The Incivility Spreads

As you probably know, the staff of Maryland-based Capital Gazette were victims of a shooting attack, not to say mass murder or even terrorism (we much prefer “targeted attack”). CNN’s Anderson Cooper had two of the surviving victims on his show 360, both Gazette journalists, one named Selene San Felice the other Phil Davis. Both made important statements, but in response to the myriad thoughts and prayers sent in the direction of her and her surviving colleagues, the man and the woman who had just witnessed someone killed before their eyes had some pretty uncivil things to say:

Selene San Felice: I’ve heard that President Trump sends his prayers. … We need more than prayers. I appreciate the prayers. I was praying the entire time I was under that desk. I want your prayers but I want something else.

Phil Davis: … I was praying when he started reloading that shotgun that there weren’t going to be more bodies. And you know what? If we’re going to have a position in society where all we can offer each other is prayer then where are we?

San Felice: This is going to be a story for how many days? Less than a week? People will forget about us after a week unless, y’known, we keep tweeting. I don’t really care about tweeting right now. … I don’t know what I want right now, right? but I’m gunna need more than a couple days of news coverage and some thoughts and prayers. Because it’s…. Our whole lives have been shattered. And so, thanks for your prayers but I couldn’t give a f*ck about them if there’s nothing else.

While Fox News and conservatives generally are going to give San Felice and Davis a lecture about how their incivility caused their colleagues murders in yet another proof of the dictum pre hoc ergo propter hoc, lets give San Felice and Davis something different than blame, something better than lectures, something more than just thoughts and prayers.

If you’re a US citizen living anywhere or anyone living legally in the US, call your House Rep and your Senators and express yourself on what you think are appropriate government (and especially legislative) responses to mass murder.

 

 

Gah, NO! Peter Fonda What Is Wrong With You?

ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS, for Freud’s sake.

Peter Fonda is outraged at the injustice done by Trump’s policy and of the horrible suffering inflicted upon children being used as a political weapon to influence the policy choices of others. So, naturally, he suggests that Donald and Melania Trump’s child Barron should be caged and raped to encourage Trump to reformulate DOJ & DHS policies:

“We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles and see if mother will will (sic) stand up against the giant asshole she is married to,” Fonda wrote, in all caps.

This story was broken by right-wing websites who don’t deserve the links, but Holy Freuding Freud, Batman, Peter Fonda must face condemnation for this.

How moronic do you have to be to fail to realize that kidnapping and rape threats are not a path to justice?

 

These Are The Children: A Child Raped By Law Enforcement

This is intended to be a a first look at how undocumented immigrants with children come to the attention of ICE. This new series is not limited to documenting only children and parents who are separated from each other, and cannot guarantee that separation occurred for all the families mentioned. Instead, this series seeks only to illustrate how many families come to the attention of ICE and what a child-isolation policy might mean in those contexts.


I was struck by a particularly horrifying story today. It’s not unique. They’re never unique. But it’s one human example of how a woman and her child came to the attention of ICE.

A 47-year-old deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Sunday on allegations he repeatedly raped the 4-year-old daughter of an undocumented immigrant, threatening to deport her if she dared report him to the authorities.

It is not clear how long the mother was aware of the rapes, ….

Investigators say the deputy may have been raping the girl for months, if not years.

[Read more…]

Fascist Policing: Sacramento Edition II

Today I’d like to talk about the story of a man who wasn’t beaten by the cops, wasn’t arrested by them (at least in this encounter), wasn’t even searched by them. I want to talk about his story because it goes to the heart of the Black encounter with fascist policing today: the everyday, relentless, low-level harassment of Black residents of the US.

[Read more…]

Great American Satan Too Quick On The Draw: Valve Just Killed Good Faith, Again

So our dear colleague Great American Satan just put up a post on the failures of Valve to police its content and its vendors, creating headaches for its customers and sometimes even permitting scammers and/or abusive sellers to make customers feel worse than that. Go read, if you’re so inclined.

But, oh, the post was put up just hours too soon. PCGamer is reporting that the new Valve game to be sold through its Steam portal is getting calls for removal before it has been officially released. What kind of game could do that? Active Shooter, a game that, as far as I can tell, is Castle Wolfenstein where you get to choose to be the allies or the Nazis. There are two options for game play. In one, you’re a cop chasing down active shooters. In the other, the enemies are (on at least one level) fellow students in your imaginary high school and the cops that come to help rescue them. It looks like there may be additional, outside-of-school levels as well where your targets would not necessarily include high school students but would still include cops trying to do their jobs.

Yes, this is imaginary. Yes, there is a constitutional right in the US to design and attempt to sell such games. But no, people who create this type of content don’t get to be free from criticism, and the same right that protects the ability of dumb sociopaths to produce such a game also protects the rights of the rest of us to not only decline to buy the game, but also use our free expression to persuade other not to buy the game and even to persuade Valve/Steam to end their business relationship with the stupid-ass company (Acid) that produced this. Interestingly, even in places where speech is decidedly less free than the US, opposition is strong and vocal: PCGamer’s article leads with the news that a non-profit in the UK is calling for Valve to deep-six the game.

Despite correctly pointing out that other terrible games also exist, Acid deserves to take a major hit to its bottom line over this game, and if Valve continues to facilitate its wide release and to sell other games that encourage players to role-play malicious violence that simulates real-life situations, Valve deserves to lose money as well.

Rewatching To Catch A Predator: Rape Culture Makes Accurate Predictions

One of the less appreciated aspects of rape culture is how rapists are demonized, literally portrayed as animals, violently and obviously deranged, or otherwise clearly outside the human norm.

Part of this is addressed through push back against the “stranger in the bushes” myth. But even where we have been successful in raising awareness that

  1. a large amount of rape is perpetrated against children or vulnerable adults who know and are being supervised by their rapists and
  2. another large chunk of rape is perpetrated against people who first accept a date with someone who eventually rapes them

there is still a lingering myth that these rapists are somehow disguised demons, but demonic nonetheless. There is massive resistance to the idea that there’s a continuum of violation, instead insisting that, for instance, when Rebecca Watson asked repeatedly during a conference – even during her plenary address – not to be propositioned as she wasn’t at the conference for sex, someone ignoring that “no” and propositioning her anyway is completely and utterly different from someone who ignores a “no” to sex.

[Read more…]

Joe Biden is a Thug, and not the good kind

During an anti-violence rally, of all things, Joe Biden saw fit to declare:

“A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'” Mr. Biden told the crowd. “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said ‘no.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.’ “

In the midst of a national outcry about violence in schools, prompting but not only prompting intense, renewed attention on US gun laws, and at a rally specifically called to oppose violence, albeit focussed on sexualized violence, Biden chose to use his platform to endorse teens beating on teens.

As they say in the UK, “Good show, Mr. Biden. Good Show.”

 

Fascist Policing: Can People Under Arrest Consent to Sex Up The Cop Arresting Them?

So, there’s been another horrific case of police abuse that made it to my eyeballs. It actually made it there a couple weeks ago, but I haven’t had a chance to write about it. Content note for cops abusing power, rape, sexual assault, and all the rape apologies, okay?

[Read more…]

Racist Rape Apologists Do Good By Accident?

By racist rape apologists, we are of course including Trump, but the instigator here is Tucker Carlson acting on behalf of Trump. From RawStory:

Last night on Fox News, host Tucker Carlson called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into “Hollywood’s culture of systematic sexual abuse” in light of mounting accusations of sexual abuse and harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Today, it appears that President Donald Trump heeded Carlson’s advice.

As the Daily Mail reports, Trump’s DOJ is opening an investigation into Weinstein amid reports that the producer may head to Europe for “sex rehab,” leading to fears that he may “pull a Roman Polanski” and flee the country to avoid prosecution for his alleged crimes.

Clearly racist lapdog Carlson is engaging in attempted deflection. Perhaps he believes that “the left” will object to a DoJ investigation of sexual abusers and sex abuse enablers? If so, he’s dramatically, dramatically wrong. If there were violations of Title 7, we should know, and if the DOJ has reason to believe that violations may have occurred, an investigation into whether those suspected violations in fact occurred may very well be warranted.

So, sure. Set this precedent, Carlson. Create a more proactive culture at the Department of Justice, a culture that feels empowered to investigate any large employer that appears as if it may have engaged in ongoing discrimination against people on the basis of sex or race or national origin or religion. I’m perfectly happy to have the DOJ root such discrimination out of Hollywood. I’m not sure, however, why you think this is such a good idea. You really think that Fox News and the Catholic Church won’t be next? And if your desire is to focus on the bad acts of people who aren’t Trump, you might want to take note that Title 7 covers the federal government – the same federal government that currently employs at least one person who has admitted multiple times to engaging in multiple different kinds of assault and harassment while serving as owner/employer of the people being targeted.

This is what being an air-headed douchebro gets you: a TV show paying you millions so that you can inadvertently advance the liberal agenda. Good job, Carlson!

Returning the Money: My Ethics Say No

For the most part, I prefer to ignore Kelleyanne Conway. She’s a liar of the same magnitude as Baghdad Bob, so even if I wanted to use her words to understand the right wing, I couldn’t. There’s just no way to reliably understand what Trump or (more broadly) his administration or Republicans in general think about an issue based on anything she has to say. She might occasionally tell the truth (I imagine when she’s expressing her personal opinion she’s more likely to be truthful, but her personal opinion of Trump did a 180 once he got the nomination and her income depending on getting work from him), but that only makes it worse.

There’s an old riddle about meeting one trans* person who always tells the truth and another trans* person who always lies. They stand at the fork in the road, and, not wanting to waste time and effort going to the wrong place, you decide to ask these trans* folk how to get where you’re going. However, since these two trans persons are two of three genetically identical triplets, you can’t know which one tells the truth and which one lies. How, then, do you find your way? There is a method for getting the truth no matter which triplet you ask. But here’s the tribadism: getting that truth requires that the liar lie 100% of the time. If you encounter a pair of triplets where one tells the truth 90% of the time and one lies 90% of the time, there is no way to ensure that you get good information out of them.

So Conway tells outrageous lies. She tells them with verve, sincerity, and even enthusiasm. But she’s not some character in a philosophical thought experiment. And so even though you always know that she’s likely to be lying, and in some cases you have prior information that allows you to know she’s definitely lying, just listening to her gives you no reliable information about anything.*1

But others like RawStory and Ed Brayton do pay some attention to her, and I pay some attention to RawStory and Ed Brayton, who runs a good blog over on Patheos. So I ended up reading a RawStory piece on Conway’s latest rant against Hillary Clinton. The substance of her critique is that

  1. Clinton is a woman
  2. Clinton ran for President
  3. Clinton has previously made statements supportive of victims and survivors of sexual harassment and assault, and
  4. Clinton has received money from Weinstein, now publicly reported to be someone who has engaged in sexual harassment and assault.

Now, Conway hasn’t run for POTUS, but it’s unclear what role that plays in the analysis. If this is only used to mean that she has voluntarily taken a role in the public eye, well then

  1. Conway is a woman
  2. Conway has voluntarily taken a role in the public eye
  3. Conway has previously made statements supportive of victims and survivors of sexual harassment and assault, and
  4. Conway has received money from Trump, widely reported to have engaged in sexual harassment and assault even before she took her job at the White House.

So when Conway insists that Clinton has insufficiently responded to the reports of Weinstein’s behavior, any reasonable person might tune out at the obvious hypocrisy of this person accusing Clinton of hypocrisy. But what I found interesting was Conway’s idea of what constituted an inappropriate and insufficient response:

“I felt like a woman who ran to be commander-in-chief, president of the United States, the first one ever, who talks about women’s empowerment, took an awfully long time to give support to those women who were coming forward,” Conway said. “And has still — as far as we know — kept the money, kept the dirty money that dirty Harvey has given her in her campaign.”

Based on the above, any reasonable reporter should be asking Conway if she has kept the money paid to her for working for Trump, though we know that’s not going to happen. So let’s move on.

We can be confident that lots of the money received from Weinstein by the Clintons, and by Hillary Clinton in particular, has been spent, I’m sure. But imagine if you knew exactly how much Weinstein gave and that Hillary had that much cash on hand. You’ve decided that the appropriate response is not to keep the money, but too few people think about what comes next.

It is, in fact, not uncommon for political campaigns to return checks uncashed if the checks somehow indicate that the donor is beyond the political pale. But is this the best policy? Several years ago John Scalzi was having a problem with Vox Day being an asshat, and solved it via donating money to groups opposed to Vox Day’s apparent positions and causes. How much better would the donation be if the money came out of Vox Day’s own pocket, limiting his ability to donate to groups that supported his racist, sexist, homophobic dipshittery?

This is why I sincerely hope that Clinton does not return any of Weinstein’s money to Weinstein. At this point, Weinstein got most of what he wanted – Bill Clinton in the Arkansas governor’s mansion and the White House and Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Imagine if he was able to successfully support all his favorite political causes and candidates AND THEN get a 100% rebate. That seems like a very, very bad plan. The money Clinton might use to pay back Weinstein would have to come from somewhere, after all. To paraphrase John Kerry, how to you ask someone to be the last donor to repay a sexual predator? It would be like the Catholic Church getting to shuffle predatory priests around, pay out a bunch of millions in settlements, and then have all that money returned to them by donors concerned about the money they “lost” to survivors. As if anyone would ever want to contribute money to the Catholic Church to refill the coffers drained by their sexual predation!*3

If Clinton and Conway did want to rid themselves of any possible taint associated with taking money from sexual predators, the reasoning above gives us some clear guidelines:

  1. Don’t give the money back to the unethical jerkwad.
  2. When picking a place for that money to go, you have to be deliberate, otherwise buying a yacht for yourself would be getting rid of the money – you gave it to the yacht company, right?
  3. The primary criterion in picking places to receive your money should be that they have a publicly announced mission that is at very least inclusive of opposing the behavior that made the source of your money an unethical slimeball in the first place.
  4. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a well-funded, useful advocacy group that’s as specific as “Survivors of sexual harassment in the film and television industries opposing Weinstein’s ability to harm people with impunity”. So don’t set up false expectations of perfect tailoring. For both Conway and Clinton a group that makes it their mission to oppose rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment ought to be specific enough.
  5. When you make the donation, make sure that any attention is on the group doing the good work, not on you for giving the donation: after all, you’re doing this because you don’t want to be tainted, not because you’re super-generous.

It’s not generous in the way that Scalzi was generous with his own money, but if you’re ever running a group of campaign that has been given a donation that generates more negatives than the cash can generate positives, I think this is a good basic guideline for where to entrust your tainted money.

Of course, none of this is likely to help Conway, as the list of organizations she would need to support is so long that she’d still have some hard decisions to make. But Conway if you happen to be reading this, I’d be happy to help you prioritize your donations to the different possible organizations deserving of the tainted money you’ve accepted for serving Donald Trump. Though it has only expanded since the recent hurricanes and Mexican earthquakes, I’m sure that I could help you rid yourself of even millions of dollars.

 

 


*1: Did I really just write all that to say I usually don’t bother to pay attention to Conway and I feel I have good reason? Apparently I did. Oy.

*2: yes, tepidly and inadequately and incompetently and while engaging in victim blaming and … well, a whole lot more ands that ensure her “advocacy” is anything but helpful and effective, but in her defenses of Trump she has gone out of her way on TV to say that she supports “real” survivors. Since she didn’t single out Clinton for the effectiveness of her advocacy, merely for the fact that she spoke up about survivors needing and deserving things, the effectiveness and even the offensive malicious falseness of her statements “advocating” for survivors are not the point. If she made statements that she feels

*3: That might just be the most depressing attempt at humorous litotes I’ve ever made.