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04 March, 2012

Sunday Roundup

Here are some things that are terrible and some that might make your day. I don't always have time to do much reading, but this week, I've been somehow motivated by a looming assignment to poke around the Internet and stay aware. Now I'll post these for your perusal and comment and scamper off to my studies, minus one tool of procrastination.

There's an article by the author behind TransGriot placing a spotlight on African American trans trailblazers at EBONY.

By the way, if you're not convinced that representation of difference is important ("Oh, this just contributes to racial divisions!"), I direct you here: "Why I Don't Want to Talk About Race" and "Damn, Let Some Black Transpeople Get Some Positive Ink!"

From a blogger I discovered through TransGriot, a post about the tricky situation of being intimate with someone who has institutional power -- specifically, "I confess, I'd date a po-po". One of my best friends wanted to be a cop ... let me tell you, that made me uncomfortable for a long time, and I'm just a white person with long hair and a beard. If tie-die makes me feel like a target, I can only imagine how this writer feels -- oh wait, I don't have to imagine because I can listen to her instead.

From The Atlantic, Who is the aggressor in the culture wars? And, in a related post from the Good Men Project, a writer investigates "The New Bigotry" of reacting to ideology rather than investigating the origins of an opponent's stance. (Protip: this is not new.)

Speaking of culture wars, someone at Tiger Beatdown is writing about a ban on students' wearing clothing "not in keeping with a student’s gender" (because all that messy bullying could be avoided if people just stopped making a fuss and got in line -- do you have any idea how much time and effort it takes to deal with these little squirts and their scuffles?).

Next, how do I know that we live in a police state? Why am I not just unimpressed by the war on drugs but actually convinced that it's a paper-thin excuse for easy frame jobs and a reason to expand funding for the police force and the prison industry? Look at who's behind bars for what. Do you remember, back in 2009 or so, hearing about the Jena Six? They're free ... but that's not the end of the story.

In a vaguely related article, this time tied in with the current reactionary politics of reproduction that are enjoying a resurgence in the States, a nurse is being charged with murder for breastfeeding her newborn while taking pain medications, a choice she made on the advice of medical professionals. Despite a lack of evidence that these chemicals can even be passed through milk in significant amounts and a further lack of evidence that the medications would be harmful even if they were passed to an infant, Stephanie Green and other women are being prosecuted (and in several cases imprisoned) on the flimsiest of evidence as if they were abusive parents.

Remember how I mentioned Archie Comics two posts ago? At least they're showcasing gay characters, although probably in a culturally normative light (one of the characters is even in the military ... but, hell, so was one of my gay relatives; I'm not complaining much here. It's just Archie Comics.) Bonus points for someone actually using the "it's too complicated for children" argument -- I kinda thought that was a straw man people used in pro-diversity messages.

A look at the rhetoric and logic on both -- no, several -- sides in the tense Iran - Israel - United States situation. "The flaws of the different sets of policies employed by the different parties are like an avalanche of chickens coming home to roost. In the U.S. there seems to be a belief that the formula 'pressure on Iran equals concessions at the negotiation table' is open ended, i.e the more the better with no end in sight. The Israelis in turn try and top this by constantly reminding everyone that if Iran does not give in (totally if one is to believe the Israeli red line of zero enrichment) war is always a viable option. The Iranians in turn think their way to a strong negotiation position is to tell everyone how dangerous they are and thus in no mood or need for making concessions."

Having just looked at emotions and rhetoric in politics, here follow two links about emotion and the way it's treated rhetorically, each from Alas! A Blog: On Excess and On Anger.

Finally, some good news in advertising. Perhaps you know that Rush Limbaugh's radio show is the most popular commercial radio show in the U.S.A. (How is this possible? I can't believe I'm typing that.) This joker has said a lot of horrible things and probably a few reasonable ones, but recently, he crossed a new and special line when he said, "What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [that's Sandra Fluke, law student, age 30] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex -- what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex." If you can't see how many things are wrong with that statement, I'm not wasting my time on you: people have covered the human costs of that attitude, search engines exist, grow a pair (of prefrontal lobes) and educate yourself.

Here's the surprise: seven businesses (to date!) who have long been comfortable promoting their products at the expense of the people Rush Limbaugh's show harms and filling his pockets with their advertising dollars have now pulled their support from his show. Said the owner of Carbonite, "We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.” Taking a stand on these issues at the cost of losing a large advertising audience is a meaningful sacrifice. Any advertiser should be ashamed to be associated with a person who chooses to engage in that kind of rhetoric, as should anyone purchasing from such a company and thus funneling your money toward Rush Limbaugh and the bullying and simplemindedness that his voice encourages. We could all learn from that example.

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