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Monday, April 8, 2013

As Seen On Reddit

Reddit is one of the better link-sharing/microblogging sites out there, and I find some pretty awesome stuff on the site. There's news, cute baby animals, and weird cartoons. 

And just like in daily life, not every person on Reddit is the sharpest. Knowing this, I usually pass by the stupidity and meander onto something else. However, this morning, I spotted an example of idiocy so immense that I thought I'd share it with you. 

Here is the post that began the conversation; a pretty standard Facebook screencap of a conversation between a religious person and an atheist:

In the comments, a person who thinks of themself as rather bright, very seriously added this gem to the conversation:

Humans didn't evolve from monkeys. They both evolved from a common ancestor also known as neanderthals.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"F*ck, Yeah!" Of The Day - The Indigo Girls Edition

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists are a vocal subset of the overall feminist movement that are known for their vilification of transgender people, men, and anyone who does not agree with their hateful views.

The average TERF is a middle-aged white lesbian, but there are a small population of people of colour, "political lesbians" (women who are heterosexual but are celibate or occasionally date women), straight women (the most famous being comedienne Roseanne Barr, who claims to not hate trans women, but wants them out of "womonspace"), and even a few men.

The intention of the TERF is simple- they declare transgender women to be men, and wants them to be barred from "womonspace". Such spaces include public restrooms, lockerrooms, lesbian bars, bathhouses, feminist speaking events, and protests. The queen of Womyn-Born-Womyn events is the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, where gender policing is the norm. Suspected transsexuals are harassed and womyn known to be trans are refused admittance or kicked out.

One of the perennial headliners is folk-rock group Indigo Girls. They've graced the MWMF stage as long as I can remember and I was an out lesbian for almost 20 years before transitioning (the fact that I am a trans man is well-known, but really irrelevant). They are a fixture- dykes love them, build shrines to them, and probably pray to them before retreating to their tents at night. Suffice it to say, they're the big cheeses.

A couple of days ago, frontwomyn Amy and Emily took to their blog at In a post about the festival, they expressed their desire to see the inclusion of trans womyn and clearly stated that it will be their last appearance until the attacks and exclusion cease. Even more, the money they earn playing this year's MWMF show will be donated to trans activist causes. The piece expressed solidarity with ALL womyn, acknowledges the fact that their "trans sisters" are singled out for hate crimes, and their sincere wish to unite the queer womyn's community. It's a fantastic piece, it's well-written and thoughtful, and not just queer folks should read it. (there's a link below)

It's nice to see the Girls take a stand, once and for all. While they may have quietly hoped that MWMF would change their policy, they are certainly not silent now. Their statement was thoughtful and kind, but simultaneously a firm statement of their current ideals, as well as their wishes for the future of queer feminism.  Just as they've evolved, the queer feminist movement needs to undergo a metamorphosis. With their antiquated policy, the Festival has cast aside important voices whilst calling it solidarity.

In giving a voice to the most marginalized members of their community, Indigo Girls may have lost a few fans, but they've gained so much more. It's said that respect is earned, and even though I don't have the same stake in the game anymore, they've earned mine.

There's never a bad time to do the right thing.

READ the entire piece HERE

(C) 1995 Sony BMG Buy it HERE

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What Is Real? The Homophobic Chadwells

Queer kids often have a tough time with family members after coming out. Teens have been beaten, tossed out of the home, and even had parents claim their deaths with elaborate funeral services. So today, when the following piece made the Facebook rounds, it went viral and fast in LGBT as well as religious circles:

Mr. and Mrs. Chadwell ponder the hard choice of giving their gay daughter up for adoption.
Mr. and Mrs. Chadwell ponder the hard choice of giving their gay daughter up for adoption.
A Southern Carolina couple have made national news by being the first parents to put their child up for adoption due to their sexuality. Usually parents give up their children because they can’t raise them due to finances or because they are young and don’t have the mental ability to bring up a child. Kids are also usually given up for adoption at a young age, but April Chadwell is barely 16 years old and has been listed as legally adoptable by the state of Southern Carolina. Mrs. Chadwell released a statement saying “It was a tough choice to give up our daughter to the state, but we don’t know how to handle someone who decides to live a lifestyle that we do not agree with”. The Chadwells said they had help from their local church, who prayed for weeks seeking guidance for the couple and came to the conclusion that it would be best to let the child go in hopes of being adopted by a gay friendly family.

So, what's the scoop?

In reality, the piece was written by a Daily Bleach columnist who calls himself Tyson Bowers III. For those of you who don't know, the Bleach is a website that's sort of like the poor man's Onion- in other words, it's cooked up by a clever comic. "Tyson Bowers" is their anti-sex superconservative character. His pieces take stabs at the racist, sexist, and homophobic views of those on the Christian right. To put it succinctly, the articles and the Chadwell family are 100% fiction.

It takes a pretty talented person to cook up a scandal as cleverly faked as this one, but the internet is full of such silliness. From the canard about baggy pants being a sign of prison homosexuality (it actually is because a cost-cutting state reduced the number of sizes available to inmates) to this whopper, folks are quick to believe whatever is posted on a Facebook wall. Authors who have even posted "this is a work of fiction" have had their satire interpreted as fact.

With Bowers' piece, the reason why it went viral is believability. It is absolutely possible that some wingnut parents would attempt to give their teen to the state due to their sexual orientation; after all, kids are frequently surrendered to Children's Aid or institutions because of disabilities or behavioural problems. Despite being a swipe at terrible religious parenting, concerned friends asked me to blog about these horrible stains on childrearing.

So why do people fall for such silliness? Quite simply, we love to be outraged and we're willing victims of our own emotions. We're also gullible as hell. Our willingness to suspend disbelief is why Leo Fitzpatrick was repeatedly attacked in real life because of a terrible character he portrayed in the film Kids. Almost everyone retweets links or shares Facebook wall posts in our day and age. We blindly follow the mob, so much so that it's almost unconscious. I've even caught myself doing it until I take the time to gather facts before authoring a post such as this one.

So, were the folks who alerted me to this manufactured scandal doing so to be malicious or waste my time? Heck, no- they did it because they care about people they've never met, real or imaginary. And that's perfectly fine. But people need to take 30 seconds and wander over to Google, Bing, or whatever search engine they use and find out for themselves what is real and what is not. Also, if a website is called The Daily Bleach, you can be pretty sure you're dealing with someone's interpretation of humour. Look into the supposed author of the piece, and if he seems more extreme than Stephen Colbert, he's probably a cleverly-designed yet still very fictional character.

Use your minds before having a coronary about something that would make Vonnegut chuckle.

Be well.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mike Check - The Business of Revictimization

To coincide with the anniversary of the death of late rock star Kurt Cobain, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer posted to their website an article promising fresh, unreleased photos of Cobain's "suicide scene". In the article, they described how their newshounds scored the scoop, with their sports photographer perching at a nearby house to zoom in on the greenhouse where Cobain took his life, taking photos of the area, his body, and distraught relatives arriving at the home. Apparently, these pictures remained undeveloped until the P-I decided to check them out and then add them to their website.

The Post-Intelligencer mentions that they are not publishing these to shock people, but warns of the graphic nature of their slideshow, which does include numerous images of attendants removing the body of the late rocker.

But what the hell is the point and why do it now?

Simply put, publicity. They picked a specific date when folks would be googling the guy to post the photoset. They did it for hits, and they should be ashamed of themselves. There is no good reason to publish photographs of the corpse of a long-dead man, let alone his horrified widow and young daughter. It was done for absolutely selfish reasons; to promote their newspaper and its founder.

Kurt Cobain was someone's kid. He was someone's husband and a girl's father. Frances Cobain is a young woman now, and she's fully aware of how her pop died. She doesn't need to be reminded of it in such a grotesque fashion. To capitalize on someone's death so many years after their death is truly sad, and we as media consumers are all part of this.

Nowadays, everything is about hits. It's the website advertising, it's the Facebook posts, it's the number of retweets your big "scoop" can score. It started as the kid yelling "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" on the street corner and it's become bigger, faster, and far more sinister. The news media no longer cares about being sensitive to widows and kids, moms and dads, friends and easily disturbed members of the public. The big buck is why hundreds of cameramen race to the scenes of car crashes and to the morgues that exist within school classrooms. It's not enough anymore to know that Ryan Dunn has died in a car crash- we have to see the blood and guts and twisted steel; the internet is full of slow-motion video of Eric Harris assassinating classmates and then taking his own life because some of us are so disconnected from the reality that we think that we need to be really, really shocked.

We're very ill as a society. We see these images and the tragedies that cause them as entertainment and as ploys to market whatever cause we're representing. The little girl taken at 6 is no longer an innocent taken before her time, she's a statement for gun control. But she was a human being and so was Kurt Cobain. Victims of tragedy leave behind an extra group of victims who become increasingly more hurt every time the memory of their loved one is capitalized on by a thirsty paparazzo or grandstanding talk show host.

There must become a time where we need to step back and think before we print that picture or click that link. People's lives and deaths are worth far more than the few cents of advertising that TMZ or the Post-Intelligencer get when you hop on to their websites. Media will only produce what they think will sell and you're unconsciously purchasing whenever you tune in to Nancy Grace or sign up for exclusive e-mail updates.

The power is at the tip of your fingers. How you use that is up to you. Choose wisely.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Attn. Don Young- It's 2013

TW: racial slurs

Don Young is a Republican congressman from Alaska who has been around a long time. In his 21 terms in the house, you'd think he would have some idea about the evolution of language. With advancement of society comes understanding that racism is unacceptable, particularly among public officials.

So, an interview the congressman gave to KRBD has me sickened. When discussing whether there is an actual need for migrant workers, Rep. Young said "My father used to have a ranch; we used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks pick tomatoes. It take two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine"

You read that correctly- Congressman Don Young referred to his fellow human beings as wetbacks. For those of you not from our side of the pond, this is possibly the most insulting epithet that can be used against a working-class Mexican or Central American person. It's on the same level as using the n-bomb to refer to African-Americans.

For his part, the 79 year old Young claims that the term was commonly used when he was a kid and "it's not used the same way anymore" and he didn't mean any "disrespect". In his mind it's no big deal and we should just let it be because he didn't mean it that way.

I'm calling B.S. here. I used to work under a racist gorilla of a boss on Vancouver Island. He used to use all kinds of slurs that I won't repeat, but one of them is the one Mr. Young used. The guy used to chase a guy whose parents were Mexican around, calling him every dirty name he could think of. This brainless goon knew exactly what he was doing. He fully comprehended the fact that he was being an asshole but nobody really did anything because the silverback had zero problem with knocking your block off, and everybody knew it.

If that redneck boss in the sticks understood he was being a bigot, Don Young had to know that he was being racist. Maybe he'd hidden his bigotry from the news media, keeping it between him and his redneck buddies before, but the cat is out of the bag now. His excuse of it being a common term from his youth is pretty bogus- people knew they were being racist then, but privilege was so huge that most farmers got away with using derogatory language to refer to their hardest-working charges. They also abused workers with impunity then, abuse which Mr. Young and his family benefited from.

Representative Young should be censured, at the very least. Personally, I think his days in Congress should be numbered. Republicans are already losing support from minorities and while I know he doesn't speak for all Republican Reps., the damage is done. Time has obviously passed Don Young and his antiquated ideas by. He has to be let go lest he become the political version of that old guy on the bus that mutters on about darkies and Jews and the "good" old days.

My Eyes! My Eyes!

I get that teaching kids body positivity is one of the new "in" things to do, and it might even be a good thing.

But I cannot explain this.

Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what's going on here??

Caught On Tape

The VPD is investigating a cop for decking a man who was stopped for running a red light and not wearing a helmet on a bicycle.

According to the man who filmed the attack, Andishae Akhavan was cuffed while being written a ticket and then cold-cocked without provocation. The victim received a cut lip and affirmed that he simply asked the officers what he was being cited for prior to and after being cuffed.

As you can see and hear in the following video, Mr. Akhavan is asking the officers why he is being cuffed. The officer says "relax" and then punched Mr. Akhavan squarely in the jaw, telling him afterward to "relax" again. Then cuffed, he asked the officers why he was punched, to only be told he was "resisting".

Now, I don't know about you, but I'd find it bloody impossible to relax my arm after someone just punched me in the face. Sheer reflex would force your arm upward. But, moreover, why was this guy being cuffed in the first place? I have never seen anyone detained in cuffs and then arrested for running a red light.

The VPD is claiming that the alleged victim was being uncooperative and Andishae Akhavan could still be criminally prosecuted for whatever charges they decided to dream up.

The plainclothes officer knew he was being filmed, and the incident occurred in a fairly upscale neighbourhood. Now, imagine what this cop has done or would do to someone in the Downtown Eastside, where there is no way he would be taped?

I have been subjected to police abuse, including 2 incidents very recently; however, I do have friends who are cops, and I know there are some good people who wear the badge. But there are also very bad people; folks who use their society-given privilege to abuse other human beings.

Authority positions have long been a magnet for sociopaths- men and women who have no sense of conscience as we know it and get off on exerting their will on others. I don't know if the officers in question are indeed sociopaths, but I do know that they callously participated in an assault of a man and then hid behind their badges when shit hit the fan. These guys know that even if they do get suspended, they'll still get paid. They're highly aware that despite the fact that law enforcement officers are expected to be held to a higher standard, the rate of conviction is low and incarceration nearly zero.

Was Mr Akhavan a mouthpiece after being decked? You bet he was, and I guarantee that you would be too if you were cuffed and then punched for running a red light. He was detained without just cause and then assaulted without provocation. Even if he was resisting, which it's clear that he wasn't, you grab the guy's arm a little harder. This was over the line and both officers were aware of it. The Vancouver Police Department does not have a wonderful reputation- from failing to respond to disappearances and murders of Indigenous and Aboriginal women to rapes by coercion of downtown prostitutes to assaults like those seen here, their reputation may be stained beyond repair.

In case you were wondering, the officer who threw the punch has been given a week-to-week paid leave of absence and the officer witnessed justifying the assault is still on the beat.

Your tax dollars hard at work, Vancouver.