Ferguson heartbreak.

Today is a sad day. No, I did not expect the grand jury to indict Darren Wilson; that would have been contra everything I know about U.S. jurisprudence and the racist rot at the heart of vast swaths of American culture.

I am continually astonished that so many of my fellow whites shrug it off (or worse) while the state targets, brutalizes and incarcerates people in numbers that dwarf the rest of the world—and people of color, already among our most marginalized and impoverished citizens, make up a wildly disproportionate percentage of them. Not just disproportionate to their percentage of the general population, disproportionate to the number of whites (including cops) who commit the exact same offenses with impunity. Susan McGraugh, a criminal defense lawyer and professor at the St. Louis University School of Law points out:

Officer Wilson got preferential treatment. I represent only poor people, and he was given a lot of courtesies that my clients have not. I can guarantee you that if one of my clients had killed somebody with a gun, they would have been arrested and they’d have been charged. And they would have either had to post bond or sit in jail while the grand jury deliberated on their case.

This explains both why whites generally tend to have faith in the criminal “justice” system, and precisely why they should not. And just like our murderous for-profit health care system, imprisonment has been very profitably privatized, once again to the disproportionate detriment of people of color. And compounding all of these injustices, after serving their time ex-convicts are further disenfranchised and marginalized: in many places they are legally denied housing and other public benefits, jobs are virtually unattainable and they are prohibited from voting—for life. Is it really such a mystery why so many return to crime? Ask yourself who benefits from these policies. Christ, even these hateful assholes preach that once a person has been punished, they are not to be penalized further: doing so is not “Christian”—or at least, not biblical—which is really saying something, my friends.

I saw with my own eyes (mostly white) Occupy protesters surveilled, harassed and arrested by NYPD for being in a park; and from the relative safety of my apartment, I observed with growing horror the escalating police assaults and brutality, including pepper spraying and tear-gassing captive people who could not escape police cordons. It was not lost on me then or now that this is exactly what it’s like to live in many black and brown communities every single day.

Except the occupiers were not being routinely slaughtered in the streets.

Not this time, anyway.

The injustice of killer police (and police rapists and citizen vigilantes) going free should outrage every person of conscience. But even if you’re just a run-of-the-mill narcissistic shitweasel—i.e., conservative—if you think a militarized police and surveillance state could never come gunning for you, you are terrifyingly ignorant of all of history—including the recent history of the United States.

R.I.P. Michael Brown. May this day mark a turning point in the broader culture, for all of us.

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Recommended reading from the Palace Library:

See also:

Reads.

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“Down Outright Murder”: A Complete Guide to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson. Devereaux, R., The Intercept (Nov. 2014).

After 13 years, 2 wars and trillions in military spending, terrorist attacks are rising sharply. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

As Sioux Tribe Calls Keystone XL an “Act of War”, TransCanada Hires PR Firm to Probe Critics. Democracy Now! (Nov. 2016) (with VIDEO).

Topless Femen deface Christian cross in Vatican. RT.com (Nov. 2014) (with VIDEO). (“Femen have taken their brash form of activism to shockingly new heights (or depths), simulating anal sex with crucifixes outside the Vatican to protest the Pope’s alleged meddling in politics.”) [Hahaha. Awesome. For a…different take, which I first thought was satire, see here. -Ed.]

Insecure Men Outraged That Smarter Man Recognizes Sexism And Apologizes to Women. Opal, K. (Nov. 2014). (“This is no longer about Matt & Rosetta. This is now about men being outraged that women made Matt reconsider…Matt Taylor apologized and moved on. But it seems that a lot of men were pissed off that a man apologized to women for having done something that perpetuated sexism.”)

Black students walk out over school official’s tweet: ‘Every white girl’s father’s worst nightmare’. Edwards, D., Raw Story (Nov. 2014). [Jeezus. -Ed.]

Lack of access to health insurance keeps U.S. premature birth rate near Somalia’s. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014). [USA! USA! USA! -Ed.]

Barbie F*cks It Up Again. Ribon, P., Gizmodo (Nov. 2014) [OMFG. LOL! -Ed.]
(related: Barbie computer engineer story withdrawn after sexism row.)

Surprise! The war on abortion rights is actually a referendum on women’s “place” in society. A group of protesters explain why they believe motherhood is the only and most important choice for women. McDonough, K., Salon (Nov. 2014) (with VIDEO). [Wow! I am so surprised! -Ed.]

The Rehtaeh Parsons Verdict Just Set a Horrible Precedent for Rape Victims Everywhere. Plank, E., Mic (Nov. 2014).

Transgender activists seek laws, acceptance, to combat violence. Guilbert, K., Reuters (Nov. 2014).

Congress Is Irrelevant on Mass Surveillance. Here’s What Matters Instead. Greenwald, G., The Intercept (Nov. 2014).

Sexual Surveillance of Women is a Consequence of Conservative Norms, Not Liberal Social Mores. Chemaly, S., Huffington Post (Nov. 2014).

Canadian Mother Gives Birth While On Vacation In The U.S., Faces $1 Million Hospital Bill. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Nov. 2014).

A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Erdely, S.R., Rolling Stone (Nov. 2014).

Geckos inspire ‘Spider-Man’ gloves. BBC News (Nov. 2014).

Who Profits From Poverty? Films for Action/The #GlobalPOV Project (Nov. 2014) (VIDEO). [h/t nubs]

Why No One Can Design a Better Speculum. Eveleth, R., The Atlantic (Nov. 2014). (“The gynecological device may have an ethically fraught history, but it’s hard to improve on the design.”)

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For the Quote collection:

A lot of times, the simple answer to the specious question, “Why would he do something like that?” is, horribly, “Because he can.” -Melissa McEwan

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Palace flags at half mast for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance (“TDoR”), a day to memorialize and mourn those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, and to call attention to the violence endured by those in the transgender community. Hundreds of transgender people are killed every year, and many more live in constant fear of assault and abuse. Then there is the astonishingly high rate of lifetime suicide attempts: 41 percent, an order of magnitude greater than the rate of the U.S. population overall (4.6 percent) and two to four times higher than lesbian, gay and bisexual adults (10-20 percent). Sadly but unsurprisingly, race and poverty correlate with even higher risk, as does rejection by loved ones and experiencing other forms of discrimination, victimization, or violence:

Family chose not to speak/spend time with them: 57%

Discrimination, victimization, or violence at school, at work, and when accessing health care
• Harassed or bullied at school (any level): 50-54%
• Experienced discrimination or harassment at work: 50-59%
• Doctor or health care provider refused to treat them: 60%
• Suffered physical or sexual violence:
   — At work: 64-65%
   — At school (any level): 63-78%

Discrimination, victimization, or violence by law enforcement
• Disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers: 57-61%
• Suffered physical or sexual violence: By law enforcement officers: 60-70

Experienced homelessness: 69%

Transwomen in particular report shunning and exclusion even within queer communities. In a powerful essay, Remembering Us When We’re Gone, Ignoring Us While We’re Here: Trans Women Deserve More, Morgan Collado writes of appalling treatment by the very community where by all rights she should feel welcome and embraced. “How can I even see hope of living a full life,” she asks, “when I don’t see myself reflected in what is supposed to be my community?”

I am not trans, so it is impossible for me to fully understand what it is like to live with the hate and oppression that drives so many to self-harm. But I do want to be a good ally and advocate where I can. To that end, I am very much in Shut Up and Listen mode—which, frankly, is where we all should be with respect to any axis of oppression that we do not personally experience. If you have similar aspirations, the Trans* Awareness Project is a good place to start, the blog of Zinnia Jones is wonderful, and there are many links to additional resources in the Palace Bedroom under the heading Gender & Sexual Orientation.

One thing I can do is yield the floor and signal boost Morgan Collado’s list of fundraisers that could very much use your support:

Fundraisers to Cover Living Expenses

Backing Biko
Support Cherno Biko in advocating for folks like us!

Love Aaryn
Help Aaryn reach her dreams!

Support CeCe
Support CeCe’s work!

Lift Up Lourdes
Support a trans leader!

Save Fake Cis Girl from Financial Apocalypse
Help a trans woman of color keep her lights on!

Support Monica Roberts
Help Monica stave off homelessness!

Operation Zipzap
Help a trans woman go to electrolysis school!

Support Michelle
Help Michelle get money to go to school!

Miss Major Monthly Giving Circle
Help support a TWOC elder and living legend!

Fundraisers to Cover Transition Related Care

TRANLATIN@ needs HELP for Surgery
Help a Pervuian trans women get access to gender affirming surgery!

Support Vanessa on her medical need
Help Vanessa get chest reconstruction surgery!

Proud Trans Latina seeking help with GRS
Help Naiymah get access to gender affirming surgery!

Sophia’s Breast Fund
Help Sophia access breast augmentation surgery!

Help a Homegirl out!
Help a trans latina get access to transition related care.

Ida’s Surgery Fund
Help writer and activist Ida access surgery!

Fundraisers for Organizations that Serve Trans Women

Support the TWOC Collective
The TWOC Collective in NYC needs your support!

Alexis Documentary
Help a documentary about a trans woman activist get off the ground!

MagniFLY!
Donate to support TWOC filmmakers!

Trans Tech
Support an organization giving trans women the tools to support themselves!

Quirell
Help a social network by and for marginalized folks get started!

El/La Para Trans Latinas
Help fund an organization working to advocate for trans latinas!

Trans Latina Coalition
Support an organization doing national movement work!

Support Casa Ruby
Help a community center stay afloat!

See also: this documentary about Marsha P. Johnson:

This feature-length documentary focuses on revolutionary trans-activist, Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, a Stonewall instigator, Andy Warhol model, drag queen, sex worker, starving actress, and Saint. “Pay It” captures the legendary gay/human rights activist as she recounts her life at the forefront of The Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, the creation of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera in the ’70s, and a New York City activist throughout the ’80s and early ’90s. Through her own words, as well as in-depth interviews with gay activist Randy Wicker, former Cockettes performer Agosto Machado, Author Michael Musto, Hot Peaches founder/performer, Jimmy Camicia, and Stonewall Activists Bob Kohler, Danny Garvin, Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, and Martin Boyce, Marsha’s story lives on.

And I feel this post would not be complete without a shout-out to transwoman Chelsea Manning, an American hero presently serving 35 years in a U.S. prison for exposing many illegal acts, corrupt and duplicitous practices and war crimes committed by the United States government for the benefit of America’s Owners. As Loyal Readers™ well know, Manning is also the Palace’s officially endorsed candidate for Vice President of the United States in 2016. As I noted on Veterans Day:

As of April 23, 2014, a Kansas district judge has approved her request for legal name change (from Bradley), and you can now address mail envelopes to her as “Chelsea E. Manning.” For the cost of a stamp you can write to her.

NOTE: mail must be addressed exactly as follows:

CHELSEA E. MANNING     89289
1300 NORTH WAREHOUSE ROAD
FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS 66027-2304

Seriously, no joke:

  • Do not include a hash (“#”) in front of Manning’s inmate number.
  • Do not include any title in front of Manning’s name, such as “Ms.,” “Mr.,” “PVT,” “PFC,” etc.
  • Do not include any additional information in the address, such as “US Army” or “US Disciplinary Barracks.”
  • Do not modify the address to conform to USPS standards, such as abbreviating “North,” “Road,” “Fort,” or “Kansas.”
  • For international mail, either “USA” or “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are acceptable on a separate line.

For more information about restrictions on content, see here (or the blog of her lawyer David Coombs). The Chelsea Manning Support Network is also raising funds for her legal fees; you can also donate to her prison account, which she can use to make phone calls, buy stamps and purchase other small comfort items. Be sure to at least sign the petition to President Obama demanding a pardon for Manning—a simple action guaranteed to be just as irritating to him as it is futile!

snowdenmanning2016

BREAKING: Richard Dawkins, bullied and suppressed.

Richard Dawkins is the REAL victim here:

“I feel muzzled, and a lot of other people do as well. There is a climate of bullying, a climate of intransigent thought police which is highly influential in the sense that it suppresses people like me.”

This poor multimillionaire with millions of supporters is bullied and suppressed, people. And yet! He bravely keeps right on talking. On his book tour. To media outlets all over the world. And on Twitter:

dawkinsshirttweetDo not blame feminism for the pompous idiots whining about a Rosetta scientist’s shirt. True feminism is bigger and better than that. @RichardDawkins

discodawkins

 

“I don’t take back anything that I’ve said,” Dawkins said… “I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being misunderstood… ”

Misunderstood! Somehow, we have gotten the professional communicator all wrong!

“He stands by everything he has said — including comments that one form of rape or pedophilia is “worse” than another, and that a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate.”

Oh. Wait, what? It sure seems like we understood him perfectly…but that cannot be! He says so himself! Oooh, I know: maybe this is some of that “11th-dimensional chess” I’ve heard so much about, and he is actually WINNING FEMINISM by brilliantly deploying the same discredited rape culture tropes that have plagued sexual assault victims for millennia.

Yes. That must be it.

Recent reads.

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German village plays prank on neo-Nazis. Halser, M., YNet News (Nov. 2014). (“Residents of Wunsiedel, where Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess is buried, are tired of yearly invasion of neo Nazis to their village, so they decide neo-Nazis can march for a good cause.”)

4 workers die after chemical leak at Texas plant. SFGate (Nov. 2014).

‘The Princess Bride’ Just Got A Hilarious Feminist Makeover. Vagianos, A., The Huffington Post (Nov. 2014). [“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You denied my mother equal pay. Prepare to be on the wrong side of history. #feministprincessbride” LMAO. -Ed.]

Women who have sex before marriage are like ‘filthy dishrags,’ California pastor roars. Gettys, T., Raw Story (Nov. 2014). [FYI Filthy Dishrags is the name of my new fake band. -Ed.]

Double Jeopardy: In Alabama, a judge can override a jury that spares a murderer from the death penalty. Williams, P., The New Yorker (Nov. 2014). [This is beyond fucked-up. -Ed.]

The Massive Feminist Protest the English-Speaking World Completely Ignored. O’Hara, M.E., Mic (Oct. 2014). (“you didn’t read that Wednesday’s Vaga De Totes (“Everything Strike”) brought together more than 600 different feminist and community groups over the course of a year of organizing that culminated in one riot grrrl-like takeover of Barcelona.” Well we don’t want the English-speaking laydeez getting any silly ideas. -Ed.]

Scalia on retirees losing their health insurance: “I can’t feel bad about it.” Boeckmann, T., Alliance for Justice (Nov. 2014). [Hahaha. What can a fucking sociopath feel bad about? I mean besides the Corporation-People, and especially their important religious rights. -Ed.]

Victims Of Online Threats Say Perpetrators Aren’t Being Caught. Sydell, L., NPR (Nov. 2014).

Why women who are sexually assaulted remain silent. Renzetti, E., The Globe and Mail (Oct. 2014).

Christian Kids Dying Because Their Parents Refuse Medical Treatment — And It’s Perfectly Legal. Garcia, A., AlterNet (Nov. 2014). [FREEDOM™! -Ed.]

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Funny times with Forced Birthers.

Jill Filipovic has a good piece up in Cosmopolitan (yes, that Cosmopolitan) entitled Abortion Clinic Protesters: “Sidewalk Counselors” or “Sidewalk Terrorists”? It covers the usual rabid theocrats and misogynist circus clowns, and it documents (as we already know) that these assholes are not driven by “baby killing” per se, they are really railing against women (and others) having non-church sanctioned, non-procreative sex. I have never understood this motivation personally because that is, quite obviously I would think, the best kind of sex to have. Nevertheless, this particular attitude, incomprehensible as it may be, explains why Forced Birthers are also dead set against birth control—which would, you know, actually reduce abortions.

Now maybe this is because I have a terrible fucking head cold, a hacking cough and a fever (OMG! EBOLA!) but for whatever reason I found the clinic protesters interviewed for this article hilarious. Don’t get me wrong—they are as rage-inducing as ever, and I still loathe each and every one of them with the burning fire of ten thousand suns. But this, my friends, is comic gold:

“[Women] had equality,” [demonstrator Fred] Delouis says about the 1950s, before Supreme Court cases legalized contraception and abortion. “But they had to be obedient to their husbands. That’s where equality comes: where the mother stayed home and raised the children in God’s light, and the husband worked, and everything was great. When I grew up, there were no problems.”

Equality, y’all! EVERYTHING was GREAT! And there were NO PROBLEMS…for Fred! LOL!

And Fred just keeps the hits right on coming:

“Society was great before they had abortions,” he says. “Because there wasn’t as much evil in the world.”

Did you know World War II happened after Roe v. Wade? HAHAHA!

“They weren’t murdering God’s babies, which is the most important thing.”

Silly Fred! Abortions are actually helping God murder his babies, because if there’s one thing we all know God loves, it’s murdering his babies! If 50% of pregnancies spontaneously abort, obviously clinics are just doing some of God’s baby murderin’ work for him! You would think Fred would show a little more enthusiasm and gratitude. He can be pretty funny, but I think he’s a little confused.

Then there’s the Death D00d:

Inside the clinic, Deb Fenton, regional director of Central and Western Massachusetts Planned Parenthood, peers out the window, looking for one of the regular protesters who shows up in an Angel of Death costume. “Is the Grim Reaper out there today?” she asks.

Excellent! I want to hang around Grim Reaper d00d while wearing my trademark bloody coat hanger dress—always a big hit at parties. I had been thinking of festooning it with bloody doll parts around the coat hanger anyway, and I feel this would nicely complement the whole “bloody dismembered fetus” theme they’ve got going on their posters and signage. I’ll fit right in! It’ll be a hoot!

Then there’s Ruth:

“I consider my profession having been a mother and a grandmother,” Ruth says, adding that her children agree with her values: two of her daughters got pregnant out of wedlock, one in high school, and both placed their children for adoption.

Oh, Ruth. Priceless!

And the lovely Nancy Clark:

“Abstinence,” Clark says. “It’s possible. I taught my daughters abstinence. It doesn’t mean I’ve been successful with my first two, but I have three more to go.”

Third time’s the charm? Bwahahahaha!

facepalmstartrekClark says that after marriage, “natural family planning” is the only way to go. And she’s mystified by its lack of popularity:

“You can’t even get Catholics to use it,” she says. “It does work though. Of course, I have nine kids.”

Stop it Nancy! You’re killin’ me!

facepalmClark testified in the Supreme Court’s recent clinic buffer zone case—presumably under penalty of perjury—that:

“close personal communication” in a “kind, gentle voice” was her preferred method of approaching women, and that “speaking in a raised voice, shouting or yelling is counterproductive.”

Once the shitheads on the high court struck down the clinic buffer zone law (a unanimous decision, by the way, issued from the safety and comfort of the court’s own 200 foot buffer zone), Clark now enjoys having more options of where she can approach women in a “kind, gentle voice.”

“Instead of yelling from here,” she says, gesturing across the street to the clinic, “I get to yell from over there.”

What a scream! (<—Hahaha. Sometimes I crack myself up.)

Next, meet Father Andrew Beauregard, a Franciscan monk—i.e. a celibate d00d (at least we hope…). He’s here to helpfully ‘splain everything you need to know about wimmenz lives:

“The fullness of being a woman is being a mother.”

And here I thought the fullness of being a woman was me eating too much of Frankie’s pizza. Huh. So I guess the fullness of being a man is being a daddy? Then why the fuck are you here yellin’ at pregnant people instead of making the babies? Dust that thing off and get to work, Father. God needs more babies to murder!

“For a woman to say that she has to have control over her body or over herself in such a way that she can’t be a mother really speaks to a degradation towards women.”

Conversely, compulsory childbirth is in no way degrading to women! I can’t stand it! This guy is a fucking pisser!

Protesters also told Filipovic they had a “save” the week before: that is, they convinced a man (*ahem*) to convince his girlfriend to leave the clinic:

Recounting their “save,” Meija and Pablo say the woman was going to terminate because her boyfriend had another girlfriend and had also fathered children with other women. But, they say, the boyfriend didn’t want the abortion from the beginning and after he promised he would support the baby, she came out of the clinic crying, and they walked away together.

Well that sure sounds like a win for everyone!

“We saw them together,” Pablo says. “That’s the most great thing — to see them together as a family.”

Remember, people, this is all about traditional family values: one d00d, his two girlfriends, plus a bunch of kids he’s had with other women. The MOST GREAT THING. Probably ever! Tee-hee-hee!

There is one thing I don’t get, though: if you’re so content with the choices you’ve made in your own life, what the hell are you doing spending your days harassing and yelling at other people for making choices of their own? I thought this would go without saying, but nine kids just isn’t for everybody. Hell, marriage isn’t for everyone, either. Just ask Father Beauregard about that!

It never occurred to me before, but I’m starting to think maybe they do it for the lulz.

Recent reading.

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Jehovah’s Witness leader complains: Gay people are plotting to put everyone in ‘tight pants’. Garcia, A., Raw Story (Nov. 2014). (LOLOL! -Ed.)

Petitioning Girl Scouts of the USA: Re-model the Barbie brand Girl Scout doll to be realistic. Chiu, K., change.org (Nov. 2014). (“I was so upset to see the new official Girl Scout Barbie — a doll that does not represent the diversity or mission of the Girl Scouts, and which, of all possible things, is dressed in high-heeled hiking boots.” WHAT. -Ed.)

New York City police will stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession. Francescani, C., Reuters via Raw Story (Nov. 2014).

Notes from a Pornographer on Sexist Sexual Imagery and Behavior. Christina, C., Freethoughtblogs (Nov. 2014). (“The idea that sex-positivity and sexual liberation means everybody expressing every sexual thought and acting on every sexual desire, the minute it pops into our heads — this is bullshit.”)

The Psychology of Spanking. [No, not the fun kind. -Ed.] (“eliminating corporal punishment of children is ‘a key strategy for reducing and preventing all forms of violence in societies.’”)

How the drug war blocked research into a promising experimental PTSD therapy​: ecstasy. Ehrenfreund , M., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014). (“Initial research suggests MDMA, used in the party drug ecstasy, could be a powerful treatment for veterans dealing with the trauma of war.”)

The flying of unauthorized drones at stadiums prompts safety concerns. Whitlock, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

Buy Your Daughter All the Butch Dolls You Want, She Still Won’t Be Able to Get an Abortion in Texas. Vargas-Cooper, N., The Intercept (Nov. 2014). (“We should disabuse ourselves of old ideas, especially this hold-over notion from the baby-boomer generation that somehow social institutions can be jammed, subverted, reformed, or overthrown through buying stuff.”)

MIT’s Crazy Materials Could Make for Self-Assembling Ikea Furniture. Flaherty, J., Wired (Nov. 2014).

Why Washington Continues to Beat the War and Disease Drums: Escalation is now a structural fact embedded in the war in the Middle East and the Ebola crisis here at home. Engelhardt, T., The Nation (Nov. 2014).

Clashes at protest over Mexico student deaths: Masked protesters, demonstrating over suspected killing of 43 students in September, clash with riot police in Acapulco. Al Jazeera (Nov. 2014).

The Tiny Police Department in Southern Oregon That Plans to End Campus Rape. Van Syckle, K., The Cut (Nov. 2014).

Soleá, the Flamenco of Seville. The New Yorker (Nov. 2014). [VIDEO.]

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Andrew Sullivan: FREE SPEECH™ of straight white d00ds dooooomed by evil feminists.

andrewsullivanPortrait of Andrew Sullivan

by Iris Vander Pluym
oil on canvas, 30 ft. x 50 ft.
$10 million

[TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of sexist, racist and other problematic language.]

[UPDATE: cross-posted at Secular Woman.]

Friends, I am sorry to report that FREE SPEECH™ is, for all intents and purposes, dead. And not just in Dawkinsland either, where Richard and his fellow…what’s the word?… “rationalists” I believe they call themselves, are at this very moment cowering in abject fear of no exaggeration witch hunts, actual Inquisitions and literal Orwellian Thought Police. As I’m sure we can all imagine, that is exactly what it is like being rebuked for saying factually wrong or long-debunked shit on Twitter—or worse, being informed that you’ve just said something harmful to people who are not you. Can you even imagine? Thankfully, Dawkins & Co. keep on bravely fighting the good fight for FREE SPEECH™ for all of us, by brilliantly deploying the tried-and-true tactic of repeating rape culture tropes that have plagued sexual assault victims for millennia. THOUGHT EXPERIMENTIN’! BREAKIN’ TABOOS! PHILOSOPHIZIN’! ‘SPLAININ’ LOGIC! If that doesn’t make feminists shut the fuck up, surely nothing will. I mean, what is the point of even having FREE SPEECH™ if other people are going to actually criticize things you say?

But this terrifying campaign of violent censorship has now gone far beyond even that. Andrew Sullivan, “conservative-libertarian” columnist, reports with alarm that “The SJWs Now Get To Police Speech On Twitter.” For the uninitiated, “SJW” stands for Social Justice Warrior, i.e., a person who advocates for equality and against bigotry and oppression with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. (Believe it or not, SJW is actually meant as derogatory slur.) So what exactly are these jack-booted thugs doing to end FREE SPEECH™ on Twitter?

Well, a group called WAM! (Women, Action & the Media) has just entered into a pilot program in collaboration with Twitter intended to address the epidemic of gender-based harassment and abuse plaguing the platform. The purpose is to “learn about what kind of gendered harassment is happening on Twitter, how that harassment intersects with other kinds of harassment (racist, transphobic, etc.), and which kinds of cases Twitter is prepared (and less prepared) to respond to.” WAM! will work with Twitter to track the data and improve their responses. The way it works is pretty straightforward: if you’re being harassed on Twitter, you fill out this form on the WAM! site. Once they verify your information, they escalate it a.s.a.p. directly to Twitter, and try to get you a quick resolution. WAM! makes clear right on the form that they can only advocate: they have neither the authority nor the ability to make decisions or take any action on behalf of Twitter.

Just to be clear: we are not talking here about hurt fee-fees because somebody tweeted something mean at me and now I haz a sad. We are talking about relentless threats of violent rape and gruesome death, some credible enough that recently at least three women have been driven from their own homes. We are talking about violations of federal law under 18 U.S. Code § 875(c), which provides that “Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” In New York State, we are talking about a class A misdemeanor under § 120.50(3), or depending on the circumstances, possibly a class E or D felony. In a case like Zerlina Maxwell’s, we are also talking about a hate crime subject to enhanced sentencing. And more to the point, we are talking about violations of Twitter’s own terms of service, which Twitter itself has proven unable to enforce.

This is the FREE SPEECH™ hill that Andrew Sullivan is prepared to die on.

If you think about it, it’s actually kind of shitty that a nonprofit like WAM! has to step in and do this work for Twitter (to say nothing of local, state and federal law enforcement). But to Twitter’s credit, this certainly represents a step in the right direction, and one with the potential to lead to in-house reforms.

But not for Andrew Sullivan. Oh, no. He is filled with the foreboding sense that this unholy alliance between WAM! and Twitter portends the end of FREE SPEECH™ as we know it. In his mind, “Twitter has empowered leftist feminists to have a censorship field day.” And Sullivan does not like these lefty-feminists one bit, no siree! So much so that he imagines—naturally based on no evidence whatsoever—that WAM!s actual Sooper Seekrit Agenda™ is ultimately enforcing “gender quotas for all media businesses, equal representation for women in, say, video-games, gender parity in employment in journalism and in the stories themselves.” Gender quotas! LOL! Also: simply stating the demonstrable fact that straight, white males have overwhelmingly dominated public discourse is disparaging straight white males as a group. And sure, WAM! may say their mission is to advocate for the inclusion of more diverse and historically marginalized voices in media, but Andrew Sullivan ain’t buying it: “WAM can get to advance their broader ideas about policing the speech of white straight males by this legitimizing alliance with Twitter.” WAM!’s real goal, he knows, “is to police and punish others for their alleged sexism.” Never mind that, again, WAM! cannot censor anything, anywhere (except their own web site). Twitter is “handing over the censorship tools to a radical activist group bent on social transformation.”

Obviously, if these terrible lefty feminist censors are not stopped pronto, next thing you know straight white men will be the ones fleeing their homes in fear for their lives. Just like Richard Dawkins.

Seriously, though, the whole rant is wildly entertaining. “Instead of seeing the web as opening up vast vistas for all sorts of voices to be heard,” he writes with comical cluelessness, “they seem to believe it is rigged against female voices.” D00d. In case the fourth paragraph of this very blog post did not adequately demonstrate for you that the web is quite clearly “rigged against female voices,” a recent Pew research study found that (a) women overall are disproportionately targeted by the most severe forms of online abuse, (b) 25 percent of young women have been sexually harassed online, and (c) 26 percent have experienced stalking.

And guess what else? Queer women, women of color, trans women and women with other marginalized identities are especially targeted and abused. Sullivan quotes WAM!’s Jaclyn Friedman:

“I see this as a free speech issue,” Friedman said. She said she knew some would see the work WAM does as “censorship,” but that a completely open and unmoderated platform imposes its own form of censorship. It effectively prevents women, especially queer women and women of color, from getting to speak on the service.

Behold, his insightful retort:

How exactly? Does Twitter prevent women of color from using the service? Or is it simply that WAM believes that women cannot possibly handle the rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech?

Yes, that must be it: it’s feminists who believe women are delicate flowers who cannot possibly handle the “rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech.” Like routine rape and death threats, doxxing (releasing private information such as home addresses, phone numbers, employer, etc. in order to get people to harass women offline, too), libel, hate speech, revenge porn and all sorts of other “rough-and-tumble,” “uninhibited online speech” Sullivan is apparently so invested in protecting. FREE SPEECH™, y’all.

Then he says:

I can find no reason to oppose a stronger effort by Twitter to prevent individual users from stalking or harassing others –

Okay! That’s fantastic. We’re all on board, then.

but

Uh-oh…

if merely saying nasty things about someone can be seen as harassment,

It can’t. Because that’s not actually what the word “harassment” means.

then where on earth does this well-intentioned censorship end? Is it designed to censor only misogyny and not racism?

No, dear. It’s designed to curtail harassment and abuse. And it’s starting with misogynist harassment and abuse, albeit with an intersectional focus (racism, transphobia, etc.). FYI, the group is called Women, Action & Media.

What about blasphemy?

Let’s see. I just tweeted this:

blasphemytweetI await the terrifying Feminazi Stormtroopers who will be smashing in my door any minute, and dragging me away to be burned at the stake with all the “rationalists.”

Of course no one wants to prevent Andrew Sullivan or anyone else from embarrassing themselves on Twitter. I mean, what would we do around here all day without conservatives providing a steady stream of hilarious blog fodder? Unfortunately, how these nefarious evildoers at WAM! will accomplish all of their evildoing by forwarding misogynist harassment complaints to some people at Twitter is left unstated by Sullivan. But I’ll definitely be bringing it up at next week’s regular meeting of the White-Straight-Man-Hating Social Justice Warriors For Censorship and World Domination™.

Veterans Day 2014: Fun, free and low-cost ways to meaningfully celebrate today.

Today is Veterans Day in the US.

I wrote last year about my friend Mike, who served as an Army Ranger in the Vietnam War. Though he looks much younger than his years, he has lived with painful physical injuries from the war that are worsening with age. He has other health problems linked to Agent Orange exposure, and he takes a cocktail of psychiatric medications for PTSD and other mental health problems.

I am sorry to report that over the past year Mike has taken a turn for the worse. He was diagnosed with MS, and although he is experiencing some characteristic symptoms, he does not buy the diagnosis 100% (for good reason, as it is difficult to diagnose definitively). More troubling are some neuro-psychological problems that appear to be sparking up. Recently, for the first time I’ve seen him uncharacteristically lose his temper (not at me, at a mutual friend). Just this Sunday he kept insisting to me that Republicans are better on gay rights than Democrats. Now I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry: I holstered my locked-&-loaded mockery pistol and gently but firmly insisted otherwise, with reference to the repeal of DADT and the feds dropping the DOMA appeals, among other things. I AM NOT A MONSTER, PEOPLE. Mike cheerfully changed the subject to how much he loves Obama and thinks he’s done a tremendous job as president. I let that one stand, and just said well, I’m a lot farther to the left than Obama. (<—understatement of the year, or the decade?)

We talk about a lot of things, me and Mike—his experiences during the war, his grown daughters and grandchildren, his home town of Detroit, his exes and the women he’s dating, New York City past and present—but mostly we talk about movies. We share a sweet tooth for clever action-adventure, smart thrillers and wicked fun sci-fi. Occasionally he tries to talk to me about professional sports, whereupon my eyes glaze over and I either start looking at my iPhone and paying him annoyed lip service (“uh-huh…”), or I fall tragically into a coma.

What worries me now is that he lives alone and, MS or no, he is facing an increasingly uphill battle with mobility and quality of life. I especially fear the mental impact on him, since despite his injuries he has spent the better part of his life exceptionally fit. I mean, I have no doubt whatsoever that this d00d could kill us all with his bare hands in seconds, like right now. Of course his deteriorating mental health worries me greatly, and not just for his sake but for entirely selfish reasons. There will surely come a day that my friend Mike is not present in my life any more, one way or another.

In the meantime, if he wants to talk I want to listen, with patience and without judgement (unless it’s about the goddamn sports. Jeezus Mike, just shut the fuck up about the sports, mmmkay?). As I’ve written before, I want to be a safe person for him to open up to, and not just about the war. I want to empathize, deeply, sincerely, compassionately, though obviously I can have no earthly idea what he has been through. I think it’s the least I can fucking do.

Just FYI: veteran suicides average more than 22 a day, and more than 69% of them are among those aged 50 and older.

If you have a Mike in your life, can you reach out today and just…listen? And, you know, maybe not just today.

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Here are some other things you can do for the veterans of our evil and stupid wars:

Wounded Warrior Project.

Because America’s Owners believe themselves entitled to the sacrifices made by these men and women and their families, VA programs are chronically underfunded and veterans benefits are perpetually on the chopping block. Wounded Warrior steps in with counseling, job resources and material support for veterans and their families. Donate whatever funds you can give, say thank you via Facebook, or “donate” a Facebook post or Tweet to show these men and women your support. There are also volunteer opportunities and other ways to help.

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Veterans for Peace.

veteransforpeacelogoVeterans for Peace™ is a coalition of military veterans and their allies whose mission is threefold: exposing the true costs of war (economic, environmental, human casualties, PTSD & suicide, social); building a culture of peace; and healing the wounds of war, at home and abroad. To that end, it works with other organizations:

  • To increase public awareness of the costs of war
  • To restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations
  • To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons
  • To seek justice for veterans and victims of war
  • To abolish war as an instrument of national policy

If you cannot afford to offer financial support, you can educate yourself and others with downloadable resources. There is an online store that sells some really great stuff (everything from a “HOW IS THE WAR ECONOMY WORKING FOR YOU?” bumper sticker for a dollar, to a 9-foot “FREE CHELSEA MANNING” banner for $30). Why not do some early holiday shopping for a veteran in your life? Or pick up some anti-war swag for yourself, and piss off a war-mongering Democrat today. (I’m looking at you, Hillary Clinton.)

See also my recent post about a veteran for peace.

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Chelsea Manning.

Former Pvt. Chelsea Manning is an American hero presently serving 35 years in a U.S. prison for exposing many illegal acts, corrupt and duplicitous practices and war crimes committed by the United States government for the benefit of America’s Owners. As of April 23, 2014, a Kansas district judge has approved PVT Manning’s request for legal name change (from Bradley), and you can address mail envelopes to her as “Chelsea E. Manning.” For the cost of a stamp you can write to her.

NOTE: mail must be addressed exactly as follows:

CHELSEA E. MANNING     89289
1300 NORTH WAREHOUSE ROAD
FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS 66027-2304

Seriously, no joke:

  • Do not include a hash (“#”) in front of Manning’s inmate number.
  • Do not include any title in front of Manning’s name, such as “Ms.,” “Mr.,” “PVT,” “PFC,” etc.
  • Do not include any additional information in the address, such as “US Army” or “US Disciplinary Barracks.”
  • Do not modify the address to conform to USPS standards, such as abbreviating “North,” “Road,” “Fort,” or “Kansas.”
  • For international mail, either “USA” or “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are acceptable on a separate line.

For more information about restrictions on content, see here (or the blog of her lawyer David Coombs). The Chelsea Manning Support Network is also raising funds for her legal fees; you can also donate to her prison account, which she can use to make phone calls, buy stamps and purchase other small comfort items. Be sure to at least sign the petition to President Obama demanding a pardon for Manning—a simple action guaranteed to be just as irritating to him as it is futile!

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Contact Your Representatives and Senators.

Call them up and tell them exactly what you think of cutting veterans benefits so that the planet-polluting corporations who benefit from our soldiers’ sacrifices can pay low-to-no taxes. Why not email your congresscritters a little note, and tell them to cut the defense budget in half and fund universal single-payer health care*, education, infrastructure and clean energy with the savings. Demand legislation requiring that companies benefiting financially from our wars be run as non-profits. Get yourself on the government’s lefty watch list today!

*In a masterstroke of truly ingenious reasoning, US soldiers who are less-than-honorably discharged with psychological problems are not entitled to VA health care—including mental health care.

medicare4all__________

The Palace wishes a Happy Veterans Day to all veterans, and their families and friends.