Archive for category Citizen Red
Just as regular as a Swiss clock, a high-up member of the cartoon hate cult Westboro Baptist Church is spewing crap from his face-anus about the recent disaster in Oklahoma:
Fred Phelps Jr., the son of Fred Phelps who leads the Westboro Baptist Church, has tweeted that he believes the tornadoes that recently leveled areas in and around Oklahoma City are the result of Kevin Durant’s support of former Celtic Jason Collins. Durant plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA and Collins recently came out as gay.
Durant has also pledged to donate $ million to the recovery efforts in Oklahoma City.
Fred Jr’s first Tweet reads: “OK Thunder’s Durant flips God by praising fag Collins. God smashes OK. You do the math. #GodH8sFags #FagsDoomNations #FearGod #GodH8sU”
Mr. Phelps worships a God, and wants us to worship a God, who creates incredibly destructive meteorological events that kill dozens of people simply because the state in question contains one basketball player who has some kind words for another basketball player, who is openly gay.
Does this mean the WBC is going to picket funerals of people who were killed by the tornado?
I know the WBC isn’t exactly representative of anything but itself, but this is far from the first time someone has attributed a natural disaster to their God being pissed off at us for being too tolerant of gays, abortion, feminism and religions outside of evangelical Christianity. Remember Hurricane Katrina? Remember the earthquake in Haiti? Remember all the “Religious Right” people who wanted us to believe those events were divine retribution as opposed to meteorology?
Many well-meaning people of faith openly assume atheists are miserable nihilists. They ask how we godless weirdos manage to get up in the morning; they want to know how our lives have any meaning. They don’t understand how we can be good without God.
This is a good example right here. When ugly shit happens due to factors beyond our control, we don’t ask ourselves what we did to lose God’s divine protection. We don’t ask ourselves how we have to change our behavior so that God doesn’t punish us again. When God is taken out of the causative equation, it’s so much easier to make sense of life.
That tornado did not happen because anyone in Moore, OK was insufficiently homophobic. It happened because tornadoes are a fact of life for some parts of the world. The severity of this particular event may be attributable to climate change, but if that is the case, then the solution is not more hate disguised as faith. The Religious Right’s God doesn’t make life better for anyone. Looking out for our fellow human beings and our planet is what keeps disaster from being too destructive.
Here we have news of the Ohio kidnapping case, in which Ariel Castro possibly faces the death penalty:
Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro, the man accused of imprisoning three women at his home for a decade, as police charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the belly.
The allegations were contained in a police report that also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his office will decide whether to bring aggravated murder charges punishable by death in connection with the pregnancies that were terminated by force.
“Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct,” he said. “The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life.”
Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping.
Michelle Knight is the one who was subjected to abortions by starvation and battery. She was also put on midwife duty for Amanda Berry’s childbirth and—how’s this for mental abuse?–threatened with death if Amanda’s baby died. None of the captives ever saw a doctor or other qualified health professional. Fortunately, Knight knew her MMR and saved the baby.
I’m sure it would be even more interesting—and probably horrifying—to find out why Amanda was allowed to give birth while Michelle was not allowed to continue her pregnancies.
That’s a digression, though. Here’s what I want to point out: the prosecutor is talking about the death penalty, while the prisoner is on suicide watch.
I suggest a different strategy: just don’t bother with the suicide watch. Put him in a cell alone with some razorblades and rope, and let the chips fall where they may.
I don’t agree with the death penalty. The practical argument against capital punishment is that are some suspects who are wrongly convicted and executed. As long as there’s any possibility of wrongful conviction, the death penalty is an atrocity. That’s not an issue with Ariel Castro: we know what he did. But then we have the philosophical issue that the government is using its power to kill prisoners in order to show the populace that killing people is wrong. There’s something inherently fucked up about that. I don’t think the government should give itself permission to kill prisoners.
However, I also think the justice system is not obligated to protect prisoners from themselves. If Ariel Castro wants to die, he should have our permission. It’ll be the most sensible decision he’s ever made.
Way to puncture my good mood, The Smoking Gun. This happened:
Charles Ramsey, whose 911 call and subsequent TV interviews have made him a microcelebrity, was once a repeat spousal abuser whose marriage ended in divorce following a 2003 felony conviction for battering his wife.
Here’s the thing: this is not trivial information. It’s not irrelevant dirt someone dug up just to spite this guy. It doesn’t make his actions with Amanda Berry any less powerful or admirable. It doesn’t change the fact that he helped three women escape from captivity. It doesn’t suggest any ulterior motives for helping Amanda and her daughter break through that door.
It does, however, put a little damper on this:
Ramsey has also reportedly said that he went to help Berry because he “was raised to help women in distress.”
No, that doesn’t quite work.
His ex-wife reports that he has since apologized for his actions to her. It’s possible that he learned from his experiences and now understands that domestic violence is a horror that no one should have to endure. It’s possible that he stepped up to help Amanda Berry, while thinking it was an everyday case of partner-battering, because he knows, as a former abuser, how important it is for bystanders to step in.
I don’t think that if you’ve done something bad in the past, that it determines your character for the rest of your life. I don’t buy into “once a misogynist batterer, always a misogynist batterer.” We should have room to learn from our mistakes and live our lives as better people. It should be okay for bad husbands to grow up to be the bravest of neighbors.
Except for guys like those Castros. They can be marooned on an island with a revolver loaded with only two bullets, for all I care.
Awesome dude continues to be awesome:
On Tuesday, CNN host Anderson Cooper asked Ramsey what it felt like to find out that he had been living next to kidnapping victims.
“See, that’s why now I’m having trouble sleeping,” he explained. “See, up until yesterday, the only thing that kept me from losing sleep was the lack of money. See what I’m saying? So now that that’s going on, and I could have done this last year, not this hero stuff, just do the right thing.”
“Because there’s a lot of people, they’re saying you’re a hero,” the CNN host noted.
“No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian, an American, and just like you,” Ramsey insisted. “We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It’s just that you got to put that – being a coward, and I don’t want to get in nobody’s business. You got to put that away for a minute. You have to have cajones, bro.”
Cooper noted that the FBI had offered a reward for at least two of the victims.
“I tell you what you do, give it to them,” Ramsey said. “Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway.”
Mr. Ramsey, you put the “being a coward, don’t want to get in nobody’s business” syndrome away when most people would just assume a “domestic violence dispute” was private business. You had cojones where most other people would have left a woman like Amanda Berry to fend for herself. You assumed (based on a lifetime of experience, I have no doubt) a “little pretty white girl” would be afraid of a black man and you STILL stepped up to the plate.
I contributed to a GoFundMe campaign for you yesterday, and you deserve every penny that gets thrown your way. If you want to give all that reward money over to Amanda, Gina and Michelle, that’s your business, but don’t be surprised if they turn around and spend it on nice things for YOU.
I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine? #2A
— Nate Bell (@NateBell4AR) April 19, 2013
Nate Bell, you have dog shit and drier lint for brains. Go hit yourself in the face with a hammer. I’d tell you to fuck yourself with a pineapple, but you’d probably enjoy that.
(There are some awesome responses to his Tweet. Follow the link and read them.)
Mmmm, yeah. I don’t want to hear anything about how everyone’s an asshole at age 16. If I hear you say that, I assume YOU were an asshole at that age, you hung out with assholes, and you brought out the assholery in everyone around you. These kids here? Better than we expect of adults.
Two Norwegian teens returned 467,200 kroner (some 62,000 euros, $81,500) they found left on a train by an elderly passenger, Norwegian media reported Thursday.
The pair found the treasure Wednesday in a bag left on the seat of a train running between Oslo and a small town in southeastern Norway.
“When I opened the bag, the first thing I saw were these wads and wads of bills,” one of the teens, identified as 16-year-old Bendik, told local daily Vestby Avis.
“My first thought was to call the police,” he said.
After looking in the bag more closely, the good samaritans found the passport of its owner, a man in his 70s who was expected to pick up his money from the police on Thursday.
Police said they did not suspect any foul play behind the man’s huge quantity of cash, and said they did not know if the two teenagers had been rewarded for their honesty.
I dropped my wallet on Sunday and got it back from the police that evening. I assumed that whoever picked it up would give it back, and they did. However, there was no cash in my wallet at the time. To come upon a huge sack of money in these circumstances, and turn it straight over to the authorities with the assumption that it will get back to its owner, is to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing.
Personally, I was a much nicer person at 16 than I am now. If someone left a huge sack of cash on the DC Metro, it probably wouldn’t get stolen by another passenger because we’d assume there was a bomb in the bag and be afraid to look inside. The bomb squad might consider it their lucky day, however.
My attention was drawn to…THIS, today. It kind of makes me feel sorry for the opposition. Maybe, kind of, almost. If I’m inarticulate, it’s because reading this has caused me to lose brain cells.
For Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Proposition 8, California’s gay-marriage ban, the worst moment of the proceedings probably came when Elena Kagan zeroed in on the most consistent and conspicuous weakness in the anti-gay-marriage case, namely that the unchanging purpose of marriage is procreation. (And in that purpose lies the state’s constitutionally defensible rationale—something above mere animus towards gays and lesbians—for excluding them from the institution.) Cooper had been explaining his side’s concern “that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historical traditional procreative purpose” and “refocus” it—away from children and toward “the emotional needs and desires of adults.” Suppose, Justice Kagan asked Cooper, that a state were to pass a law saying it would no longer give marriage licenses to heterosexual couples in which both people were over fifty-five. Would that be constitutional? No, said Cooper. But why not, Kagan persisted, if gay couples could be constitutionally denied marriage rights for the reasons he stated? Cooper mustered a rather weak empiricism: “Even with respect to couples over the age of fifty-five, it’s very rare that both parties to the couple are infertile”; men, he said, “rarely outlive their fertility.” Kagan was skeptical. “I can assure you that if both the woman and the man are over the age of fifty-five there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage,” she said, eliciting the biggest laugh of the morning.
I’m so sorry that I wasn’t sitting next to Justice Kagan. It would have been so, so much fun to ask Mr. Cooper to elaborate.
Dude…are you aware that a post-menopausal heterosexual couple is not HALF-fertile? If the woman can’t get pregnant, then she and her husband, together, are not fertile AT ALL. A heterosexual relationship involving a woman who has outlived her menstrual cycles is not a procreative one. Honestly, young lesbian couples make more babies than 55-year-old straight couples. You see, Mr. Cooper, the role of the uterus in reproduction is absolutely essential and non-fungible. It’s all or nothing, and it’s very costly to the body. Sperm, on the other hand, is not that difficult to acquire!
We have a guilty verdict in the Steubenville case; that’s the good news. The bad news is that this is the cue for Team Rape Culture to tell us what’s really important: those poor, dear boys and their high school’s football program.
Candy Crowley, shame on you for wasting all that air time with hand-wringing over the defendants and erasing the victim. If they didn’t want their young lives derailed by rape convictions, they shouldn’t have penetrated the bodily orifices of a non-consenting person.
Judge, we do not want to send the message that it’s only a crime if you get caught.
Michael Crooke, you’re a disgusting waste of oxygen. Long walk. Short pier. Go. Now.
Soraya Chemaly has this to say about the Steubenville rape trial and the media coverage thereof:
Yesterday, in our fatiguing chronicling of rape, the Steubenville rape trial began. ABC reported that two boys “took liberties” (such an interesting turn of phrase if you think about it) with a drunk girl and now face rape charges. Attorneys for the defendants, two star football players (as everyone is intent on reminding us), argued that the boys did not rape a drunk 16-year old girl, whom they performed sexual acts on, because she “didn’t say no.” The lawyers are asking the court to believe that there was no nonconsensual contact during a long night in which these boys (just like these boys) put their fingers into the girl’s vagina, attempted to have her perform oral sex (she couldn’t hold her mouth open), allegedly urinated on her and were photographed dragging her around by her hands and feet. As one of the boys was quoted saying in a tonally rape-friendly media piece, “It just felt like she was coming on to me.” Which, of course, is clear license to treat a living girl like an inflatable silicon sex doll.
If traditional coverage and similar cases in the recent past are any indication, what will inevitably evolve in the next few weeks is a media narrative about these boys, their football aspirations, their dashed hopes, and their basic all-American Boy Goodness. The flip side of that narrative is that a drunk, possibly lying, definitely regretful, stupid, slutty, selfish and careless girl ruined their hopes for the future. She’ll be yet another “spider who lured them” and “ruined their lives.” Here is where we indulge in the national sport of victim-blaming in high-def digital. The kind that allows us to blame one person for her own assault and avoid the rigorous self-reflection necessary to understand the system that produces kids who think its okay to humiliate and violate a limp and incapacitated girl for kicks. Why aren’t we talking about why none of the 40+ teenagers involved that night were never taught to intervene, even when they understood what was going on?
I am hoping this case will be different and that we’ve reached a tipping point, but early signs aren’t particularly heartening.
This isn’t “just” about alcohol or teens or dashed football aspirations. It has much broader implications about consent and what we are failing to teach children. Alcohol and drugs don’t turn people, primarily girls and women, into rape victims. Rapists do. And while we’d like to think these things can’t be avoided and are accidental, they can be avoided and are, in fact, rarely accidental at all. These two boys may not have set out to deliberately drug the girl in question, or get her intoxicated for their purposes, but they took deliberate and aggressive advantage of the fact that she was drunk to the point of obvious and witnessed incoherence. This is done regularly with malice. Systemic tolerance for rape means they have traditionally gotten away with these crimes.
I am so, so tired of hearing about how that girl, or any other victim of sexual violence, shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. “If she hadn’t been drunk, she wouldn’t have gotten raped,” says the usual passive-voice apologism for rape. Here’s something we tend to forget: getting drunk, even to the point of puking on yourself and losing consciousness, is a morally neutral act. The resulting hangover is consequence enough. We should be shining the spotlight on the perpetrators of rape and asking them: “What the fuck is wrong with you? What makes you think it is even remotely acceptable to do that to anyone?” If all young women decided, en masse, not to drink in the presence of men, then rapists would simply choose their victims based on different criteria.
It is well past time we started talking about rape in the active voice.