Rad Geek People's Daily

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Posts from 2001

Top-down and Bottom-Up Models for Online Politics

Scott Reents and Thomas Hill have written an interesting article on why political sites fail, and what they can do about it [Democracy Project]. Bottom line: political sites fail because they are based on the one-way model of traditional campaign media. As the authors put it:

In particular, current political sites are failing to adhere to the new rules of the "citizen-centric" Internet. Because the Internet puts citizens in control over the information they access, it requires that political organizations think and act as service providers to, rather than as mobilizers of online constituents. A citizen-centric campaign recognizes that it is most powerful when it practices the enlightened self-interest of true cooperation, ceding control to citizens as the most effective way to accomplish shared goals.

It’s worth noting that the most continually successful politically-oriented sites on the web are services such as Independent Media Center and Free Republic, Feminist Majority Foundation Choices Campus Community, and innumerable e-mail listservs all over the Internet, which center around forums for user-contributed content.

My hope is that the trends exemplified by Internet users here will successfully drive political candidates and groups more and more towards bottom-up, participatory democracy as the primary form of web interaction, that the mood of the Internet user will force them to adopt this strategy in order to survive. The Internet as it stands if full of limitations – we need to work hard at making Internet access and resources more available to people in poverty, making it a less toxic space for women, and developing software and hardware that empower users apart from mega-corps like AOHell-Time Warner and Microsoft and Netscape). But I hope and believe that it can also be opening up a horizon for truly democratic spaces in ways that traditional media have systematically ruled out. We have a great hope of winning this one, if we fight.

For further reading:

WOMB Rally for Reproductive Rights in Michigan

For any readers I may have in Michigan: A while ago I ran across the page for Women Outraged by Michigan Bureaucracy (WOMB), an active pro-choice group spearheaded by Flint feminists. They’re doing work around the Michigan state government’s hostility towards abortion access, as well as general feminist organizing. Check them out!

The End of Free

The End of Free is a weblog chronicling the dying of free/ad-supported content and the transition to fee services "and beyond." (Here’s hoping that the beyond includes a good micropayment scheme in the very near future, because if it keeps going the way of subscription services, the prospects are grim.

For further reading:

  • GT 10/5/2001 Salon makes itself more useless to web readers
  • GT 6/9/2001 Feed and Suck go under
  • GT 3/23/2001 Salon announces death of free content on the web with the introduction of their for-pay premium service

Alabama Church Didn’t Investigate Charges of Misconduct, Pastor Sexually Exploits 14-Year-Old Girl

Over the course of a year, a pastor at an Alabama church sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl who was entrusted to his class for adolescents for sexual abstinence. [LegalVote]. The church was warned repeatedly: first about his use of his position at a former church to gain sexual favors from other women, and then directly confronted with a lewd e-mail that he had sent to the young woman. But they refused to investigate or reconsider his position. When he was finally caught kissing the girl, he was dismissed and has been convicted of statutory rape. Due to their irresponsible refusal to investigate the pastor when they were warned, the mother has sued the church on charges of negligence.

The church, disgustingly, is planning to fight in court and will not take accountability. They claim they have no responsibility for the actions of their employee, even though they were repeatedly warned about his predatory behavior, and then they argue this as a defense: "Anne P. lives with a single mother, and there is some likelihood that the girl was exposed to promiscuity at home that may have prompted her to seek out a voluntary sexual relationship with the youth minister."

Um. What the hell? First of all, this is overt victim-blaming. We have enough child molestors making the bullshit claim that the children "initiated" and asked to be fucked by a grown man. Do we need a church to take up the same bullshit argument on their behalf? Second, it’s absolutely irrelevant. What part of "statutory rape" do they not understand? The pastor’s sexual relationship with the girl was a crime no matter what the situation was, and the church has a responsibility to look into the allegations that he abused his position in the church for sexual favors. The insults they are hurling against the girl and her mother are simply prejudicial, irrelevant bullshit.

LegalVote is asking for your opinion on the case. I’ve added my own comments below.

The D. Church’s behavior was clearly irresponsible and horrendously negligent. As an institution trusted with the care of children the Church MUST take every effort to investigate the background of members who would be spending time with children in order to protect its children’s safety. Yet rather than taking careful responsibility, D. Church has a history of employing sexually manipulative and predatory men in this position–while Rev. S. did not commit the kind of grave sexual abuse that Rev. D. did, he clearly saw his position as a safe place from which to try to manipulate women into sexual encounters.

D. Church was warned about Rev. D’s past sexually manipulative behavior. Sexual relationships with adult women certainly aren’t the same as statutory rape of a 14 year old young woman, but it does reveal a history of abusing his situation to manipulate women into sexual encounters. Even worse, they were confronted with direct evidence that he was sexually exploiting Anne P. Yet they did not even investigate the charges. I understand that they cannot simply take action without an investigation, but to not even begin the investigation is unconscionable.

Furthermore, I was disgusted to see what D. Church considers to be a defense: “Anne P. lives with a single mother, and there is some likelihood that the girl was exposed to promiscuity at home that may have prompted her to seek out a voluntary sexual relationship with the youth minister.” This is nothing more but the same old revolting blaming of the victim that has happened over and over again in sexual abuse cases. What part of "statutory rape" does D. Church not understand? It is Anne P.’s fault that Rev. D. abused his position of trust and power to manipulate and sexually exploit her, and the disgusting suggestion that D. Church is any less accountable because they think she might have been "asking for it" is revolting.

Furthermore, the mother’s failure to act may be reason for pursuing a claim of negligent child endangerment against the mother… but it is not any reason to absolve D. Church of its accountability for ignoring the sexually predatory behavior of its trusted employees.

D. Church should take accountability for its failure to act and the damage that has inflicted on one young woman. If they attempt to fight this in court, particularly on the basis of their revolting victim-blaming arguments, they will only further continue their pattern of revolting negligence and refusal to take accountability.

What the fucking hell was he thinking?

(link provided courtesy of one angry girl)

Brothers in Spirit

photo: James Doolin and Ron Jeremy yuk it up at domestic violence

Domestic Violence: endorsed by dipshit porn stars

photo: Members of Delta Sigma Phi at Auburn University yuk it up at Klan lynchings

The Klan: endorsed by dipshit frat boys

The day after I had a perfectly lovely evening watching the vigilante-feminist classic Girls Town, and on what had been a perfectly good morning of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I had my day ruined by this. It is such a fucking insult to the simple decency and intelligence of humankind that I can barely convince myself that it is real and not some kind of ill-conceived feminist parody. James Doolin of Dallas has set up Wife-Beaters.com T-shirts, an online catalogue selling white undershirts (often called wifebeaters) with the words Wife Beater across the breast of the shirt. The festive website features a posed background image of a man spanking a woman in his wife beater shirt, Prodigy’s song Smack My Bitch Up blaring in the background, a Wife Beater Hall of Fame including celebrity batterers, rapists, and murderers such as Ike Turner, Mike Tyson, John Wayne Bobbit, and O.J. Simpson. I wish to God I were making this up—as added jokes Doolin offers a Lil’ Beater shirt for infants, and offers a special rewarding convicted batterers: he will send a second shirt at half price if you enclose proof of a domestic violence offense you committed.

Look, I know this dipshit is trying to be provocative. I know that he’s exploiting controversy to sell his dumb-assed product. But what the fuck is wrong with him that he could possibly even begin to think this is remotely amusing? Listen, in the United States there are three times more shelters for animals than there are for battered women. One out of every four women will suffer partner violence in her lifetime. The overwhelming majority of murders, stalkings, rapes, assaults, and all other forms of violence against women are committed by their partners or spouses. I have seen domestic violence inflicted on too many people I love—a friend’s sister was sent to the emergency room by her stepfather beating the shit out of her; in my own family, a cousin and aunt of mine were viciously beaten by a motherfucker who thought wife beating was not a big deal. And Doolin thinks that this is all hy-larious? Look, bucko, not everything is a joke. This shit has a very real, blood-soaked, meaning. And I wish I had some words other than inarticulate swearing to express how horrendous, how enraging this is. I’m sure it’s really fucking funny to you, Doolin. We’ll see how funny it is when it’s someone you love in the emergency room.

For further reading:

Take action! Write James Doolin at his oh-so-droll e-mail address bruised@wife-beaters.com and let him know exactly what you think of him. Then, go to StopFamilyViolence for what you can do to help stop domestic violence. Finally, if you have any money, please consider contributing to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence or your own state’s chapter of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence so that they can continue to do their life-saving work in providing safehouses for battered women.

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