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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.