lynch law

14 Aug 2014 12:52 am
lotesse: (freedom)
I am sick with horror at events in Ferguson, Missouri, because once again white pride has trumped the right of black children to exist. I am sick with terror at events in Ferguson, Missouri, because this is the creep of violent fascism in action, and we should fucking all be afraid.

And I feel sick with grief, too. That poor beautiful little boy.
lotesse: (hmmm)
Dear Mr. Dawkins,

in re: your dumbass tweet,

Natasha Trethewey is a better poet than Shakespeare, Fabiola Gianotti, Higgs Boson discoverer, is a better scientist than Einstein, and Zitkala-Ša was a greater musician than Schubert.

be pleased to note that this was not difficult.

up yours,
me
lotesse: (Default)
Had a fight this morning with my Mormon friend, who for whatever reason saw fit to break our usual detente with a bunch of crap pro-violence pro-war bullshit; I ended up yelling and hanging up on him, but it's kept bothering me. I hate having to know that people I like - well, I guess that's what comes into question, isn't it? if they really are people that I can like. G. repeatedly described himself this morning as "pro-imperialism," and I sort of think you can't come back from that. He doesn't get it from nowhere - like Orson Scott Card, my friend did mission work in Brazil, and however much they dress it up as charity or whatever the Mormon missionary scene is totally imperialism in practice. And, no matter the polygamy bans, the Mormons are really patriarchal, moreso than I think people understand. This is the religion that makes eighteen-year-old white boys "priests" with all these "spiritual powers." See the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly for Mormon patriarchalism in action.

but we're getting old enough that this shit is no longer cute.

It's always creeped me out a bit that my family contacts with Mormons have been so gendered: we've got G. and an older friend of his, a painter like my mama, and the both of them do this man-about-town skirt-the-rules thing where they drink cocktails and mama's friend paints nudes. Mama and her friend go gallery-hopping in New York, and he's married, but his wife is never with him: he explores the city art scene while she, seemingly, stays home with their children and obeys the laws of their church. It's like the men have the authority to bend the rules, and so can make fun playmates for leftist folks like me and mine - but that actually kind of makes it all worse, because they're not only cult members, they're hypocritical cult members who subject their women to harsh standards that they themselves cannot keep to.

(The OSC link above goes to a fascinating chapter-by-chapter deconstruction of Speaker for the Dead. before reading through it, I'd managed to forget enough of the book to think that I liked it better than Ender's Game,, and had tended to position it as the one thing of Card's that was maybe still worth it. There are now a number of things freaking me out about my own personal relationship with Speaker. I'd managed to miss the implication, as a child, that Novinha and her family are Black, and it's breaking my brain, because on the one hand, I'm not surprised that OSC didn't succeed in getting a message of diversity across - and then on the other I wonder if I wasn't engaging in defensive ignorance, because as the linked decon shows, Ender's interactions with the Ribeiras are fucking horrific if he's the lone white dude on a Black planet. Even as a twelve-year-old, I knew I didn't want to read an interracial romance authored by Card! I kind of wish I didn't have to know now! but then again, erasure and whitewashing are, we know, not cool responses to a text. Gahhhh. In even further "I don't know what to do with this," I was also struck, given the really really central place that Komarr has had in my ability to think through my abuse, with how much Speaker felt similar: I can really see Miles/Ekaterin as a rewriting of Ender/Novinha, even down to the role of the children. idek man.)

(I've been feeling angry and bitter and intense and fighty a lot of late, and idek about that either. are things more shit than usual in the world, or is it just me?)
lotesse: (Default)
been thinking about violence, misogyny, and mental illness. I think that one of our takeaways as a culture NEEDS to be a re-evaluation of the seriousness of sexist hate speech; don't know that it's gonna happen, because we're so saturated in men's words of sex and gender violence that it's genuinely difficult to take them seriously. I don't want to know how much men hate me. I don't want to know that about them. But to brush aside rape and murder threats as "just internet trolling" is manifestly unsafe. when a man writes that he intends to murder women in an act of entitled "retribution," we need to be aware of the very real possibility that he will do so. nothing incomprehensible about it.

the fact that his mother noticed, understood, called the police on him, but when they came they thought he was "shy" and "polite" and so did nothing, shows that the flip side of the tone argument is also active and insidious: say horrible things in a "civil" way, and people will excuse you. "civility" is a dirty goddamn word.

as always, when a white-passing male pulls this sort of shit, everyone says he's mentally ill. many others have done the important work of showing how this assumption gets the axis of violence in relation to mental illness ass-backwards, indicating us crazy folk as perps when really mentally-ill people are so much more likely to be victims. but I also had the thought, this morning, that ideas about mental illness, violence, and sexism were part of what screwed me over in re: my ex, who was both mentally ill and abusive. When we met he was struggling to function through his OCD; his family hadn't done their research, swung from enabling his neurotic behaviors to asking why he didn't just stop them. he wasn't quite a misogynist, but he was definitely a bitter geeky manchild, and yes the way he talked about the girl he'd been with before bothered me a little. The only reason my mother could ever give me for the way she hit the ceiling when I started seeing him was his mental illness. I wonder, now, if she saw something of what was coming to me, if she perceived his potential for abuse - but because all she could say to me was "not that one he's crazy," and because I saw myself as "crazy," I got tangled up in a whole bunch of stuff about how mentally-ill people are still deserving of love. Not only does the labeling of entitled violence as mental illness contribute to the stigmaticization of non-neurotypicality, it also allows the mis-naming of entitled, violent, or abusive behavior as just mental difference. I'm reminded of Lundy Bancroft's observation in Why Does He Do That that individual therapy can actually make abusers much much worse. In fact, the argument could be made that while the shooter's parents DID get him diagnosed and into therapy, which would have been the right line of action in the case of mental illness, he may have never been crazy at all, just entitled and bitter and willing to damage others in order to ameliorate his own pain. obvs I can't know that, but I do know that I made that mistake with my ex, seeing problems as part of his disorder that we actually part of his assholishness and entitlement.

am finding Dark Angel to be sufficiently man-hating escapist catharsis; recommendations for further misandrist viewing would be appreciated. might have to go whole Hepburn tonight and rewatch Adam's Rib.
lotesse: (freedom)
I am genuinely shaken by horror at the news this morning: Tennessee's bringing back the electric chair for their executions. Not thinking about it; they've gone and voted on it. This is -

lotesse: (hmmm)
It's fucking shocking, to me, that we're still at the releasing new comprehensive reports stage of our public relationship with the reality of climate change. We were there ten, twenty years ago. The shock of realization about global warming was a driving force in American culture back in my early early childhood, the ozone layer; 80s shit.
lotesse: (curiouser)
Is Obama's change in stance on gay rights the rhetorical origin point of this "my views have evolved" language I keep hearing? I'm not sure I like the formulation. Not because of anything to do with civil rights or viewpoints or personal change, but because I feel like it muddies evolution as a term - and it's already an awfully murky one. It seems to me, looking over the history of evolutionary science & education, that the hardest thing for folks to grasp about natural selection is its inherent directionlessness. Biological evolution isn't a directional force. It has no teleology. In many ways, natural selection is in fact deeply random, species responding to the chaos of the environment. But it was awfully easy for Darwin to graft the Whig Theory of Progress onto species differentiation - the two ideas do have a certain resemblance - and I don't notice that we've cleared the tangle yet.

By describing the process of being educated out of regressive views as an "evolution," the president - and all the other leftist voices that have followed him in this, I'm looking at you Rachel Maddow - misframes the situation. Learning is not an evolutionary process, nor should social justice be; while evolution is a nonteleological system for survival, education and social justice are, in point of fact, both attempts at (semi?)linear improvement. (I hedge because I AM awfully fond of chaos and productive directionlessness, but no matter how unschool your schooling is it still does come with a clear end goal. But although it is possible to fail to learn, or to deliberately resist learning, nb that you can't escape evolution by burying your head in the sand. Failure to evolve is death - but not, um um um, not culpable death. Not the way that failures of social justice are culpable failures.) Framing progressive change in individual minds and hearts as an evolutionary process only further entrenches our cultural difficulty in really groking evolution as it is rather than in some sort of theistic Whiggish Just-So-Story sort of way, imo, and it also leaves room for oppressors to wiggle out of responsibility for their own views and ignorance.
lotesse: (narnia)
There is a way, now, more than ten years out from it all, that I'm beginning to see the Lord of the Rings movies as a deep and appalling travesty, misrepresentation and missed chance - or, worse, maybe not so much that last thing. But the chances they took weren't the ones I would have wished them to, not in the service of fidelity to the ethos of the source text and not in the service of bending the long arc of the universe toward justice.

In 2001, with the United States coopting Tolkien's rhetoric of dark and light and moral war to justify casually stupid militarism - at the start of what is now the longest war the United States has ever fought, one of the longest wars of the modern era - they took Tolkien's peacenik epic and retold it to emphasize and valorize violence. And admittedly Peej isn't American, but a lot of the project, including a lot of the money, came from either the US or Great Britain, who were allied with the US at the time in the famous "Coalition of the Willing." So I'm not sure the films' Kiwitude can excuse them from this one.

They "empowered" characters by giving them more violence to do, as in the case of Arwen. They recut and rebalanced Tolkien's multiple interwoven narratives to give more heft to Aragorn's military prowess and to minimize the intensity of Frodo's long slow sad story of grinding pain and unendurable pressure, endurance beyond hope. They erased both the story of the scouring of the Shire, which brings home the aftermath of war and shows its price on a more intimate scale, and the story of Frodo's shellshock, which he never really recovers from - the price on the internal scale, the price to the soul. They bring war back home with them. Merry argues for its necessity; Frodo stays "shocked and sad."

Tolkien:

‘But,’ said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, ‘I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.’

‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.

Jackson:

Sam But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo ... and it's worth fighting for.

... I'm not at all sure that those two passages are from the same story. Not deep down where it counts. For one thing the relationship between the characters totally reverses, from Tolkien's naive Sam who hopes beyond reason and worldweary Frodo who always knew just how much he was losing to Jackson's butch assertive Sam and passive unthinking blank slate Frodo, who is merciful to Gollum because Gandalf told him to be more than out of any considered personal conviction. But also - there's a difference between book!Frodo's "give them up" and movie!Sam's "worth fighting for," although battle is certainly one of Tolkien's recognized modes of self-sacrifice. But the one emphasizes the omnipresence of the cost of war while the other doesn't mention it - apparently once you figure out that there's "some good in this world" you become the equal to any task, no matter how impossible, and of course as the films demonstrate the wages of fighting is glory: the only one who visibly pays is Frodo, and even in his case going to the Grey Havens seems kind of like a trip to Disneyland. Eowyn's choice to ride to battle loses a lot of its unhealthy/suicidal undertones, and her choice to turn away from violence in the Houses of the Healing is omitted. Both Merry's and Pippin's battle traumas are skimmed over; the psychological aspects of Merry's hurt after the Pelennor is disappeared altogether. Back in the Shire, before he sails, Frodo seems physically pained rather than shellshocked; and I'm using that word rather than PTSD for a reason, because Middle Earth came into being while Tolkien was resting in a field hospital after the Battle of the Somme and is fundamentally bound to World War I because of it.

And just as I am filled with rage and bitterness that Dubya is in art galleries rather than in chains at his own trial in the Hague, so too I find myself unwilling to happily accept the place that the Lord of the Rings has come to inhabit in sff pop culture since the films came out: elegant but somehow George-Lucas-esque pieces, real pretty and with some totally cool bits, some strong female characters and some stirring speeches about hope and change, and underneath it all an incoherent attraction to violence, callousness, hierarchy. A New Hope ends with that bizarre visual Nazi reference, The Return of the King with some pretty frank and unreconstructed monarchalism. Not to mention the pervasive racism of the orcs, the nastiness of the Haradrim, the general failure to imagine a diverse world. That last is, yes, also a failing of Tolkien's, and certainly you can find nastinesses he's said, but the business with the orcs at least isn't a failing of the text's.
lotesse: (narnia)
I've been trying to think since I woke up this morning how to communicate what Peter Seeger, flights of angels sing him to his rest, means to me. And I don't know if I can. My whole life, Pete's voice has been like air: so omnipresent that you almost forget how deeply necessary and important it is. I grew up with Abiyoyo and his banjo method books; "Lonesome Valley" and "Hobo's Lullaby" were my cradlesongs. In a way it feels surreal for him to have gone just now, although heaven knows he'd served his time and trouble here, because I've been listening to his music about mortality a lot since my uncle passed a few weeks back. S'what I always end up doing in grief or sorrow.

In some ways Pete's voice is for me an avatar of my father's: a voice of deep and gentle wisdom, but also burning underneath with righteous anger. Maybe that's something I can tell, that Pete's voice taught me how to be politically angry without being hateful, that political anger is properly rooted in compassion and solidarity even when you see folk being wicked or foolish or just plain wrong.

One of the most important ideas I picked up in college was the difference between having awareness and having an analysis. That awareness of oppression and injustice alone can be counterproductive, overwhelming, disempowering, but once you can get hold of analysis you can start to work toward change in strength. I listen to Pete Seeger when I feel like I'm losing my grip on my analysis, because it seems like he always understands.
lotesse: (btvs_womanwarrior)
I'm tired of all the people talking about how important it is that folk all have "the same chance to succeed." How about the same support toward success? Something that doesn't imply that everyone should start level and we should just, what, ditch the ones that somehow "fall behind"? Where is "behind," anyway? What does it mean, to have "a chance to succeed"? How are we evaluating success? Equality of chances doesn't do much without followthrough or social safety nets, and anyway the whole rhetoric rests on the idea that some people are failed people, and I'm not sure that's the best starting point for progressive action.

My uncle had a probably-but-not-yet-fatal stroke last night. We weren't close, but the family really didn't need to bury anyone this year, and he was just 50. I am Not Dealing with this right now, and so will proceed to comment that it sucks balls that 12 Years a Slave took the Golden Globe for Best Drama but none of the actors were individually honored. Not particularly surprising, but definitely shadeworthy. And to note that Ronan Farrow gives me hope; it's wonderful to see a young man publicly standing with the women he cares about against patriarchal abuse and dismissal.

(I don't really want sympathy comments about my uncle? I don't want to think about it, and I wasn't going to put in anything at first, but then that felt weird. But I still don't want to think/talk about it atm.)
lotesse: (fakenews_heart)
having this problem where, although each new day shows us worse and worse things about Chris Christie, I still really sort of want to bang him like a screen door. (I mean, apparently so does Jon Stewart, so at least I'm in good company.)
lotesse: (witchwife)
On the one hand, the workers' rights advocate in me is horrified by the fact that so many American businesses are going to be open on Thanksgiving this year. My mama tells stories about having oddly-timed holidays as a girl because my grandpa often chose to work at the steel mill on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day - but since that was an oldschool union job, he had the choice, and the reason he chose to work was that he got time and a half and every little bit helped. It's really terrible to think about similar families now being torn apart on holidays against their wills because workers no longer have rights to holidays or even the right to request unpaid time off. It reminds me of indenture. It feels really wrong.

But on the other - oh how I long for a War On Thanksgiving to be properly fought and won. I don't know if my dislike of potatoes is a factor here, but I hate hate hate Thanksgiving. Bland-ass food, and sure you can dress it up to taste better but why eat turkey and potatoes when you can eat red curry or beef bourginon or spicy tortilla soup? There's a reason we only eat traditional Thanksgiving foods once a year, y'all. Thanksgiving break cuts academic semesters really awkwardly - just as students need to be gearing up for finals, oh, no, go home for a week and forget everything you've learned since you left high school. Thanksgiving break comes when I least want to see people, when I'm most tired and irritable and overworked and underpaid and no I don't want to drive nine hours north, thanks, can't I just stay home?

And the racism. Columbus Day might be the most overtly racist of all US holidays, but Thanksgiving was the one they got me on back then; I was raised by a leftist family with a pretty good grasp on decency around diversity, but Thanksgiving was one major vector of racist indoctrination they missed. Year after year as a child I was encouraged by teachers and grandparents and other adults to bedeck myself in construction-paper-feather crowns, wear lipstick "war paint" and two fat blonde braids and brown-colored clothes and the pink fringy moccasins that I got every summer up on Mackinaw Island. So shamed of that shit; can't believe they let me do it, can't believe I didn't get that it was wrong. I was a dressup queen who'd grown up watching a blonde white Tiger Lily dancing with Mary Martin's Peter Pan singing uggawug songs. Blonde girls playing Indian Princess was modeled behavior.

And I got told stories about Squanto, about Pocahontas, about "The First Thanksgiving," came away with the impression that NDNs were all gone now, wasn't it sad, nothing we can do about it. Indiana, they called this place, the land of the Indians. There are burial mounds on the farm where I live, or we think that's likely what they are; no matter how good it feels to walk barefoot in the grass here and feel the vitality of the soil under my feet, this is not actually my land. My own relatively recent immigrant progenitors might not have been around to contribute to NDN genocide and marginalization, but we profited by it, picking up the good land that had been taken from native peoples. This is the knowing that Thanksgiving covers up: celebrate your harvest, sure, because winter gets long, but don't act like we have some sort of peaceable history with the native inhabitants of the land you live on, the land whose bounty you celebrate. Wouldn't a just and historically-minded nation have a day of restitution, or mourning, or anything other than self-satisfied celebration? We survived another year at others' expense, go us, let's throw ourselves a party.
lotesse: (freedom)
American University Radio reports that the Senate agreement to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling has cleared the House, and is on its way to the President. Not that we won't have to go through it all again in three months, but I'll sleep better tonight.
lotesse: (trek_changein)
the Republicans don't know what they want, the press is misrepresenting petulance as gridlock just as frequently as they can, and nobody seems to know how we're getting out of this. I quite liked the idea of Louise Slaughter as temporary Speaker, but nope. So, some musical reflection: what the hell is this country we've made, and what are we to do with it now that it exists? Apart from shutting it down, that is.


 photo america.jpg

download at sendspace


tracklist behind the cut )
lotesse: (hagaren_war)
The government shutdown is cutting funding for domestic violence shelters. God. I had a family that supported me rather than backing my abuser, and had the resources to help me maintain my housing and get transportation, and I could get counseling affordably through the university, but many many many abuse victims do not have those things, any or all, and I can't imagine going through it without support.

May the Republican Suicide Caucus rot from the inside out, poisoned by their own careless carefree cruelty.
lotesse: (freedom)
also apparently my government threw a tantrum and is now going to, idk, take a nap? fuck the house of representatives and their obstructionist catshit; now's not the time to be lying down, not when there's so much to be done
lotesse: (neverland)
If you were to give Tiger Lily a tribe, what would it be? Textually, her people are the "Pickaninnies" (oh my god, Barrie, oh my god), and they're contrasted with the Hurons and the Delawares, both of which are Northeastern peoples, but the pirate stuff in Neverland always makes it seem vaguely Caribbean to me, which is going to be Arawak peoples. "Happy hunting grounds" and "tomahawk" are not good cultural markers - and apparently beating the tomtom was actually a Desi Imperialism thing.

Digging through critical writing on Peter Pan's race issues, I keep turning up stuff about the Disney film, rather than Barrie's work, and looking for stuff on Victorian stereotypes of Indians turns up Desi Imperialism stuff.

(this post has no relationship to the fact that I sat up in bed at 1:30 am and started writing Pan fic, and then got stuck on trying to make Bechdel passes happen with grossly stereotypical characters. what would give you that idea?)

Also, a somewhat-related link: Andrea Smith's piece on the problem with privilege and the way that privilege has become yet another empty way for white people to feel better about racism without having to deal with any icky POC really resonated with me, as a white girl trying to teach a white classroom N.K. Jemisin and Janelle Monae.

(how good is her new album, y'all? down in southern Indiana, we be jamming!)
lotesse: (Default)
Just now listening to President Obama's words on the murder of Trayvon Martin - seriously tearing up, and suddenly feeling much much prouder of my 2012 vote. It seems like a really big thing to have this case addressed at the same level as national tragedies like Sandy Hook, for the president to acknowledge a Black child's death as something impactful on the health, balance, and strength of the community, something that needs to be talked over and worked through instead of brushed under a rug. It feels like this might be a really big deal. I don't remember ever hearing this kind of aware, critical, complex analysis of race - with an emphasis on race history! oh, the emphasis on race history! - coming from my elected representatives ever before. It's still an awful, bitter thing that a Black child died, and any good that comes of this will never be able to ameliorate that total loss. But it was a beautifully-taught lesson.
lotesse: (thetimeisnow)
God, god, nothing ever changes. Audre Lorde from 1978:

A Woman/Dirge for Wasted Children
Audre Lorde


Awakening
rumors of the necessity for your death
are spread by persistent screaming flickers
in the morning light
I lie
knowing it is past time for sacrifice
I burn
like the hungry tongue of an ochre fire
like the benediction of fury
pushed before the heel of the hand
of the thunder goddess
parting earth's folds with a searching finger
I yield
one drop of blood
which I know instantly
is lost.

A man has had himself
appointed
legal guardian of fetuses.
Centuries of wasted children
warred and whored and slaughtered
anoint me guardian
for life.

But in the early light
another sacrifice is taken
unchallenged
a small dark shape rolls down
a hilly slope
dragging its trail of wasted blood
upon the ground
I am broken
into clefts of screaming
that sound like the drilling flickers
in treacherous morning air
on murderous sidewalks
I am bent
forever
wiping up blood
that should be
you.
lotesse: (merlin_morgana)
I do not know what to do with the amount of humor that George Zimmerman and his people seem to be approaching this trial with. From the defense attorney's kids posting jokes about their dad "killing it" (IT!) in court, to said defense attorney's fucking knock-knock jokes, to George Zimmerman fucking CHUCKLING in court - what the fuck is this shit?

At first I thought it was a weird tactic, because in order to find Zimmerman innocent, the jury is going to have to believe that he felt threatened by Trayvon Martin, that he was afraid - and that laughing shithead does not look like someone who went through that kind of fear. But I figure - they know just how stacked this deck actually is, and that's got to be why they're laughing. Because they know that, in this case, history is on their side. Murdering Black children has historically been something of an American value. LeVar Burton's point, that he takes the precautions with the police that he does BECAUSE this is America, not in spite of it, is demonstrated in these jackholes' laughter and smirks.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and I am wholly disgusted with my country.

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin

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