The South Carolina Convict To His Gov

Come fire at me and be my thug
and see the scales of justice shrug
that prisons, jails, and cops, and courts,
come to fail without this last resort.

And I will sit upon a chair,
blindfolded and shackled there
while priests and witnesses espy
a life removed, a gun thereby

Poor hands will dig my bed of clay.
With Justice, there I’ll always lay:
Shot by officers of state.
Death just in time, we call just fate.

I’ll be buried in a suit of wool,
a handsome cloth bought for a fool.
This late respect, required but cold,
may cover your hatred for my soul.

But this is what our laws require:
Punishment that most befits our ire.
For our justice is moral rage
Which murders to its wrath assuage.

The Christian choirs shall sway and sing.
My death knell will be Justice’s ring.
And if this form of justice voters move,
Then fire at me, and Justice prove.

The Firing Squad

While not real yet, I’m not speaking of a metaphorical one. Prominent Mississippi Republican Robert Foster has called for the shooting deaths of anyone who “grooms” teenagers by encouraging them to believe that they can wear the clothing of the “opposite sex” and/or change sex. He has also called for the death penalty for anyone who tells others that “men can become women” or that locker rooms can be inclusive of both trans people and cis people at the same time.

He denies that he wants to kill trans people for being trans, he just wants to kill anyone who says a nice thing about trans people, ever. But this isn’t an attack on free speech rights, heavens no!

Foster … calls himself a “Man of Faith,” and a “Constitutional Conservative,”

He’s a constitutional conservative! Certainly the constitution says something about the government shooting people to death if you don’t like what they have to say!

Will any of the FREEZE PEACH squad show up to contest this assault on the First Amendment? Of course not. The First Amendment only applies when people criticize other people on twitter. Governments killing people because of their speech isn’t an idea to get alarmed about!

Lest you think I’m being alarmist, from the Mississippi Free Press:

“I said what I said,” he wrote, adding to what he had tweeted. “The law should be changed so that anyone trying to sexually groom children and/or advocating to put men pretending to be women in locker rooms and bathrooms with young women should receive the death penalty by firing squad.”

And all of this is from the last 36 hours. Expect more from Foster. And, of course, expect a lone wolf to kill some trans people or PFLAG members or random folks out for brunch at a queer-owned breakfast spot, because that’s how this works.

I’ve lived with a target on me since I was bashed in Portland in 1992, but now if you’ve ever said something nice about trans people you’re wearing the target as well.

Look out for each other. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.



22/2/22, AKA Tulle Tutu Tuesday

While PZ frets over Chtwosday, I wish to offer a different perspective. The BFF, another friend, and I have been working on hand-making tutus for Tutu Tuesday (or “Tulle Tutu Tuesday” if that isn’t too too). I have been measuring, folding, pinning, holding, and other tasks as necessary since I’m not skilled at the sewing itself, which also means that my tutu is not quite done.

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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.

Mano’s Optimism, Solnit’s Reassurances and Progressive Momentum

Mano has a new post up quoting extensively (and agreeing with) a Rebecca Solnit essay in The Guardian that would have us believe that January 6th is not the sign of a rising movement which requires effort to oppose, but the last gasps of a dying political faction drowning under the waters of an unstoppable progressive flood. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence until victory in cases she mentions (Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Obergefell v. Hodges) to others not mentioned but surely in her thoughts (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Texas v. Johnson, and Bostock v. Clayton County), accompanied by scores of other victories in major social arenas and uncountable victories on the individual level, Solnit sees a steady direction of flow in the waters of history, and imagines this is entails a liberatory momentum which seemingly cannot be reversed (“The right is trying to push the water back behind the dam.”) Here is a small portion of her argument:

Michelle Alexander wrote a powerful essay arguing that we are not the resistance. We, she declared, are the mighty river they are trying to dam. I see it flowing, and I see the tributaries that pour into it and swell its power, and I see that once firmly grounded statues and assumptions have become flotsam in its current.

… You have to remember how different the past was to recognize how much has changed.

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Third Graders Forced to Reenact the Holocaust


You know, I like to think of myself as immune to antisemitism. I wasn’t raised to think of myself as a jew. That came over time. And because of my background, there are jews who would think I wouldn’t qualify. And because I grew up in Oregon where other jews were scarce, I didn’t encounter much in the way of overt antisemitism as a child. Third to 7th grade when I was in private school a bit, but nothing that gave me lasting scars, old wounds that might be extra sensitive to pain.

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Philosophy’s Sufficient Causes

Philosophy is the inevitable result of a houseful of books, alcohol, and vibrators. If you don’t have something interesting to say after drunk-masturbating while reading Judge Sirica’s Watergate memoir because you really wanted to finish it before dinner but it was getting a little dry, and speaking of dry your hitachi is right next to you so why not? then you won’t ever have anything interesting to say.

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The law can be dry, does that mean that lawyers are anti-poets?

This question came up in response to a new Elon Musk tweet that asserted, “Laws are on one side, poets on the other.” I think that it’s wrongheaded and under appreciates what lawyerly skill entails.

The best lawyers are often poetic (even if it doesn’t seem that way in certain filings/statements), since skill with the law requires keeping multiple possible meanings in your head at the same time. Just writing a contract requires something that may look like anti-poetry, but the reason is that the drafting lawyer is going through the process of anticipating possible alternative meanings and excluding them.

Poets, too, have to anticipate possible alternative meanings, though they only exclude the ones that disrupt their intent and deliberately import those ambiguous, multiple-meaning phrases that enhance their intent. Likewise, when the lawyer isn’t drafting something precisely, but rather finding the advantage in something already written (often a statute, but it could be a contract previously drafted), it’s to the client’s great advantage for the lawyer to see multiple meanings in single phrases and craft an argument that employs the most favorable meanings rather than the most obvious ones.

Skill with puns and poetry is correlated with skill in the law. If you’ve got puns, poetry, and logic all down, you’ll probably be great.

Here comes the sexism, WTF, people?

The Rittenhouse verdict hasn’t even been public for an hour and already I’m seeing supposed lefties criticizing Rittenhouse’s mother not for her parenting or her recent interviews but for her appearance.

People are saying she must be a drunk or a meth head or a victim or incest or a perpetrator of incest all because they’re

  1. pissed at the legal system, and
  2. offended by her unattractive (to them) looks.

I get that people are pissed, but if how you want to express your anger at our legal system is to trash a woman who didn’t commit a crime, don’t do it here and maybe don’t do it at all.

Fuck all that sexist shit. Fuck it right out of the universe.