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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The Genius Excuse

Correction Below.

Since we’re talking about Watson again, I thought I’d recommend a post on BitchMedia about how genius is used as an excuse for sin in the arts (thought the article focuses on film specifically). Despite the seeming differences in the scientific enterprise and the artistic enterprise, the observations in that piece seem quite relevant to how our society treats Michael Shermer, James Watson, and Inder Verma.

Consider this:

Auteur theory, originating in French film criticism, credits the director with being the chief creative force behind a production—that is, the director is the “author.” Given that film, with its expansive casts and crews, is one of the most collaborative art forms ever to have existed, the myth of a singular genius seems exceptionally flawed to begin with. But beyond the history of directors like Terrence Malick, Woody Allen, and many more using their marketable auteur status as a “business model of reflexive adoration,” auteur worship both fosters and excuses a culture of toxic masculinity. The auteur’s time-honored method of “provoking” acting out of women through surprise, fear, and trickery—though male actors have never been immune, either— is inherently abusive. Quentin Tarantino, Lars Von Trier, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and David O. Russell, among others, have been accused of different degrees of this, but the resulting suffering of their muses is imagined by a fawning fanbase as “creative differences,” rather than as misogyny and as uncompromising vision rather than violence.

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No, It’s Not Always A Sexual Predator

So, Michigan State’s investigation into how in the world could an employee have sexually abused athletes for multiple decades? turned up a not-so-stunning fact. Abuser Larry Nassar’s one-time supervisor and later dean of the university for 15 fucking years, a man named William Strampel, turns out to be a rape-y jerk. Multiple people have come forward to tell their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace, naming Strampel as a perp. Despite how hard these cases are to criminally prosecute, the evidence is, in fact, good enough that a local District Attorney has filed charges. In this case, the charges are for “forcible sexual contact”.

Gee, the man ultimately responsible for the failure to discipline (read: fire and turn over evidence to the cops) an abusive employee and to protect not-yet-adult athletes, the man who ignored (or, I suppose, downplayed to insignificance) clear evidence of sexual abuse … that man is guilty of sexualizing the workplace and probably guilty of criminal sexual conduct?

“Big surprise,” I can hear you thinking. But actually, yes. Yes it is a surprise.

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Mama Monday: It’s the Mother’s Fault

So, Politico has just the story we need in the contemporary USA: a how-to for blaming everything Trump on a woman.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump’s behavior—as much as, or more than, any policy he’s advanced—stands as a subject of consternation, fascination and speculation. Psychology experts read and watch the news, and they have the same basic curiosity lots of people have: What makes somebody act the way he acts? None of them has evaluated Trump in an official, clinical capacity—Trump is pretty consistently anti-shrink—but they nonetheless have been assessing from afar, tracking back through his 71 years, searching for explanations for his belligerence and his impulsivity, his bottomless need for applause and his clockwork rage when he doesn’t get it, his failed marriages and his ill-tempered treatment of women who challenge him. And they always end up at the beginning. With his parents. Both of them. Trump might focus on his father, but the experts say the comparative scarcity of his discussion of his mother is itself telling.

Crafty ‘Cubi of Candy Corn! This is going to be terrible, isn’t it?

Oh, yes. Oh yes indeed.

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How to Critique Infantilism, Special Snowflakes, Manospherians, and the larger Alt-Right in 140 Characters or Less

David Futrelle has been listing tweets he finds interesting, amusing or, in a few cases, actually important. I won’t repeat all of them here, but I have posted one or two before, and this one seems particularly relevant for the FtB crowds (can’t find the original tweet, posting the text). It is from author/artist Scott Westerfeld, the creator of a few graphic novels that I’ve not yet read:

Scott Westerfeld
@ScottWesterfeld

Common Excuses for Fascism
Germany: Bread costs wheelbarrows of cash
Japan: Obeying emperor god-king
USA: A feminist critiqued my video game

1:37 PM – Aug 18, 2017

yeah, gonna have to try out some of his novels now.

 

What Fascist Policing Looks Like: Harris County Edition

As I have said before (a number of times) in this series, a principle component of fascist policing is an environment where police misconduct routinely goes unpunished. This is not to say that such misconduct never goes unpunished, but that even egregious misconduct is not guaranteed to be punished when brought to light.

Harris County, Texas gives us yet another example of cops going unpunished despite egregious behavior. The fascist cops in this case are Ronaldine Pierre and William Strong. Yet I want to question the extent to which a fascist policing mentality is exclusively to blame.

All the trigger warnings, should you choose to continue.

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Right Thing, Wrong Reason

It’s not that often that one person will say that another lacks a moral compass, or has a moral compass that points in the wrong direction, on the basis of a decision on which they agree.

However the case of Afghanistan’s competitors in the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics expo/competition is that rare basis for calling amoral someone with whom I agree. The Afghanistan team, apparently made up entirely of girls, had been denied visas two times already on the basis of the Trump travel ban. A third, last-minute denial would have crushed their dream to meet other roboticist and participate personally in the challenge (though there was a back-up plan where organizers would agree to operate the Afghani team’s robot while the team, like any non-participant, watched a video stream of their own creation). Trump was criticized by a broad spectrum of people familiar with the event, and after several weeks or months of that criticism met with his advisers and very quickly they settled on a course of action where the girls were denied that visa for a third and final time, but given notification that they would be admitted under parole.

Parole is a long-standing procedure that is used much less routinely these days than in times past. Essentially, it allows border control agents to admit a person without a valid visa when travelling to the US on a passport from a country that does not have a no-passport agreement with the States. It is of course still used – people forget their passports, get pickpocketed in airports, or what have you. Normally people are denied entry under those circumstances, but if you know the right people and can have the right calls made on your behalf, it is sometimes possible to be admitted anyway. This procedure can also be used in cases where a person’s status as an asylum claimant is not certain, but turning the person away might result in risk or otherwise be an undesirable course of action. As I (imperfectly) understand how the system is used, it is very rare to be given notice in advance that you will be allowed entry on parole (rather than having that status be in doubt until you are physically present at a border entry point).

But Trump was in a quandary: if he issued visas, then he would be undermining his own policy, currently waiting for review by SCOTUS. How is it possible to insist that this really is a blanket, neutral policy and yet issue these visas? It seems especially dangerous if these Afghanis were described in the way that we are more used to seeing muslims attempting to enter the US described:

Amateur electronic engineers with a collection of circuits, gears, and structural and other elements that could be assembled to serve any number of purposes sought entry to the United States today despite lacking the proper visas. Officials said that they had determined these muslims taken to soldering together unknown devices were intending to travel to Washington DC where they would gather with others with similar skills at a location within walking distance of the White House, the Supreme Court, Capital Hill, and other sensitive locations.

But despite fitting this description to a T, the girls were given advance parole. Why can I not give credit to Trump for admitting the Afghani team? It’s a simple case of right decision, desperately wrong reason. Trump wishes to escape political consequences for his policies’ affects on sympathetic subjects. But if there is truly a national security need to deny entry to all Afghanis, then Trump is putting his personal political convenience before national security.

I believe we all know that there is no such national security need, but Trump defends himself and his policies by pretending one exists. It simply is not possible that Trump actually has a working moral compass and either

  1. Maintains a discriminatory policy without believing that there is a valid national security reason for that policy.
  2. Exempts certain persons on a case-by-case basis, even when they have technical skills that are frequently painted as dangerous by the administration, while believing that there is a valid national security reason to maintain their policy.

These are mutually exclusive and fully comprehensive possibilities. Either the ban is needed or it’s not. If not, the ban is immoral. If it is, then admitting persons who constitute a national security risk is immoral.

And this is all before we get to the fact that sexism likely plays a role in the Trump administration’s assessment that the team should be given entry parole.

Donald Trump is immoral. It’s nice to have it laid out so simply for all to see.

Killing Black Agency

Error Correction: It turns out that Writey McScriberson is living in Illinois. When I wrote this post, I was under the misimpression that WM was located in the UK. My bad. I have not changed the text below, but any commentary speculating on differences between the UK and the US were obviously motivated by my own misimpressions, not the actual life, experience, or writing of WM.


Shiv’s blog is such a great source of things that need discussion, it is entirely unsurprising that another of her recent posts has inspired me to write.

As I try to do when blatantly ripping off ideas from Shiv, I will be writing about something she mentions but does not explore in depth and let her main points speak for themselves, as they do so reliably and so well.

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Texas, Dear Bountiful Spheres of Meaty Goodness and Tentacles of Semolina, What Have You Done?

So, I was reading Shiv’s blog post about the NHS and abortion coverage for residents of Northern Ireland when I ran across a Guardian article while trying to get my facts straight before commenting.

While you already have the important bits from the title of this post, permit me to quote directly from the article:

…the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.

You have that right: the USA is the only urbanized country in the word where the national maternal death rate is increasing to any statistically significant degree. Moreover, in almost all urbanized countries, the maternal death rate actually fell a statistically significant degree. But Texas, dear, sweet, Texas: you are a state with resources exceeding many of those measured nations, and your maternal death rate shot up so fast that experts were left with no explanation other than a previously undetected war, natural disaster, or economic upheaval.

Molly Ivins would tell you herself to flush your health policies into the Gulf of Mexico (after extensive detoxifying treatment, of course), but she’s not here, so I have to do it.

Texas: Your health policies suck. Your legislative actions and inactions suck. Your religious rationalizations for medical malpractice suck. And, well, I’m having a hard time coming up with any reason not to say that as a state your entire corporate entity sucks.

Fuckit.

Texas, you suck.