Posts from February 2008

Disclaimer

I’ve been putting in some tweaks to the page layout, as you may have noticed, and, while I was at it, the appearance of one too many animated ads for the Fighting Uruk-Hai of Arizona in my sidebar finally inspired me to revise and expand my ad disclaimer. As you can see, if you scan over to the right, it now reads: Views inscribed in the Rad Geek People’s Daily are mine, and may not be those of sponsors. Google ads are served algorithmically, without individual review, so contrariwise, an ad’s appearance does not imply my endorsement of the sponsor.

To be fair, the Adsense management interface does have a provision for screening out future appearances of particular ads, after-the-fact, if you catch one that you don’t want them to appear on your page. On the other hand, I should hope that most of my readership is not about to vote for Gothmog. And if I let the ads appear, then, should anyone happen to click on a McCain ad, that means a little more money is taken away from the McCain 2008 Presidential campaign, and given to me instead. Which seems like a particularly sweet sort of revenge.

Yes, yes. I know that, if you go by the depiction in the Peter Jackson movie, Gothmog is not one of the Uruk-Hai, but rather an Orc of Minas Morgul. I’m taking some liberties. If you don’t like it, take me to Nerd Court.

Semantic quibbles #3: Conservatism

Here’s Mike Tennant at LewRockwell.com Blog, quasi-approvingly quoting Jacob Heilbrunn’s summary of Bill Buckley:

Jacob Heilbrunn writes: Buckley wasn’t a radical conservative. He didn’t believe in trying to destroy the Eastern Establishment; instead, he wanted to reform it. Therein lies the entire problem.

Hold up. I’m lost.

In what possible sense of the word conservative is it a genuine conservative’s goal either to smash or to reform the ancien régime?

Maybe this political debate is really about something other than what Tennant, or Heilbrunn, or for that matter Buckley, thinks it is about.

Further reading:

The Genital Correctness Busybody Blowhard Brigade

(Story via Holly @ feministe 2008-02-17. Video thanks to GLAAD 2008-02-13.)

There are a couple of different points to make about conservative reactions to the recent story of a government elementary school in Douglas County, Colorado making some accommodations for a transgender girl in the second grade. Both are well illustrated by the ridiculous discussion of the story by professional blowhard Neil Cavuto on Fox News.

The first point to make is about the first-order issue — how to run an elementary school and what to do if a kid who has been living and attending school as a boy decides that she wants to live as a girl instead. As far as this goes, Cavuto’s reaction is based on a tissue of nastiness, nonsense, and a few plain lies. As far as I can tell, for example, the claim that any student other than this little girl will be using unisex bathrooms is simply false — the school will have its normal girls’ and boys’ bathrooms; the girl in question just won’t be forced to use them. The claim that it will cost millions of dollars also seems to be something that Cavuto just made up out of thin air; the school already has plenty of bathrooms, doesn’t need to build more, and is just reclassifying a couple of already-existing bathrooms — which from the sound of it are probably single-stall rooms in the teacher’s lounge, or something similar — for this girl’s use. More broadly, the entire discussion is premised on the positively bizarre notion that the school should be ragged on for bending over backwards to suit this girl’s delicate sensibilities, just so long as they don’t follow the Genital Correctness Busybody Blowhard Brigade in deliberately trying to make the kid’s life more unpleasant, e.g. by refusing to call her by her chosen name, or by forcing her to use the boys’ bathroom when she doesn’t want to use it, or by refusing to intervene against bullies as they would with any other child being bullied for any other reason, or by harassing her, punishing her, or throwing her out of school for wearing the wrong set of clothes. Apparently it’s the acme of liberal hypersensitivity and authoritarian political correctness run amok, and indeed it’s robbing children everywhere of their childhood (!), if you should ever fail to go out of your way to be as obnoxious as possible toward an eight-year-old kid, who never did anything to you, all in the name of heteropatriarchal gender-role social engineering.

The second point to make is about a second-order issue — whether or not the local government in Douglas should be taking a role in promoting one way of running a school or interacting with transgender students over others. Cavuto tries to invoke the issue implicitly by repeatedly referring to tax dollars, and although his specific claims about millions of tax dollars are obvious bullshit, there is a legitimate point buried under it. It should not be the local government’s business to promote either a tolerant or a punitive school environment for this kid — because while I think it’s stupid for any school to harass this kid or try to force her into the right gender identity, I also think that it is tyrannical for any government to force local taxpayers to pay for projects that they personally find abhorrent (whether because they are being forced to pay for violations of their own religious beliefs, or for any other reason). Nor should local parents be forced to enroll their kids in a school that allows openly transgender students to participate in classes. Again, I think that’s a stupid policy to make, but is tyrannical for the government to force parents to put their children in environments that they deeply believe that their children shouldn’t be in.

If we had an argument to the effect that local taxpayers should be able to withhold funding from schools that establish policies they consider wrongheaded, or to the effect that anti-trans local parents should be free to withdraw their kids from this school and make other arrangements (homeschooling, parochial schooling, or whatever), without having to jump the government’s normal punitive bureaucratic hurdles, and without being forced to continue paying for a school that they no longer feel to be fit to educate children, then I would be perfectly willing to take their side on that one — I may disagree with everything that they want to teach kids, but I’ll defend to the death their right to teach it. But, of course, principled small-government conservatives that they are, Cavuto and the rest of the GCBBB are constitutionally incapable of making that kind of second-order argument. Instead, we find a lot of phony-concern hand-wringing from letter writers about local government and school authorities promoting gender confusion, deviance, professional help, a lifetime of pain, etc. (As far as I can tell there’s no evidence that the girl is at all confused; she seems to be pretty clear on what she wants. And there’s no reason to believe that her decision to live as a girl promises a lifetime of pain, unless and except to the extent that other people, i.e. these same busybody blowhards, go out of their way to make it painful. There’s no promise here; only a threat.) But it is no more the job of government authorities to promote conformity to traditional gender roles and their assignment based on biological sex, than it is their job to promote the opposite; it would be just as immoral as them to force me to pay for harassing and penalizing transgender children who would otherwise be happy as clams until they fit back into their proper gender, when I consider that abhorrent. Cavuto, meanwhile, shows his principled conservative bona fides by arguing that no matter how many transgender kids there may be in elementary schools, they are far from the majority. We live in a country where majority rules, which apparently, to his mind, means that when 99% of kids follow traditional gender norms for the sex they were assigned at birth, it must be the government’s job to direct school authorities to treat the remaining 1% like shit, so as to spare the 99% from the terrible confusion of possibly learning something. The majority rules, the minority drools, and if you don’t like it they’ll force you to pay for their Right-wing social engineering anyway. And, oh yes, you will pay.

Further reading:

How Jason Smathers learned to stop worrying and trust the State

From Jason Smathers’s report on Wendy McElroy’s recent anti-voting lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

You put your trust in the state because it filters out complexities of life you either cannot manage on your own or see no need to. Why do people obey unjust laws? Because — for the majority, in most cases — it’d be a whole lot more problematic and chaotic without the system there. I may recognize that a war we’re involved in is unjust, but I don’t attempt to overthrow the government because the state simplifies my life in ways that more directly affect me.

Well. I, for one, know that if I were an Iraqi child, I would be happy to die so that Jason Smathers can live a simpler life.

Cops are here to protect you. (#2)

(This story via Hear Me Roar 2008-02-20 and a private correspondent.)

Trigger warning: The police surveillance video, news story, photos, and text comments from freelance thugs, which this story reports on, may be triggering for past experiences of violence. (Note added 2008-03-18.)

Here is something that I wrote a couple years ago about the State and its efforts to protect the hell out of us all whether we want it to or not:

The State is, as Catharine MacKinnon says, male in the political sense. But not only because the law views women’s civil status through the lens of male supremacy (although it certainly does). It is also because the male-dominated State relates to all of its subjects like a battering husband relates to the household of which he has proclaimed himself the head: by laying a claim to protect those who did not ask for it, and using whatever violence and intimidation may be necessary to terrorize them into submitting to his protection. The State, as the abusive head of the whole nation, assaults the innocent, and turns a blind eye to assaults of the innocent, when it suits political interest — renamed national interest by the self-proclaimed representatives of the nation. It does so not because of the venality or incompetance of a particular ruler, but rather because that is what State power means, and that is what the job of a ruler is: to maintain a monopoly of coercion over its territorial area, as a good German might tell you, and to beat, chain, burn, or kill anyone within or without who might endanger that, whether by defying State rule, or by simply ignoring it and asking to be left alone.

— GT 2006-05-11: Quidditative essence

I didn’t mean the analogy between government protection and domestic violence quite this literally, but, well, here we are.

This is how government cops protect you: by beating the shit out of a suspect woman after she’s already been handcuffed, turning off the camera so that they won’t be caught on tape doing it, and then claiming that the reason she ended up lying a pool of her own blood in the middle of the room, with two black eyes, a broken nose, and missing teeth, was that she tried to leave the room and fell and hurt herself in the process. He didn’t do it, and besides, even if he did, she was belligerent (which, since there’s no evidence of her trying to use physical force against the cop at any point, is cop-speak for mouthing off).

Here is a photo of the injuries to Angela Garbarino's face, including a broken nose, cuts on her cheek, two huge black eyes, and bruises around her mouth.

She fell.

Please note that the explicit reason for this violent creep handcuffing her, slamming her up against the wall, and then beating the hell out of her was that there are rules you have to follow (where there are is cop-speak for I make, and you have to means or else), which rules absolutely require that you keep her in a tiny room no matter what, by any means necessary, and don’t set aside your paperwork for even a moment so that she can call somebody to let them know where she is. No matter how easy it would be for you to do so, and no matter how quickly that would de-escalate an extremely stressful situation.

Please also note that, because Wiley Willis is a cop and his victim, Angela Garbarino, is not, so far the only consequences that this violent sociopath — who had already been named in at least two unrelated brutality complaints in the past two years — is that he was given a paid vacation for three months, and then finally lost his job after an administrative hearing. But in the view of other Shreveport cops, Willis deserves this proverbial walk around the block because After reviewing the evidence, we decided it was something that needed to be handled internally and that it was not enough to pursue criminal charges. Nowadays, thanks to the concerted struggle of our feminist foremothers to reform the police and courts’ handling of violence against women, if any man who didn’t sport a badge and a uniform had been alone in a closed room with a woman who ended up getting hurt so bad she needed to be hospitalized, with a video clearly showing him shoving her around, handcuffing her, slamming her against the wall, and then deliberately turning the tape off up until she ended up bruised and bleeding, that man would be in jail right now on charge of assault and battery. Even without such comprehensive evidence almost any court would long ago have issued a restraining order against the violent pig. I’ll bet that there are a lot of people in Shreveport who wish they could get one of those against Wiley Willis and the paramilitary force that employed him.

Meanwhile, the mainstream news media, while Very Disturbed, are still willing to call this videotaped brutality a classic case of he-said / she-said, and the Fraternal Order of Pigs and Willis’s lawyer are trying to get him put back on the force.

In the YouTube comments thread, you can find the usual sado-fascist bully brigade of police enablers, one of whom summarizes the situation as follows:

She was very cooperative when the officer was polite to her and did not yell or demand anything…Yah right! Saying the word Miss and Mam didnt do any good. She decided to get drunk and stupid, not follow directions, would jerk away,and thought she was in charge. When she got arrested she needed to shut her cock-holster! The officer cant make her take the test. All he had to do was state she refused to take the test and be done with it. She got the best of him because now she will get paid.

Another adds:

she’s a woman. act like a lady or get treated like a man. she got much better treatment than a man would even after she kept disobeying

His conclusion (and I am quoting): the b(((* was asking for it.

Back in Ohio, here’s how newspaper epistolator William McClelland, of Lake Township, responded to Bonnie Yagiela’s letter on the police’s beating and gang-rape of Hope Steffey, in which Yagiela stated that I was disgusted and appalled but not surprised. The behavior they displayed is typical of humans placed in a position of power and authority over others. McClelland replies:

I wasn’t there, nor have I ever been to Abu Ghraib; therefore, I am not qualified to offer expert analysis as to the events that occurred at either. However, I do know that making generalizations about humans placed in a position of power and authority over others is grossly unfair to the many who serve our nation.

… Maybe the handling of Ms. Steffey was not properly conducted; maybe it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I do know that Sheriff Swanson has requested outside assistance from the Ohio attorney general’s office in investigating the incident, and I am willing to await its findings before I make judgment.

Should the investigation prove that the deputies involved did abuse their authority, I will then consider them responsible individually. I will not hold every human being in a position of authority, or every deputy in the sheriff’s office, accountable for the actions of a few.

McClelland’s position on the particular case — which he fraudulently passes off as a critical suspension of judgment, when in fact it is nothing more than overt denialism toward obvious abuse captured on film — is objectionable enough by itself. But what’s even more foolish, and extremely dangerous in the long run, is the notion that a tightly-organized class of people, who exercise such a tremendous advantage over the rest of us in both physical force and legal power, ought to be given every benefit of the doubt when they’re accused of hurting people that they willingly chose to put under their legally-backed and heavily-armed power, and that the basic institutional structures which back up their power cannot be called into question without unfair generalization or stereotyping. When every fucking week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police department almost invariably doing everything in its power to conceal, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, it defies reason to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here. What you have is one of two things: either a professionalized system of control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people, or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

Further reading: