Defund the Police: Guy Fawkes Eve

It grates on me every time we (once again) have a conversation about “Defund the Police”. Many would criticize it as a bit of rhetoric for its use of the word “Defund” which can mean “reduce funding somewhat” or “eliminate all funding”, rather like “Slash taxes!” might. Part of why it grates on me is that I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to this argument, but (and this is a huge but) I’m not a rhetorician and I’m certainly not a sloganeer.

It may have come to the attention of one or both my readers that I’m actually somewhat longwinded at times. It turns out that this is a general trend for me. I fear speaking with insufficient precision for a number of reasons and my response is (often) to strive for hyperclarity, heedless of the prolix risks and results. As the Emperor of Austria might say, “Too many words.”

But it so happens that I have a modicum of self-awareness. While I can’t actually stop myself from writing a thousand word answer to a four word question, I can actually stop myself from writing slogans. I’m not good at them. I’m never going to be good at them. I’m content to have (and develop) other skills without ever shooting for a career in ad copy, headline writing, or sloganeering. I will always be uncomfortable with ACAB despite being fully aware that there’s some important truth there. Likewise I will always be uncomfortable with Defund the Police! It’s who I am.

So why is it grating to hear criticism of a slogan with which I, myself, am uncomfortable? Because the criticisms so often focus on exactly the subjects that I get wrong, time and again. A slogan doesn’t need to be precise or even accurate to have emotional resonance. Hey, Kool-Aid!, Where’s the beef?, and Can you hear me now? were all wildly successful slogans without being either precise or accurate about, well, anything at all. One might reasonably say, “Hey! Kool-aid sucks. Don’t bring that shit around here.” “Where’s the beef?” is a seemingly stupid question when the beef is easily found in the hamburgers of Wendy’s competitors. And, “Can you hear me now?” could be easily answered, “No, your network sucks,” as it was among people I knew at the time. The most recent slogan to hit the news is perhaps the best proof that slogans can seem to fail every intellectual test and still work: “Let’s go, Brandon!” is neither precise, nor accurate, nor intended to convey anything at all an encouragement to someone named Brandon. The follow-on, “Let’s go, Darwin!” that has gotten less press but is used against anti-vaxxers makes, if anything, even less sense. Darwin never encouraged people to die sooner for the sake of anything, much less evolution specifically.

So when people criticize Defund the police! for the trente-sixième time using the arguments that appeal not to the best in my, but to my areas of least competence, and they do so on the basis of premises that are easily proven wrong (e.g. slogans must be precise and accurate!) it annoys me because the people making those criticisms are inviting me to fall into the same pit in which I’ve landed thirty five times before. I know this doesn’t get us anywhere because I’ve made the same mistake myself, and I don’t appreciate being pushed toward making the same mistake again.

Defund the police! works as a slogan. We know that, empirically. This isn’t a question of ad executives sitting around a board room table discussing whether or not Where’s the beef? is sufficiently precise or accurate. We have real world data. Defund the police! makes right wing defenders of the police state nervous and puts them on the defensive. On the other hand, Defund the police! is a cry that large numbers of left wing critics of the police state voluntarily take up, propagate, and organize around.

These are exactly the qualities you want in a successful anti-police state slogan. It actually does (contrary to the comment of tallgrass05 in the thread which sparked this post) play offense instead of defense. Many critics of the slogan claim that they want to do exactly this, and yet fail to understand that we couldn’t get our policy proposals a media hearing until Defund the police! caused the news media to perform interviews and create stories specifically to answer the question, “What does Defund the police! really mean in practice?”

In short, the pithy people responsible for Defund the police! are actually the ones who have created the opportunity for me to wax with poetical prolixiferousization.

Given the opportunity, I’m going to take it by posting (with minimal reframing) some of the writing I’ve done on “abolishing police” and “defunding police” in comments elsewhere on FtB so that they can be found in one place for future reference and present discussion. But while taking that opportunity, it would be rude of me to be anything less than grateful towards those who provided it.

Thank you, creators of Defund the police! You’ve created a better slogan to fight the US police state than any in recent memory.

Critical Race Theory: Videos by people much more fun than me

For our next fun & games with CRT, I’m just going to share two good videos. One is very non technical while still getting most everything right. I like it a lot. Whatever quibbles I have with it I’m not going to bother with because right now I just want you to hear something from a lay person about CRT because hopefully whatever language they use will be more accessible and less wordy than whatever I would say. (Yes, I’ve heard myself speak. Can’t really help it. Sorry/not sorry.) This first, non technical video was actually suggested in the comments so if you’ve been following along in the comments, you might have already watched it. If you haven’t though, your narrator and host goes by the handle T1J and is excellent. Get to 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.)

QAnon, self parody on steroids

So, apparently Q has gone quiet since not long after last November’s US election. As a result there is a power vacuum, or perhaps “influence” vacuum, since QAnon isn’t precisely a hierarchical movement where anyone is overtly or specifically empowered to order others to take action. Whether in practice people have sufficient influence to declare an action needs to be taken and can expect that QAnons, at least some of them, will take that action is a separate question. (And I think the answer to that question is yes.) But call it power or influence, the vacuum exists, and there are many people who covet that power/influence and will pursue it.

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One night in Cancun

As both of my readers know, I am fond, on occasion, of rewriting the lyrics of my artistic betters. I do not usually rewrite them in timely or topical ways, but on this evening, in the space below a Wonkette article where no comments exist, some non-comments encouraged me to have a go at Ted Cruz to the tune of a largely forgotten 80s song from the musical Chess. Given it’s topical nature, if anyone who knows how to Twitter or Instabook wants to send this out, please tag Beto O’Rourke & Ted himself. I’d just be tickled to see what Beto’s reaction is, if any. Ted will ignore it publicly, of course, but I won’t mind pondering his displeasure in the absence of any overt response.

The original is “One Night in Bangkok,” but obviously that must change. (I will post a youtube link to the original for those unfamiliar with it, but it will follow my corrupted lyrics.)

And so to Harris County where we lay our scene…

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Seth Abramson Makes the Case For Charging Trump With Sedition

Seth Abramson analyzes Trump’s January 6th rhetoric in a thread that deserves wider exposure. As does his subsequent thread analyzing the speeches at Trump’s rally that immediately preceded his. Here’s the link to his analysis of Trump’s own words:

 

And here’s the link to the analysis of the speakers before him and the context that they create for understanding Trump’s speech:

 

This next quote is a particularly telling bit, but all of it is worthwhile. (I just wish he’d written the thing outside of twitter & linked it.) Read this:

 

There’s lots more. I’m not sure that 100k people actually attended the rally (others put the number at 30k or thereabouts), but besides using the larger end of crowd estimates, what he’s saying makes a reasonable case that this was knowing, willful incitement on the part of multiple speakers, including both Trump and is son.

Absolutely Nothing Nazi-Adjacent Here, Move Along

Or, you know, the opposite of that. The Proud Boys of North Carolina turned out to support a #StopTheSteal rally organized around the Governor’s mansion in Raleigh. Someone named Joshua Flores, who is clearly delusional about the presidential election result, organized the event and invited the Proud Boys as his “private security”. But when the event started they seemed less auxiliaries there to ensure the peace and more like people who want the other thing:

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Axios buys my premise

Earlier today I wrote about Trump’s capacity to destroy the Republicans from within just by remaining active in the party and doing what he do.

Of course, an important premise of that piece was that Trump could and would remain a powerful player, in my mind, the frontrunner, for the 2024 GOP nomination. KG called out that premise in the comments:

I think Trump is going to be fully occupied trying to stay out of prison.

While I take KG’s point, it wasn’t something I hadn’t thought about. It was merely something I had thought about but chose not to include any analysis on within that piece.

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The Charge of the Right Brigade

So, Trump is the kind of idiot who can’t handle losing, but is too megalomaniacal to notice when he doesn’t have a chance. In addition, part of the original allure of Trump was that he was a winner, and that was only enhanced by pro-incumbent bias in the electorate.

So, now Trump is going out a loser and many people are hoping they’ll never have to think about him ever again. I beg to differ. I want to see him back in 2024, and if necessary in 2028.

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