trump alone in the White House without even anyone to answer the phones or process paperwork to hire new staff. I think that would be glorious. Yet I also don’t think that everyone who needs a paycheck should be ethically required to quit their jobs.

There’s a clear focus to my opposition to the media treatment of this editorial, and it’s dependent on seeing the contradictions between the power to further policies within the government (which the author maintains and embraces, praising the majority of Trump’s agenda) and the powerlessness of a functionary to a mad king (which the author employs rhetorically to absolve, through the ambiguity of anonymity, every single not-President person working in the Executive Branch), as well as the contradictions between the fetishization of rule-of-law to the extent that the right demonizes people with the entirely legitimate view that the 2nd Amendment does not deny the government the power to prohibit private ownership of weapons unneeded for legitimate private purposes and frequently used dangerously or illegally (even murderously) and the editorial seeking praise specifically for violating the rule of law.

For whatever reason, the importance of these contradictions weren’t clear in my original post. Nor was this: rule of law is a very important value, but it’s not the only value. Keeping your job within Trump’s administration doesn’t make you a demon, but you’re still not a hero. And if you’re deluded enough to think you are or should be the hero of this story, deluded enough to write a NYTimes op-ed about your heroic efforts that names yourself, literally, the Resistance, then you absolutely deserve scorn.

But you – and everyone else – also deserve a more carefully worded post than I originally created.

Radio Announcers Unclear on Clinton’s Concept

So on the reissue of Funkadelic’s “Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow” they included a few bonus tracks. One of those bonus tracks was a 60-second radio advertisement for the album which featured only the first independent clause of the album’s title (as did the modest album cover itself, though the inside material made clear that the full name of the album included the shocking word ‘ass’).

The ad was read by an announcer who is funny in many ways, all of them unintentional. From the unironic use of 70s slang now rarely used without irony to the stilted, white-accented approach to lauding an album that is anything but stilted or white, this audio clip fully deserves its place on an album that went platinum…

 

 

First Amendment Issues are NOT (necessarily) Free Speech Issues

All freaky, kinky, queer women are human beings.

Not all human beings are freaky, kinky, queer women (more’s the pity).

So how is that related to the first amendment? The First Amendment (FA) protects more than just speech. It protects a total of 5 separate rights. Let’s take a look at the full text and then break it down:

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Science Magazine is Failing Us

Science journalism is failing us in important ways. This post will be far shorter than I might like it to be, but I want it to be readable, and in any case I plan on following up soon with more information and also, I hope, a detailed action plan.

Here I simply want to point out a single article. In another post, I’ll also be discussing an article on the dismissal of Francisco Ayala from UC Irvine and the pattern of sexual harassment that led to that dismissal. But right now, let’s tackle an interesting article with a headline that is … terrible, in ways we will investigate later. The headline reads thus:

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NO KUDOS FOR TRUMP

Every reporter, anchor or commentator who uses any media platform to suggest Trump should be celebrated for signing this executive order promising, “I’m going to cut way back on the torture of children,” must face serious criticism.

You can start with Dana Bash for offering “Kudos to Trump”. Feel free to send reasonably-worded reactions to CNN.


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It has happened

I’ve been analyzing and critiquing conceptions of free expression since the 1990s when anti-domestic violence shelters started asking me about how it might be possible to construct policies that support trans* participants in shelter programs without punishing non-trans* participants for the everyday anti-trans hostility that most weren’t equipped to recognize. I’ve done it from multiple perspectives – activist, ethicist, and law student – and from a US focus to a Canadian focus to an international comparative frame. So I’ve seen this one coming for a while now. We’ve been close before, but now we’re there. Not just an enemy of the state, but the biggest, most threatening enemy of the state is freedom of expression, especially expression that is distributed through the power of the press.

Donald John Trump tweeted this this morning:

So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!

Expect the US based Peterson and Harris fanboys and other general Freeze Peaches to celebrate or ignore this statement. For people that care about our rights and freedoms, however, this is the second worst statement the president could issue. For now, he identifies “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for mockery. The step from there to identifying “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for punishment is so dangerously small, I think few will recognize it when it happens.