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Neighborhood Safety Ghettoes in D.C.

So, there’s this poster that’s been circulating around anarchist, civil libertarian, and lefty blogs for a few months now. It’s become popular because it’s funny (in a nerdy way), and also because it makes an important point:

It has a photo of a column of people dressed as Imperial Storm Troopers from Star Wars is marching down a city street. Caption: Fascism: You really think it'll be this obvious?

But, well, the awful truth is that, as with so many other things in American politics, the answer to that rhetorical question can’t really be taken for granted, because it really depends on what kind of neighborhood you live in. The poster makes an important point addressed to, and about the daily lives of, people of a particular socioeconomic class (specifically, the people who most often spend their time reading blogs). For many if not most people in other social classes, the answer really is just, You bet it will. Or, It already is. Has been for decades. Where you been?

For example, consider the cops plans for improving neighborhood safety in the D.C. Ghetto. No, I’m not using that last word as a careless synonym for slum. I am using it in the most literal sense.

D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.

Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate Neighborhood Safety Zones. At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn't live there, work there or have legitimate reason to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.

— Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner (2008-06-04): Lanier plans to seal off rough 'hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

Guess who decides what counts as a legitimate reason for being in the neighborhood — the people who live and work in that neighborhood, or the government’s goon squad?

Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.'s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her All Hands on Deck weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.

Under today's proposal, the no-go zones will last up to 10 days, according to internal police documents. Front-line officers are already being signed up for training on running the blue curtains.

Peter Nickles, the city's interim attorney general, said the quarantine would have a narrow focus.

This is a very targeted program that has been used in other cities, Nickles told The Examiner. I'm not worried about the constitutionality of it.

— Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner (2008-06-04): Lanier plans to seal off rough 'hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

Just so we’re clear, neither am I. I couldn’t possibly care less whether surrounding poor neighborhoods with cops, giving everyone the Ihre Papiere, bitte treatment, and chopping a community up into police-occupied strategic hamlets for the purpose of a government quarantine without any probable cause whatsoever for believing that any of the individual people you will be surrounding, stopping, hassling, and threatening with jail have ever committed any crime against any identifiable victim, is or is not countenanced by the United States Constitution. Who cares? The basic problem with terrorizing and brutalizing entire neighborhoods is that it is evil and incredibly dangerous, whether or not the Constitution allows for it.

Others are. Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the D.C. police union and a former lawyer, called the checkpoint proposal breathtaking.

Shelley Broderick, president of the D.C.-area American Civil Liberties Union and the dean of the University of the District of Columbia's law school, said the plan was cockamamie.

I think they tried this in Russia and it failed, she said. It's just our experience in this city that we always end up targeting poor people and people of color, and we treat the kids coming home from choir practice the same as we treat those kids who are selling drugs.

The proposal has the provisional support of D.C. Councilman Harry Tommy Thomas, D-Ward 5, whose ward has become a war zone.

They're really going to crack down on what we believe to be a systemic problem with open-air drug markets, Thomas told The Examiner.

Thomas said, though, that he worried about D.C. moving towards a police state.

— Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner (2008-06-04): Lanier plans to seal off rough 'hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

But what the hell did D.C. Councilman Harry Tommy Thomas expect, anyway? You can’t go around pushing your paramilitary crack downs with rhetoric about war zones and then act all surprised when you get a police state. If you plan for an occupation, you can expect that you are going to get lock-downs and de facto martial law.

Radley Balko writes:

Last week, I received the following email:

I live in Eckington, a transitional neighborhood in northeast DC. I got a knock on the door this morning from a guy with ACORN (looks like a lefty community group that I'd never heard of) saying that DC police would be coming around shortly asking to search homes in the neighborhood for guns, and explaining we had the constitutional right to refuse, etc. He added that anything the police find they can use against you because you never know what a friend of a friend might have left in your house Not sure if he told me this because I had just gotten out of bed and had answered the door in my bathrobe looking disoriented, but I digress. He was handing out a packet of info from the ACLU including a nifty doorhanger you can put out that says NO CONSENT TO SEARCH OUR HOME. One of my neighbors told me the guy told them they were only doing this in poor black neighborhoods, and this notice from the ACLU that I found online seems to bear this out.

I know it's not exactly a wrong-door no-knock raid, but I am concerned because while I certainly don't want the police (or any other strangers) rummaging through my junk, I'm kind of afraid of what would happen if I refuse the search. I already live on one of those streets with the surveillance cams installed. Does my address get marked for being uncooperative or suspicious? I should mention of course that I don't own any guns and have never touched anything more powerful than a bb gun.

You are free to refuse the searches. But if a regular reader of this site feels uncomfortable asserting that right, you can imagine how other people subject to these searches might feel.

— Radley Balko, The Agitator (2008-06-04): Police State D.C.

Please also keep in mind that this is the same metro police force which will toting around AR-15 assault rifles as they surround and cordon off and do door-to-door searches and raids in these inner-city neighborhoods.

Do you feel safer now?

See also:

Over My Shoulder #30: Shana Penn on the women who built the Polish dissident press, from Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland (2005)

Here’s the rules:

  1. Pick a quote of one or more paragraphs from something you’ve read, in print, over the course of the past week. (It should be something you’ve actually read, and not something that you’ve read a page of just in order to be able to post your favorite quote.)

  2. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, more as context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than as a discussion.

  3. Quoting a passage doesn’t entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Here’s the quote. This is from the introductory chapter of Shana Penn’s 2005 study, Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland (ISBN 0-472-11385-2). Penn is discussing what she found when she went to Poland to research Solidarity, the worker’s opposition movement that played a decisive role in the collapse of martial law and the Communist regime itself in Poland during the 1980s.

The prisons and internment camps made up another major locus of dissent. After the imposition of martial law, defiantly irrepressible intellectuals such as Adam Michnik and Jacek Kuro@@c5;201e; communicated from their jail cells, appealing to the nation to stop living lies and, instead, to live as if we are free. The imprisoned writers penned dazzling essays that were smuggled to the illegal press for publication.

It was the opposition press, which flourished illegally for most of the 1970s and 1980s, that was the third of the major, nonfactory sites of resistance. That enterprising, albeit clandestine, industry, brought people together on the same page, so to speak, to get real news, not state propaganda, and to debate what an open society might look like. The illicit newspapers, magazines, bulletins, and books it published were called bibu@@c5;201a;a, the Polish term for illegal papers produced during periods of censorship. Analogous to the Russian word samizdat, to self-publish, bibu@@c5;201a;a had the advantage of being a Polish word.

It was the illegal press that provided 1970s oppositionists with a practical vehicle to activate and coalesce support from the three, very different social groups that were fundamental to making change: the Intelligencja (a nineteenth-century way of saying public intellectuals and a term that continued to be used through 1989); the Workers, with a capital W (a purely communist term that the opposition brilliantly appropriated to argue for free trade unions); and the Polish Catholic clergy, the spiritual leaders most tolerated in the antireligious Soviet Bloc. (The political restraints on their power made the clergy unusually tolerant. They turned their backs on abortion and divorce, and they assisted women activists, even those who were single mothers, such as several of the protagonists of this story.)

Significantly, the illegal press was the chief playing field on which women were able to carve out distinctive, influential roles for themselves in the opposition. They distinguished themselves as editors, publishers, journalists, and communications strategists long before the world beyond Poland’s police-patrolled borders had begun talking about the Information Age. Much of my research leading to this book was to take place in the realm of the opposition press, but I had no inkling of that when I began my journey.

Arriving in Warsaw in the summer of 1990, I was aware that women made up approximately 50 percent of Solidarity’s ten-million strong membership–proportional to women’s presence in the labor force. However, their political representation in the formal solidarity structures was significantly smaller. As one rose in the Solidarity hierarchy, the numers of women diminished. Only 7.8 percent (69) of the 881 delegates to the Solidarity Congress [in September 1981] were women; only one woman sat on the National Executive [Committee], reported U.S. historian Barbara Jancar.

As I began collecting Polish women’s stories, I kept the following questions in mind: If Solidarity’s political leadership was male dominated, in what ways, then, had women participatd? Were there particular issues or activities to which they gravitated? Did they demonstrate special organizing styles? Were there unsung heroines among them or any forgotten events?

The first clues surfaced when several women I interviewed in the summer and winter of 1990 made statements such as the following:

A group of women in Warsaw managed the Solidarity Press Agency after Solidarity was created; then they organized Tygodnik Mazowsze [Regional Weekly] during martial law; and after 1989, they created the first free press, Gazeta Wyborcza [Election Gazette].

When martial law was declared, woemn started the underground in Warsaw.

Men thought they were in charge, but women pulled all the strings.

Listening to first one woman’s memories and then another’s, I heard a subject (a group of women), a place (the Warsaw underground), an occupation (the media), and a date (after the Decemer 13 declaration of martial law) repeatedly linked. Alerted to the possibility that something of consequence might connect the individual stories being told, I formulated a new core interview question: Where were you when martial law was declared, and what did you do? The following picture emerged:

After Solidarity spent sixteen months flexing its newly legal political muscles, the government declared martial law and immediately arrested some ten thousand activists–around nine thousand men and one thousand women. With most of the male leadership either imprisoned or driven into hiding, a core group of women rose up to reconnect Solidarity’s nationwide network of contacts, to protect the leaders in hiding from the secret police, to arrange meetings, and to smuggle money and equipment into the country. By January 1982 a uniquely all-female team based in Warsaw had pulled together unions and volunteers, moved typewriters and printing presses into attics and back rooms, and begun producing Tygodnik Mazowsze, which became the voice of the Solidarity underground.

Working as a team, the women possessed the management skills, confidence, and media savvy to organize a large-scale, illegal publishing operation that served the entire nation, mobilized hundreds of thousands of individuals in support of Solidarity, and enlisted the help of thousands of supporting players–from reporters and printers to distributors and smugglers. The paper thus bolstered the growth of civil society under the repressive conditions of martial law, when it was humanly and technically almost impossible to coordinate nationwide activity.

Like nearly everyone else, the secret police were unaware that the leading newspaper of the 1980s underground was a female-run enterprise and that the thousands of people who helped produce and distribute it took their instructions from an all-woman editorial team. Blinded by sexism, the secret police hunted diligently for the men they assumed to be behind the newspaper–Solidarity men in hiding whose names had appeared in bylines. Keen to arrest and silence the paper’s key personnel, the police completely overlooked its editors and publishers–Helena Luczywo, Joanna Szcz@@c4;2122;sna, Anna Dodziuk, Anna Bikont, Zofia Bydli@@c5;201e;ska, and Malgorzata Pawlicka. They also overlooked Ewa Kulik, who coordinated the operations of the Warsaw underground in collaboration with Tygodnik Mazowsze. These seven women called themselves Damska Grupa Operacyjna (Ladies’ Operations Unit), or simply DGO, and they form the core group of this study.

Most of these women could trace their roots as oppositionists back as far as high school; many were involved in the brutally suppressed student protests of 1968; and by the mid- to late 1970s the majority had already anchored their activism in the arena of illegal publishing, which was just becoming a mainstay of the growing democratic opposition. When Solidarity became legal, many of the DGO women ran the Solidarity Press Agency, called AS, communist Poland’s first uncensored news service and digest. During martial law they made Tygodnik Mazowsze a reality. And when it was time to clear the political ground for democratic governance in 1989, they founded the first postcommunist daily, Gazeta Wyborcza.

Beginning with their work at AS, the women shaped illegal publishing into an instrument of civic activism. They made a point of building up their communication channels so they could be used to foster a well-informed society. They planned media strategies on the premise that knowledge is power and communication is the underpinning of action. By December 13, 1981, they were already skilled at publishing and distributing newspapers, organizing protests, and petitioning the government, and when martial law craced down, they reacted immediately. Determined to outmaneuver the military junta, these women were poised to lead the telerevolution.

Martial law was not a time for spectacular actions, for demonstrating, for organizing public events, or making speeches. To throw a bomb against [the authorities] would have been suicide, Polish émigré author Irena Grudzi@@c5;201e;ska-Gross told me in 1991. The road to salvation [was] in thinking and creating. … Without Tygodnik Mazowsze, the underground could not have existed. It was a form in which political opinions and declarations could be made. It was a link among people in finding sympathizers in a dangerous time when people were dispirited.

In a 1999 interview that appeared in Media Studies Journal, Polish-born journalist Anna Husarska confirmed what Irena and several Solidarity women had told me years earlier. The media and especially the print media were Solidarity. All right, Solidarity was a trade union and the workers had demands and the intellectuals supported the workers, but the civil society in Poland was built through the underground press. Almost everybody was involved in either the writing or the printing or the distributing or the transporting or even the producing of the ink. Everyone felt involved. What Husarska did not note or explore, either in this article or in her 1989 piece in the Book Section of the Sunday New York Times, were the identities of the women behind the underground press she described and analyzed.

In 1985 Barbara Jancar published an essay that discussed women’s role in the Polish opposition in the 1970s and 1980s. She concluded that Solidarity’s leadership was male dominated and that its reform agenda did not consider women’s interests outside the family. She also characterized women’s activism at the time as having been spontaneous, symbolic, and endorsed by men. While her essay remains an important introduction to gender dynamics in the Polish opposition, it does not uncover the identities or the roles of women spearheading the opposition press, who were intellectuals, not working-class women. Jancar’s main focus was on women workers because Solidarity was regarded as a working-class phenomenon. There was no indication in her findings that some women had already begun to institutionalize their distinctly female methods of operation at locations outside the realm of workers’ strikes.

The view from inside the movement looked wholly different from what those outsiders had recorded. It came as a great surprise when I listened to Wroclaw activist Barbara Labuda characterize women’s role in the underground during our first interview in 1991. Men didn’t have the skills to manage the underground. Women were the brainpower, she declared. The women chiefs, as she referred to the regional activists, rebuilt the communication channels, organized secret meetings, arranged for the transfers of money, found contacts at Western embassies, spoke to the press, and developed relations with local and foreign clergy. When Solidarity members needed aid, they came to the women. When Western reporters requested interviews, they met with the women. I gave a lot of the interviews but not in my name. I wrote all of the men’s speeches, Barbara admitted. My women friends in other regions share experiences similar to mine–we had to protect our own identities.

In order to protect their identities from discovery by the government or the secret police, the Tygodnik Mazowsze editors insisted on anonymity when speaking to the Western press and perpetuated the myth of working-class men as the superstars of resistance. They worked behind the scenes as invisible organizers in order to publicize the words, deeds, and leadership of their male colleagues. Strategically, they felt that this was the way to gain popular support and to rebuild the splintered movement. And they succeeded.

–Shana Penn (2005): Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland, ISBN 0-472-11385-2. 7–12.

Fat Tuesday Lazy Linking

Around the web in the past couple weeks. Part of the news that’s fit to link…

  • In honor of Carnival, let’s start with a couple of Carnivals. The Ninth Carnival of Feminists is up at Mind the Gap! and Philosophers’ Carnival #26 is up at Hesperus/Phosphorus. I happen to have a submission featured in each; but if you’re here you’ve probably already read them. Fortunately, like all good Carnivals, they contain multitudes. Prepare to fill out exactly one zillion tabs with excellent reading material.

  • Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2006-02-21): Spooner on Rent does his best to sort out just what Lysander Spooner’s views on land ownership and rent are. The evidence suggests that Spooner was more like Murray Rothbard and less like Benjamin Tucker on this one. Interesting mainly as a historical and exegetical question (Spooner didn’t dwell on the issue, so it’s not like a treasure trove is being discovered; and the fact that Spooner thought something hardly makes it so). But, Roderick adds, to the extent that there's any polemical payoff I suppose it's this: those anarcho-socialists who grant the title of anarchist to Tucker and Spooner but deny it to Rothbard and other so-called anarcho-capitalists on the grounds inter alia of the latter's disagreement with Tucker about land will find their position at least somewhat harder to maintain to the extent that the distance between the saved Spooner and the damned anarcho-capitalists is narrowed. Read the whole thing.

  • ginmar, A View from A Broad (2006-01-30): It doesn’t matter what you think we said…: You ever dealt with somebody who uses the word pussy in front of you–I’m speaking as a woman, here–as a synonym for cowardly, disgusting, vile–and then gets up in your face when you call them on it? Well, uh, I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t intend it like that.Not thinking is no longer proof of innocence. What it just means is that you don’t give enough of a fuck to think about it. (Boldface added.) Read the whole thing.

  • Media Matters (2006-02-14): If It’s Sunday, It’s Conservative: An analysis of the Sunday talk show guests on ABC, CBS, and NBC, 1997 – 2005: In fact, as this study reveals, conservative voices significantly outnumber progressive voices on the Sunday talk shows. Media Matters for America conducted a content analysis of ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and NBC’s Meet the Press, classifying each one of the nearly 7,000 guest appearances during President Bill Clinton’s second term, President George W. Bush’s first term, and the year 2005 as either Democrat, Republican, conservative, progressive, or neutral. The conclusion is clear: Republicans and conservatives have been offered more opportunities to appear on the Sunday shows – in some cases, dramatically so. The Right had an especially pronounced advantage when you screened out government flunkies and just looked at journalists. Read the whole thing.

  • Natalie Bennett, Philobiblon (2006-02-19): The baby choice, not the baby gap: Well I wanted many things when I was 21 – although I didn’t want children – and I don’t now want many of the same things. I didn’t want many of the same things when I was 25 or 30. At 21 you are still chiefly the product of your conditioning and upbringing – you are only just starting to grow up and construct yourself as an independent individual. No doubt many of those women later changed their minds, or decided that while a baby might be nice, it wasn’t their top priority. Also, no doubt, when they asked those early twenties women the question, they were thinking of having a baby as something that would happen in the far distant future – it is not a serious practical prospect. With, as I’ve reported before, 30 per cent plus of women in Scotland chosing not to have babies, when are the researchers (and the newspaper editors) going to recognise that this is a valid, sensible, entirely normal choice? Sometimes the demographic hand-wringers try to coerce you; other times they just try to hector you and generally treat you like an idiot. In either case, they’re acting like a bunch of bullies and need to drop it already. Anyway, read the whole thing.

  • Andy the Slack Bastard (2006-02-18): Burn-A-Flag-For-Lenin Week!: Andy has sort of an ongoing hilarious documentary on the weird, wild world of Marxist-Leninist splinter sects. It’s kind of like a form of neo-surrealist theatre in which the actors don’t realize that they’re part of a show. The latest? Confronted with a recent and continuing downturn in membership, the youth wing of the neo-Trotskyist Democratic Socialist Perspective appears to have hit upon a brand new (sic) idea to try and reverse the trend (or at least make a few dollars): selling flag-burning kits to University students. Commodification of dissent in the name of Communist dictatorship? The power is yours Australia! Read the whole thing.

  • Lab Kat (2006-02-20): The barefoot and pregnant crowd, Part III takes notice of Ypsilanti’s finest, Tom Monaghan. Now he’s planning to build his own city. No, not on rock and roll; on the mercy of Our Lady. I’m all for this clown building his own city. Get all the religious right nutjobs in the country to move there, away from those of us who don’t buy their dogmatic horseshit. Let them go play in their La-La Land while the rest of us live in the real world. Read the whole thing.

  • Meghan Sapp, Women’s eNews (2006-02-20): Fight to End Mutilation Hits Gritty Juncture looks at the hard work to come in the struggle against female genital mutilation in Africa: moving from international sentiments and governmental resolutions to actual change on the ground. Amid the surge in activities and reports, campaigners against the practice find themselves at a critical juncture. For nearly three years, they have been focused on persuading African Union leaders to ratify the Maputo Protocol. But now that is done, application of the anti-FGM provision at the national and local levels becomes the gritty political challenge. Of the 28 countries where genital mutilation is practiced, 14 countries have passed anti-FGM laws. But only Burkina Faso, Ghana and Kenya actively uphold those laws, according to the London-based Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development. Countries faced international pressure to ratify the Maputo Protocol, but within their own societies they face the opposition of many traditional ruling classes to cultural change. Read the whole thing.

  • Kieran Healy, Crooked Timber (2006-02-11): The Papers Continue Fatuous looks on aghast as Andrew Sullivan happily reprints e-mails from his ever-present Anonymous Liberal Reader explicitly pondering genocide against Muslims in Europe. Here’s the word from Betty Bleedheart: I'm honestly starting to suspect that, before this is over, European nations are going to have exactly four choices in dealing with their entire Moslem populations–for elementary safety's sake: (1) Capitulate totally to them and become a Moslem continent. (2) Intern all of them. (3) Deport all of them. (4) Throw all of them into the sea. Kieran adds: It's a hollow joke that Sullivan's blog is graced by a tag-line taken from Orwell–and one about not being able to see what's in front of your face, at that. … I certainly hope European countries are not about to capitulate to demands from some radical muslims that civil society be brought to an end for the sake of the prophet's honor. … Nor, I take it, are they about to round up and dump all of them (for any value of them) into the sea. And if some countries have started down one or other of those roads, it certainly isn't because some clerical thugs are so awesomely powerful that they are in a position to destroy the institutions of western democracy. You'll have to look elsewhere to find people with the leverage to do real damage there. Read the whole thing.

  • tiffany at BlackFeminism.org (2006-02-20): SXSW Collective Brainstorming: Are you a gay blogger or a blogger who is gay? and Tensions between being speaking for yourself or for a group looks at identity blogging and asks some hard questions for those who do (or don’t) care to do it. Read the whole thing.

  • Marjorie Rosen, Los Angeles Times (2006-02-19): The lady vanishes — yet again takes an all-too-uncritical but sometimes interesting look at the declining prospects for women in the Hollywood star system. One of the better moments: The studios are nothing if not practical, suggests Michael Seitzman, the screenwriter of North Country. Hollywood would give a role to my dog if it would bring in an audience. The real question is not Why isn’t Hollywood creating roles for women? It’s Why aren’t audiences going to see them? Men aren’t interested in seeing movies about women anymore, but from the response to movies like In Her Shoes, it appears that women aren’t, either. But there may be a perception problem here. Could it be that because Hollywood produces so few movies featuring women’s stories, each one is held up to cold, hard and — dare I say it? — unfair scrutiny? Read the whole thing.

  • moiv, media girl (2006-02-21): If You Can’t Get EC at St. Elsewhere, Call Boston Legal, meanwhile, catches us up on the wit and wisdom of Catholic League president William Donahue, who informs us that the real problem is that Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a secret, okay? And I’m not afraid to say it. … Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost. Oh it gets better — Donahue’s keeping files, you see. Big fat ones. Read the whole thing.

  • The Guardian NewsBlog (2006-02-20) reports that the occupation may soon be over, troops drawn down, and genuine independence at hand after a tricky political process … in Kosovo. Black Looks (2006-02-19) reports on the violence leading up to putatively open elections in Uganda. (All in the name of counter-terrorism, of course.) Ryan W. McMacken, LewRockwell.com Blog (2006-02-21) finds that red-blooded Iranians aren’t above some good old Liberty Cabbage idiocy.

  • The Guardian NewsBlog (2006-02-21): Milton Keynes: Shia inspiration watches the End of History rising over the ruins of Najaf, with a bit of help from the military-industrial complex. Come watch as the mauling of a holy city by the Warfare State is followed up with the worst that coercive, centralized Urban Renewal has to offer. For those who want to return to the glory days of Soviet-era architecture in Warsaw, I suppose. Read the whole thing.

  • rabble at Anarchogeek (2006-02-22): On the futility of creative commons suggests that the increasingly ubiquitous Creative Commons stickers and tags are useless, because they cater too much to the whims of publishers and don’t take a principled stand in favor of freedom. Looking through the guide, i realize that it’s not possible simply to replace the CC with something else. The problem is not that there aren’t good licenses, rather that the cultural war over ideas is being lost. We need a concept like GPL compatible or maybe even the less radical OSI compliant. I think that this may miss the point of what CC’s out to do in the first place, but it’s an interesting debate. Read the whole thing.

  • Jill, feministe (2006-02-20): Categorizing Race in the Bookstore reflects on the assets and liabilities of the African-American Interest (Women’s Studies, GLBT) bookshelves at your friendly neighborhood bookstore. Ghettoization? Useful classification? Both? Neither? Read the whole thing.

  • Discourse.net (2006-02-25): Florida Cops Intimidate Would-be Complainants picks out an amazing transcript of an attempt to get an official complaint form from the pigs. Via Boing-boing, a link to this absolutely amazing piece of investigative reporting: Police Station Intimidation–Parts 1 and 2 in which CBS4 News found that, in police departments across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, large and small, it was virtually impossible to walk in the door, and walk out with a complaint form. … The TV station that broke the story reports that Remarkably, of 38 different police stations tested around South Florida, all but three had no police complaint forms yet it nonetheless felt obligated to introduce its report by saying that Most police officers are a credit to the badge, serving the community and the people who pay their salary, getting criminals off the street, making the community safer for everyone. Guess none of those guys happen to work the front desk, eh? Read the whole thing.

  • Echidne of the Snakes (2006-02-18): Virgins Matter More reports on how a man in Italy got a reduction in his sentence for raping his 14 year old stepdaughter because she wasn’t a virgin at the time she was raped. Because, you see, being forced to have sex against your will isn’t so bad if you’ve had sex already. The supreme court, apparently quoting from an amicus brief filed by Humbert Humbert, mused that the victim’s personality, from a sexual point of view, is much more developed than what would be normally expected of a girl of her age. Read the whole thing. But only on an empty stomach.

  • Laurelin in the Rain (2006-02-21): The Patriarchy Phrasebook: Occasionally (actually make that all the damn time), we rad fems find ourselves visited by Ambassadors from Planet Patriarchia, who speak in a language that is hard to understand, mostly because it's less of a language and more of a code consisting of standard statements and arrogant presumptions. But never fear, for I am here with my dictionary of Commonly Used Phrases of Patriarchal Lackeys. These phrases are found variously in patriarchal literature, common conversation, newspapers, TV programmes, blog comments and shouted slogans when you're minding your own frickin' business. Read the whole thing.

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