If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.

____________________

Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

Advertisements

Question Time


With many thanks to Sean, a friend who pointed out this particular iteration of the morbid spectacle otherwise known as ¡Jesus’ fucking tits! Westboro Baptist Church―see Anna Merlan’s report for Jezebel about the latest Westboro wannabe Christianishesque clodhopping―a certain question arises, a reiteration that occasionally demands address:The Gumbys.

• Is it wrong that I only pay attention to WBC at all anymore because they’re like a comedy troupe performing a Christian version of The Aristocrats? I mean, it’s true: It was cruel of kids in my junior high to encourage the overweight, developmentally impaired kid to do stupid and humiliating things just so people could have a laugh. The Westboro heritage is similar; there is a tinge of guilt about paying attention to anything they do, as if we’re denigrating them just by watching.

Memo to Google: Why You’re Horrible People


To: Google

re: Just admit you suck

As we go from computer to computer, resetting our passwords because you want us to, the question also arises why you won’t let us.

Yeah, we know you “weren’t hacked”, but you are being a bunch of incompetent, insulting assholes.

In the first place, don’t tell us it’s something suspicious about us. Until every last account is verified and you no longer feel the need to demand we jump through these hoops, the message should not be that there is something suspicious about your users. Just tell the truth: “Sorry, but we at Google really, really fucked everything up and we’re really, really sorry for putting you through all of this bullshit like asking to to reset your password on every computer you ever use to get your email, which in turn is why we still like to pretend that you’re suspicious. After all, we’re Google, and we just proved ourselves incompetent, and we recognize that it is really, really wrong of us to treat you like that just because we can’t do our jobs properly.”

And, you know, honesty might help your image. I mean, it’s not like this makes Google employees terrible people. No, that would be the candy-named, botched-up operating system on “smart” (ha!) phones.

Of course, that much you can blame on users; after all, the hideously mistaken decision to trade out an iPhone for an Android was my own, and I damn well should have known better.

But it’s true. Google’s inability to do its job as relates to account management does not make the company’s employees horrible people. Rather, the OS should do the trick. And, you know, in the end, so does the fact that they work for Google.

Your users would be considerably less annoyed with your fuckups if you would just be an honest, decent (corporate) person for once.

That, however, is something we recognize is beyond your faculties. Which, in turn, is why you suck.

The Zuckerberg Atrocity


How about some crass humor?

For some, the costs are higher. In 2010, 12-year-old Amanda Todd bared her chest while chatting online with a person who’d assured her that he was a boy, but was in fact a grown man with a history of pedophilia. For the next two years, Amanda and her mother, Carol Todd, were unable to stop anonymous users from posting that image on sexually explicit pages. A Facebook page, labeled “Controversial Humor,” used Amanda’s name and image—and the names and images of other girls—without consent. In October 2012, Amanda committed suicide, posting a YouTube video that explained her harassment and her decision. In April 2014, Dutch officials announced that they had arrested a 35-year-old man suspected to have used the Internet to extort dozens of girls, including Amanda, in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The suspect now faces charges of child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment, and Internet luring.

† † †

Hildur Lilliendahl Viggósdóttir, decided to draw attention to similar problems by creating a page called “Men who hate women,” where she reposted examples of misogyny she found elsewhere on Facebook. Her page was suspended four times—not because of its offensive content, but because she was reposting images without written permission. Meanwhile, the original postings—graphically depicting rape and glorifying the physical abuse of women—remained on Facebook. As activists had been noting for years, pages like these were allowed by Facebook to remain under the category of “humor.” Other humorous pages live at the time had names like “I kill bitches like you,” “Domestic Violence: Don’t Make Me Tell You Twice,” “I Love the Rape Van,” and “Raping Babies Because You’re Fucking Fearless.”

Thus:

zuck/zucked/zucking: Shorthand term describing online rape threats for the sake of humor; named after Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

'Moneyshot' Mark ZuckerbergRaping Mark Zuckerberg page on Facebook: Why not see how long Facebook lets that one stand as a humor page? Doll up photos of Mark Zuckerberg and have at it.

Taking the Piss: A bit of a twist on the classic English phrase; put photos of Mark Zuckerberg in urinals, snap the photo, post them to a Facebook “humor” page.

Use your imagination: Really, I can’t keep thinking like this. It’s actually uncomfortable. (See below.)

One would think the problems are obvious. To wit, how do we define fair? Do we really think this sort of thing would stay confined to activism? Of course it wouldn’t. And while fair is fair insofar as Zuckerberg is apparently just fine with how things go at Facebook, so why not treat him the same way, isn’t that also kind of the point? It’s wrong to treat any person that way, regardless of how much the Facebook CEO might occasionally look like he’s hoping you don’t get squirt in his face, and please not in the hair. (Spit or swallow?) Poor Mark. But then, billions of dollars do a lot to relieve the stresses of having a conscience.

Then again, it would be a good thing to hear people on television starting to refer to how a person got “zucked”. Shame might be the only way to test whether or not Mark Zuckerberg has a conscience left.

And if you’re confused? Just read through Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly’s article for The Atlantic. There’s a reason Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are atrocities against humanity.

____________________

Buni, Catherine and Soraya Chemaly. “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women”. The Atlantic. 9 October 2014.

Personal Reflections on Politics and Priorities


The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Let us speak of love and life and the beauty of this Universe.

What? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Look, to the one it seems really simple; to the other, we all have people in our lives who will, when they don’t like the obvious implication of an obvious fact, chuff and puff and stutter: “Wh-wha-what? What are you talking about? What does that even mean?” The thing about this behavior is that except for the fact of contention, these people in our lives know damn well what we’re talking about, and if there is any confusion about what it means, they’re certainly tipping their hand by going from zero to attack in zero-point-two-one-seven-three seconds. You know that common tease, “Struck a nerve, there”?

Sometimes it seems tragic: Perceived competitive pressures can seem so permeating in and of the perspectives subscribing to or advocating its processes and outcomes as to inhibit normal, healthy social function. More accessibly: Capitalism escalates mental health risk factors. Or, more generally: People who believe in or advocate the dog eat dog rat race can fall into it so deeply that their social faculties degrade into dysfunction.

And sometimes we think, “Huh? But you knew what this meant yesterday. And you even believed it last week!”

Continue reading

Ghosts in the Making


Summertime in Ferguson

When it was Trayvon Martin, I pitched a fit.

Michael Brown? Not so much.

It’s fair to ask why, and the answer is to simply look at what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri. The twenty-one thousand plus residents have seen their city torn to pieces, body and soul, as protesters and police battle over the murder of an unarmed black man by a city police officer whose record includes being fired as part of another small police department in Jennings, Missouri, that was disbanded by its city council for being so corrupt and generally awful. The town is in chaos; residents are intervening to slow the most vocal protesters, and are also reportedly attempting to prevent media from covering the events. Ferguson has become the latest incarnation of our nation’s sick heritage of deadly racism, emerged as a symbol of our dark slide toward militarized police, and found itself the butt of one of the worst jokes on the planet after a protester tweeted a comparison of the situation there to what is going on in Palestine, and instead of being indignant the Palestinians tweeted back with good-faith advice.

I first addressed the death of Trayvon Martin with friends on March 13, 2012, some weeks after the George Zimmerman stalked and pursued him for no good reason, shooting the seventeen year-old to death and then claiming self-defense. And when I first mentioned it, I did not expect what was coming. Certes, my gorge rose to learn the story, but like so many Americans the idea that an apparently murdered black man will die under the presumption that he needed to be shot just did not seem all that unusual. That is to say, like many I expected Trayvon Martin would become another forgotten lamb.

And, yes, I was wrong.

This time, the nation did not wait weeks. Before the name Michael Brown finished echoing after the first wave of press coverage the town was beseiged by chaos. Screaming and shouting from my evergreen corner of the country really doesn’t do me or anyone else any good.

And, yet, Justice still seems nearly destined for disappointing failure.

Continue reading

Maybe It’s Best I Don’t Have a Dog


Rickey Wagoner

Okay, so my only question is whether all the people who forwarded the inspiring story of Rickey Wagoner around that internet book with faces, and the bird’s nest thing, and all that, are now obliged to go around to every person they annoyed with that excrement and apologize for being so stupid.

At any rate, the Associated Press reports:Rickey Wagoner headline via Mail Online

A white bus driver’s story that a religious book in his shirt pocket blocked bullets as he was attacked by three black men isn’t supported by evidence and testing, Dayton police said Wednesday as they closed the case, which had been investigated as a possible hate crime.

Rickey Wagoner, 49, told police he was outside his city bus Feb. 24 when men assaulted him. He said that two bullets hit the inch-thick book containing Bible verses and that one hit his leg and that he was stabbed in the arm, according to a police report. The report also said Wagoner told police he grabbed the gun and shot at the fleeing men.

Wagoner had told police that the assailants were black and that he thought the attack might have been a gang initiation.

But his account wasn’t found to be factual, Police Chief Richard Biehl said at a news conference.

“This assault, as reported, is not true, not accurate,” Biehl said. Police did not say Wagoner made up the story and didn’t explain why he would have made the report. Biehl did say it appeared Wagoner owed on back taxes.

Sigh.

Right.

Truth told, I rather prefer the Daily Mail take on the story: “Bus driver shot and stabbed HIMSELF before making up story that only his Bible had stopped fatal bullets fired at him in supposed hate attack”.

In related news, the nation’s foremost failure-cum-racist-cum-failure, the one and only Donald Trump, is apparently upset that black people have civil rights, too. In other words, no news, or, what killed the dog.

____________________

Associated Press. “Bus Driver’s Bullet-blocking Book Tale Is ‘Not True’: Police”. The Huffington Post. June 18, 2014.

Associated Press and Daily Mail. “Bus driver shot and stabbed HIMSELF before making up story that only his Bible had stopped fatal bullets fired at him in supposed hate attack”. Mail Online. June 18, 2014.

Trump, Donald. “Donald Trump: Central Park Five settlement is a ‘disgrace'”. New York Daily News. June 21, 2014.

Wills, Nat M. “No News, or, What Killed the Dog?” Camden: Victor, 1908.