Plots and Thoughts

ACORN Pimp Video a Deliberate Fake

Posted in Analysis, Observations, Strategy by Captain Optimistic on February 18, 2010

Just in case you all missed this, have a read:

While O’Keefe is a whackjob and should be in jail, the greater absurdity here is how the media pushed and then defended this story, which anyone who has shame now has to accept was a carefully-edited YouTube propaganda piece reported by every single network as “investigative journalism.”

Anyone who tells you “but ACORN was going to give money to a PIMP” is a fucking idiot, and ought to be corrected right then and there.  The video was a fake:

Harshbarger also shed light on the controversial videos, noting that portions had been “substantially” edited, including some voice overdubbing.

A seriously fucked up fake:

The lying, the media complicity, the vicious racism of O’Keefe and his buddies have been covered elsewhere.  I just want to point out what vicious misogynists they are, too.  They went out of their way to turn people’s kindness towards marginalized women into a bad thing. When they encountered decent human beings who take responsibility when asked for help to stop violence against women, they brimmed over with hate for those people, and they set out to destroy them.  And while they think kindness towards prostitutes is a weakness, and violence against women is a joke, they exploited the public’s horror at sex trafficking and violence against women to slur people who were the only people in the room who actually had a problem with violence against women.

That is some fucked-up, woman-hating shit.

It is indeed.  Don’t doubt that conservatives will continue to use it as a weapon.  That is their mistake.  It is a weakness, and the second you see it exposed pounce and use it to give them a merciless ethical thrashing.

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When Schools Bully Suicide Victims

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

Our national paranoia about sex causes suffering.  Suffering can lead to suicide.  TampaBay via Feministing:  A girl sends a nude picture of herself to a boy she likes.  A girl who felt threatened gets the boy’s phone and shares the text.  Soon her classmates are bullying her.  How does her school respond?

School authorities learned of the nude photo around the end of the school year and suspended Hope for the first week of eighth grade, which started in August. About two weeks after she returned to school, a counselor observed cuts on Hope’s legs and had her sign a “no-harm” contract, in which Hope agreed to tell an adult if she felt inclined to hurt herself, her family says. The next day, Hope hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 13.

Part of the pain of bullying comes from the feelings of isolation, guilt, and worthlessness it engenders.  How would you feel if your school, the very people there to nourish and teach you, punish you?  This was a girl who may have been feeling guilt for having sent the text, pain for being punished by her peers, and instead of stepping in and helping the school chose to further punish and isolate her.

The school bears direct responsibility for her death.  We all bear a responsibility to speak up, always and with strength, against turning sexuality into a thing of shame.  The obsession with slut-shaming and punishing girls for their sexuality has dire consequences.

Musings on Israel and Palestine

Posted in Musings by Captain Optimistic on November 30, 2009

I was talking with a friend about Israel, and he did something uncharacteristic.  He tried to shut down the debate.  He did so using a few problematic arguments.  Arguments I would like to take a look at before adding in my own thoughts on Israel and Palestine.

Tax Dollars and Speech

J made the point that since my tax dollars go towards supporting Israel’s violence towards the Palestinians, I couldn’t talk about “opposing violence”.  This is a pretty easy argument to defeat.  J opposes the Iraqi war, yet his tax dollars go towards its support.  Would anyone say he ought to shut up about his opposition?  Of course not.  It is vital we speak our minds, especially when our tax dollars go towards a cause we deem unjust.

Privilege and Violence

J then pointed out that the Palestinians were under attack, and I was speaking from the position of “Extreme Privilege” in condemning their violence.  Ironically, this is the exact same argument the Israeli government uses to justify its attacks on Palestinians!  J is hardly living under threat, from missiles or bombs, Palestinians or Israelis.  We share in this privilege, but it does not bind us to silence.  If anything it compels us to educate ourselves and seek to impact the situation positively.  Privilege is a blindfold, not a perpetual state of being.  We must first realize we are blind, but then we must tear off the blindfold as best we can and see!

Knowledge and Speech

J Finally said he didn’t have time to educate me, and I ought to “go do some critical thinking”.  This reminds me of a professor I had in college, who used to attack students whose viewpoints he disagreed with by lambasting them for “not having done the reading” (even when they had).  It also reminds me of a student of my own.  After establishing she had political viewpoints after all, I asked why she didn’t express them.  She responded that she didn’t feel she knew enough to have a voice.

One must always have a voice.  Knowledge is not a prerequisite for taking part in the discourse of society.  It is a desirable thing of course.  But too often knowledge is transformed into agreeable knowledge.  That is, the right kind of knowledge according to a particular point of view.  So I was told to read books that supported J’s viewpoint (no mention of those that opposed it).

Discussion as Democratic Vitality

Regardless of one’s viewpoints, it is essential to the health of Democratic discourse that we work to increase, not shut down, communication.  The Israel Palestine problem is huge, and one we all have an interest in seeing solved peaceably and sustainably.  We need to be finding ways to open channels of communication.  Especially when it comes to this issue.

OK OK, Where do YOU Stand?

I support a single secular state.  I don’t think two theocratic states prone to violence in close proximity is a recipe for success.  I think Israel-Palestine’s promise is in becoming a force for peace and an advocate for the oppressed.  I consider both the Israeli and Palestinian people to be a part of my heritage, and get excited thinking about the wonderful things they could accomplish together.

When it comes to guilt and responsibility, I find that both sides use violence, both sides kill the innocent, and both sides employ lies and propaganda to further their aims.  Being the state carries with it a higher responsibility, and Israel needs to step up.

I cannot say whether or not I would be moved to commit acts of violence if I were in their shoes.  What I can say is that as long as that violence continues it will make the situation ever worse, and consume the very blood of the innocent those acts of violence were meant to protect or avenge.

What do you think?

Using Tasers on Children

Posted in Analysis, Observations by Captain Optimistic on November 18, 2009

Feministing reports that a taser had been used on a 10 year old girl.  From MyEyeWitnessNews:

A police officer in a small Arkansas town used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl after he said her mother gave him permission to do so. Now the town’s mayor is calling for an investigation into whether the Taser use was appropriate.

Uh, NO IT WAS NOT.  There, that was a quick investigation.

“We didn’t use the Taser to punish the child – just to bring the child under control so she wouldn’t hurt herself or somebody else,” Noggle said.

If the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg, Noggle said.

By using a taser the accident could very well have been death.

Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser, said it’s up to individual law enforcement agencies to decide when Taser use is appropriate.

In some cases, a Taser “presents the safer response to resistance compared with the alternatives such as fists, kicks, baton strikes, bean bag guns, chemical agents, or canine response,” Tuttle said in a statement.

Are we to suppose the police officer might have used chemical agents on a child of 10?!

The context in which the taser was used was complex and difficult, to be sure.  But it seems like as we learn more and more about how very deadly tasers are (to the point their manufacturer now warns about where on the body to target), we are becoming more cavalier about their use.

This when we need to become more critical, especially of their usage on vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

Keep in mind when reading that in this case, the mother of the child consented to the taser being used.

Must Read: On Fighting Terrorism

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on November 18, 2009

There is a must read article on fighting terrorism over at Salon:

In other words, the very policies the U.S. has been pursuing in the name of combating Terrorism — invading, occupying, and bombing Muslim countries; locking them up without trials; torturing them; violating the values we’ve been preaching to the world — have been the most potent instruments for fueling Islamic radicalism and terrorism.  By contrast, those who have been continuously accused of being “soft on Terrorism” and even being allied with the Terrorists — those who opposes our various wars, who demanded and provided basic human rights protections and equal liberties to Muslims, who objected to their own governments’ oppressive and belligerent policies — have done more to diffuse and impede Muslim radicalism than virtually anyone else in the world.

Quite a few useful insights to bring to the table when discussing terrorism and the most effective response.

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Sao Paulo – This is What Theocracy Looks Like

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on November 17, 2009

Roman Catholic Sao Paulo, Brazil, has decided to give us Americans a jolly preview of theocracy in action:

Outrage over female sexuality?  Check:

A video showed Arruda sitting in a classroom in a mid-thigh length red dress, then six military police officers protecting her as she left the campus wearing a white jacket. A line of students stood by chanting “whore.”

Another video showed a mob stopping and kicking her car and blocking her when she tried to escape on foot.

In fact, violence over female sexuality.

Uniban said it had also suspended a number of students identified by video footage and witness accounts of taking part in the violence last month. The university’s legal advisor said Arruda had been expelled for “gestures” and “attitudes” she had manifested rather than because of her short outfits. He would not give details.

Of course he wouldn’t give details.  He’s full of shit.

There’s something deeply wrong with people who get angry and violent over the sexuality of others.  There is also something deeply wrong with a belief system that encourages the transformation of the natural into the hated and feared.

So much of religious conservatism is about denying the aspects of human sexuality that go against painstakingly constructed myths – the same myths used as social livestock fencing for centuries.

When we go beyond rules of civilization and morality to deny who we are and what we allow our neighbors to be we provide the kindling the hate and violence.  These kinds of beliefs are fundamentally at odds with equality and justice.

How could anyone believe they were born of a divine source?

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