Combating Dystopia.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Which We Mildly Regret Relocating...

You're going to want to watch this: Chris discusses NC legislative madness on MSNBC « The Progressive Pulse

Three things-

1.) Since I'm back in NC for the foreseeable future, I vow to take a vested interest in state politics from this moment forward. I expect it to be a cringe worthy experience if this anti-abortion legislation is any indication...

2.) I adore-full stop- Melissa Harris Perry. She inspires, and makes me want to actually finish my Phd (cutting through the angst, shocking I know) .

3.)Gov. Bev Perdue is as showcased in this clip is doing an amazing job being the "thin blue line" against the idealouges and the Tea Party drives policy from staunchly conservative to batshit conservative. Seems a tireless job to use a veto stamp so much and so necessarily.

(Speaking of somber notes, this song evokes a similar pang of longing and...utter despair)

Defamation for fun and profit. And fail.

Judge: Sherrod Defamation Suit Against Breitbart Can Proceed | TPMMuckraker

The lesson? Running a burn campaign on low level burrecrats (and otherwise kindly old ladies) by editing their meaningful and introspective testimony about how racism can lead to poor service and is wrong because you're making a name for yourself as a Republican shil is...about as douchey, illegal and unethical as it sounds. Proceed to Trial and do not pass go.

Its Like Watching a Morally Bankrupt, Dispicable Trainwreck...

There's something particularly troubling about how the press has been covering the tragedy in Oslo. When they're not blatantly diverting the subject back to their discomfort zones (Look, over there Muslim terrorists!) , or Beck's classicly horrifying "Those kids were practically hitler youth (so its not AS bad some nut killed them all)" they're pontificating on Breivik's methodically chilling manifesto and coming up with THIS disturbing assessment:

"As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right."(emphasis mine)

Its difficult to understand what anyone would have to gain from not uniformly denouncing someone who is capable of the cold blooded murder of innocents, and further an odd intersection between troubling and fascinating to watch some do this- all in the name of being loosely affiliated with the same (tremendously common) religion.

When involving Breivik, one hears pleas for nuance and understanding regarding what it is the writers and the villain share- belonging to an aggregate. The post Brayton showcases by Adam Serwer does a great job illuminating this position, especially given many of these same conservative writers eagerness to paint the "run of the mill" threat to America (tm) as being anti-American, Anti-Christian and most assuredly of the Muslim faith.

Sewer's article raises the serious concern with the tone of the argument here- not that they're writing and responding to a very real human tragedy...but they're responding with what a friend on the book of faces rightly categorized as a "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy (which the wiki-page helpfully provided Bill O'Riley's response to the Oslo massacre as an example). "Why, surely no one belonging to our group could be responsible for such awful things. But everybody from those OTHER groups they're monsters worthy of being suppressed and chased from this American life... but please, show some nuanced consideration for how intricately different we as Christians can be. Please excuse me while I demonize everyone practicing a religion I know little about."

Some days, I shudder for the universe. Oh what a world my parents gave me...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teen Suicide Factory

The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Michele Bachmann's District | Mother Jones:

At this point it is safe to say Anoka-Hennepin school district is developing something of an image problem. The district has had a high teen suicide rate the past two years, and amid the spat of homophobia fueled suicides in 2010, began to come up as part of the dialog on volatile issue.

Its interesting to note that the school has, within the past two school years, had 6 suicides that have been linked to sexual orientation and subsequent bullying. Additionally, the school's policy on bullying when it pertains to real or imagined glbt issues is decidedly lackluster:

The Ankoa-Hennepin school district “neutrality” policy has been in place since 1995 and restricts teachers from speaking about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) persons in the classroom. Local teachers have also come forward to speak out against the “neutrality” policy because they say it restricts discussions and enforcement of bullying and harassment polices and does not create a safe school environment often leaving them unable to to help.

The school's policy on neutrality essentially ties the hands of teachers and health professionals in the district and dissuades intervention or any affirmation of those perceived as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender while...not addressing the causal factors of said bullying whatsoever. One of the results? A suicide rate that is quickly becoming one of the highest in the nation, and an apparent apathy about modifying policy enough to counteract it. The policy itself hangs frozen in a strange sort of ideological limbo in which it must attempt impartiality while not actively affirming what could be seen as an endorsement of the "homosexual agenda"(tm). The area's educational professionals expressed some justifiable confusion as to how to proceed, leaving the socio-environmental conditions perpetuating the toxicity of bullying unchecked.

The Justice Department, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, The Southern Poverty Law Center and National Center for Lesbian Rights have all been investigating Anoka-Hennepin since 2010, with the SPLC and NCLR both recently filing suit against the district over the detrimental policy and the hostile social climate of the school district.

The Mother Jones' article by Stephanie Mencimer notes a tactic put to use by area churches looking to counter what they feared were "pro-gay" messages, in which they passed out "Day of Truth" tees and encouraged christian teens to "preach to" those they perceived as gay.

Another volley in the so-called culture wars, but ones with very real, very awful implications for those with the misfortune of being labeled as "other". If we entitle children and justify those that want to enforce school sanctioned repression through bullying, we further perpetuate the meme that some viewpoints and lives are more important than others, which by extension is nowhere near neutrality in my mind.

Above, is a clip from series 5 of the ever trendsetting series Skins. Franky's a troubled, ostracized androgynous teen who has yet to find her place. She makes for some compelling storytelling.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sen. Al Franken: Mythbuster.

Speaking of feeble defenses and mis-apropriated sociological research; Al Franken absolutely dessimates the testimony of Focus of the Family representative's ...rather creative (false) assumptions about the article he sites.

I'm not sure whether to be dismayed or amused at the aftermath of the DOMA exchange above. Especially considering Right Wing Conservatives are still clinging to the belief that the study cited excluded same sex nuclear families and Sen. Franken was flat out wrong.

That is, until the researcher responsible for the study chimed in, claiming that the Senator was correct in reading that nuclear families in this (or any) case meant two parents related to children by adoption or birth, and same sex families were included in the study. Same economic, emotional and psychological benefits. Period. Granted, the Good As You Article above is an indicator cold hard scientific evidence of normalcy isn't useful when countering those with fingers in their ears.

Music by Hey Champ.

On the "Will of the People" (tm)

Boehner says no House vote on DOMA repeal | Washington Blade - America's Leading Gay News Source

Here's an interesting lesson in political jargon. When DADT, Proposition 8 and the recent votes to legalize gay marriage in NY state were major political issues, we'd hear quite consistently how we needed to "Let the people vote!!!". The reason for this is a sheer matter of numbers and social conservative pragmatism, as NOM and the likes assume (narrowly in the case of Proposition 8) that people will invariably vote to suppress the rights of their neighbors should they "disagree with some aspect of their lifestyle choice". They assume- marginally correctly- that (older, more religious) people will find the gays vile enough, and have no network connections to actual gay people and therefore will be more apt to enshrine glbt discrimination into policy (or at least vote in favor of it).

But there's some indication that this assumption can be made less safely now, as the above article makes an interesting distinction:

“A number of House Republicans have told me privately that they feel the same way,” Nadler said. “This, coupled with the fact that there is now a majority of Americans who support equality and with the recent polling data showing that a majority of Republican voters want GOP leadership to give up their position on this matter, means that it is only a matter of time before we act in a bipartisan manner and repeal DOMA. And, believe me, we will keep pushing to get it done until we have succeeded.”

Interestingly, the data from Proposition 8 even showed a gradual sea change on the attitudes of younger Americans towards same sex marriage. Glenn Beck, the afore-reviled Ken Mehlman and other staunch conservative figures have since noted that the vehement traction on the wedge issue is much less there. (With the likes of Mehlman this is of course too little, too late as he's one of the architects of DOMA in the first place.) During the elections that hammered through anti-gay marriage legislation on both the state and federal levels during the Dubya years, the anti-gay rhetoric was turned up to 11, and the "Will of the People" was done; At least according to the staunch conservative policy groups like NOM who make a very handsome living being professional homophobes. Look at the rhetoric being used here: Allowing people to vote on gay rights issues = the will of the people. Not allowing people to vote on DOMA = prudent officiating. Its artifice at its most transparent to suggest that NOM and the American Family Association are interested in the will of people who do not side with them on this issue. For groups like this, their tactics and ploys to perpetuate political inequality are good and noble...but only when they do them. Some of their press on gay rights issues shatters the misconception they push about "just being about preserving marriage" and "not being explicitly anti-gay". NOM's activity, tweets and talking points have long since gone beyond opposite sex marriage and ballooned into full blown completely transparent anti-gay rhetoric. If anyone ever bought the idea that they "merely disagreed over allowing gay people to call it marriage" we can dispense with that naivete now.

The consolation prize is that these issues are nominal in the grand scheme, and ultimately love will win over inequality. I'm confident of that much. The world can be a beautiful, inclusive place, "the kids are allright" and I for one am pleased to see the changes on the horizon for what they are.

Here's some Earworm for you, courtesy of Empire of the Sun- "Walking on a Dream" (Seriously, I'm trying not to adore this song) The original is lovely too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guess We Should Decriminalize Murder Too...

Another gem from the fine folks at GOProud (single handedly providing cover for arch-conservative hubris). An organization that of late has championed Tea Party darling Michelle Bachmann, despite her saying they were "of satan", an organization that falls all over itself to justify the smugly conservative in their disdain for the homosexual. Despite being an organization that is or alleges to be homosexual (Bachmann has argued that the homosexual is "anything but gay"). Have we discussed Uncle Toms, class?

Joe. My. God.: GOProud's LaSalvia: Being Gay-Bashed Proves That Hate Crimes Laws Don't Work

Hm. Good to know. You'll be happy to note that the Department of Justice is now considering throwing out murder laws and the death penalty because they don't prevent some people from committing them.... how do these people get airtime? There are smarter community college students who aren't ever going to see a fraction of the money this appearance makes.

Watch this video (by the Friendly Fires) You'll feel better about the world's suckiness.