Saturday, March 31, 2007

Finally: some GOOD news

Via Anti-Essentialist Conundrum:

Shaquanda Cotton [to be] released

also at the Chicago Tribune

HOUSTON -- Shaquanda Cotton, the black teenager in the small east Texas town of Paris whose prison sentence of up to 7 years for shoving a teacher's aide sparked nationwide controversy, will be released Saturday morning, prison officials confirmed on Friday.

Her release, ordered by a special conservator appointed to overhaul the state's scandal-ridden juvenile prison system, is the first of what could be hundreds as a panel of civil rights leaders begins reviewing the sentences of every youth incarcerated by the Texas Youth Commission to weed out those being held arbitrarily.


"We have no confidence in the system that was in place," said Jim Hurley, spokesman for the conservator, Jay Kimbrough. "And this case is an example of what we expect to happen if something wrong has been done to youths being held inside that system.

...Cotton, who is 15, had no prior criminal record when she was incarcerated a year ago under an indeterminate sentence that could have lasted until her 21st birthday. Her case rose to national prominence and became the focus of ongoing civil rights protests after a March 12 Tribune story detailed how a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson was sentenced to probation by the same judge.

Cotton's case occurred against a backdrop of persistent allegations of racial discrimination inside the Paris public schools—allegations that are the subject of a continuing probe by the U.S. Department of Education to determine whether black students in the district are disciplined more harshly than whites.

"When I learned about this case, I thought, this just looks so bad and smells so bad it made me hurt," said state Rep. Harold Dutton, the influential chairman of the Texas Legislature's juvenile justice committee. "I told [prison officials] I wanted her out of there immediately."

he superintendent of the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood, Texas, where Shaquanda Cotton is being held, called the girl's mother, Creola Cotton, Friday afternoon and told her she could come pick up the youth, Creola Cotton said.

But because it is a five-hour drive from Paris to Brownwood, and the weather in the area on Friday was severe, Creola Cotton said she couldn't reach the prison until Saturday morning.

Later Friday, prison officials, who had not told Shaquanda of her impending release, allowed her to call her mother.

'She nearly fell on the floor'

"She thought they were bringing her to the office to tell her I was not going to be able to visit this weekend like I was planning because of the bad weather, so she was already crying," Creola Cotton said. "I said, 'Oh, I'm still gonna come see you tomorrow. But you're going to be coming home with me.' She nearly fell on the floor."



Feminists Don't Bake Bread has a roundup of especially charming comments levelled at various feminist blogs, the gist of which being that "men are animals" and can't be expected to control themselves, therefore rape is womens' fault.

the title of the post, "The Radical Idea That Men Are Not Monsters," particularly astute.

Because, she goes on to talk about the pervasive idea that feminists hate men; and the thing is: men like this actually hate men pretty well all by themselves. Yeah, I said -men-, not just women. "Men are animals." Seriously, why is that idea so appealing? Because the only possible alternative is considered even worse? How fucked up is that?

Friday, March 30, 2007

she's right, you know

Emily1 (there are -way- too many Emilys in my personal 'sphere. -way-. cut it out, will you? all you Emilys with your "E's" and your "y's" and your...confusingness), that is, here:

at the end of my last comment on this thread, i demonstrated a profound and astonishing ability to state the obvious: atrios and markos attained their A list status because _everyone_ links to them. A list blogs have a strong tendency to link only to each other. however, the A list pioneers did not make themselves into A listers. they got where they are because lesser known bloggers linked to them in increasing numbers.

while A listers individually have the power to be kingmakers, the multitude of lesser known blogs hasn't lost its ability to do the same. standing outside the warm glow of the A list circle jerk and crying because the kool kidz won't invite you to their parties is the fastest way to get labeled a whiny loser whether it's true or not. it only increases the A list aura because kool kidz get to be kool kidz only because of all the people pining away for their approval and attention. if no one gave a crap, or if most people managed to pretend that they didn't, the kool kidz would magically transform into dorks with unjustifiably large egos.

the crowd outside the A list circle is bigger and more diverse than the A list. if you're complaining that the A listers slammed the door shut behind them, stop. just stop it. haul your butt over to your computer and start exploring the vast territory of liberal blogs with fewer than three thousand visitors a day and LINK to them on your OWN blog and encourage others to do the same instead of wondering why atrios and markos aren't doing all of this work for the good of the liberal blogosphere.

not that y'all who read here don't do this already. but the rest of you., aren't reading this. but, you should be. so there.

Delurk for the sake of delurking here.

i know you're out there.

yet further adventures in gobsmacking narcissistic meltdowns

Bill O'Reilly--I know, I know! I'm as shocked as you!--so, yeah, what is it THIS time, well:

O'Reilly ordered [his co-host] Wiehl's mike cut after mishearing her on U.S. attorney issue

On the March 21 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly attacked co-host Lis Wiehl for asserting that the Bush administration had offered to allow White House staffers to appear before the congressional committees investigating the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys only if no transcript of the interviews is produced.

...Revisiting a common tactic, O'Reilly instructed his staff to turn off Wiehl's microphone: "Cut her mike. Cut her mike. She's not allowed to speak for three minutes." He went on to ask: "What can we do to her? What can we do to her?"

...From the March 21 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

... They're not gonna allow subpoenas to float into the Oval Office on a question of politics, especially since he's making them available to testify in front of Congress. And if they lie, they go to jail. All right?

WIEHL: That's right. But there's no transcript of it. There's no way that we're -- the people are gonna find out about it.

O'REILLY: No, wait a minute. Hold it. That's another lie.


O'REILLY: You see. I don't like you today.

WIEHL: Why not?

O'REILLY: Because you are not -- you did not do your homework.

WIEHL: Yes, I did!

O'REILLY: No, you didn't. You did not do your homework. There is a record of every word that is said.

WIEHL: Such interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, a transcript --

O'REILLY: Oh, open transcripts.

WIEHL: -- subsequent testimony, or the subsequent issuance of --

O'REILLY: Stop. Stop. Stop talking.

WIEHL: So how would we ever find out about what happened?

O'REILLY: Stop talking. It's not about you, and you're misleading the audience. Stop talking.

...WIEHL: But you just started with saying this doesn't have an effect on we, the people. It does have an effect on we, the people --

O'REILLY: No, it doesn't.

WIEHL: Yes, it does.

O'REILLY: It has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with your life.

WIEHL: Your local law-enforcement officer, the head local law enforcement in your state has everything to do with your life.

O'REILLY: No, it doesn't. And now you made a terrible mistake, and you're smarter than that, and you misled my audience, and I'm furious. I am furious at you.

...O'REILLY: No. All right. You see? I'll scold my own people here 'cause they're not -- she's not telling you the truth. There is a transcript. Every word Karl Rove and anybody else said would be on paper. If they lied, Leahy could take that and have them charged with lying to Congress, and you get five years for every lie. Wiehl and all the other propagandists tell you there is no transcript. And then when you call them on it, she sneaks in the word "open transcript." Open, which means The New York Times gets it. OK. That's what Bush doesn't want.

Because The New York Times gets the transcript and, as we demonstrated yesterday, cherry-picks and twists things around, OK, to make points that aren't true, like the immigration thing in New Bedford. Babies weaned from mothers' breasts because the feds -- you know, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

But the bottom line is, and I'm gonna take a break and then let Wiehl talk again, but I'm furious at you.

Anyone want to take bets on how long before he strokes out? Seriously, i mean, DAMN. His own co-host is a propagandist! That's gotta be rough.

"I don't like you today!"

The grownups are back in charge, oh FUCKING FUCK YES.

Yes, it happens here too

Quoth the ravenmn:

On a thread a while back a woman spoke about never seeing poverty in the U.S. as bad as what she saw in Mexico. I and lots of other people spoke about how poverty is hidden in the U.S. by zoning laws, police and the prison system.

Here's a story from the LA Times about a particular hidden community:

from the article:

Jose and his family live in a world few ever see, a vast poverty born in hundreds of trailer parks strung like a shabby necklace across the eastern Coachella Valley.

Out here — just a few miles from world-class golf resorts, private hunting clubs and polo fields — half-naked children toddle barefoot through mud and filth while packs of feral dogs prowl piles of garbage nearby.

Thick smoke from mountains of burning trash drifts through broken windows. People — sometimes 30 or more — are crammed into trailers with no heat, no air-conditioning, undrinkable water, flickering power and plumbing that breaks down for weeks or months at a time.

"I was speechless," said Haider Quintero, a Colombian training for the priesthood who recently visited the parks as part of his studies. "I never expected to see this in America."

...Some of the largest and poorest parks are on the Torres Martinez Indian Reservation where they are not subject to local zoning laws and the county can't monitor safety, hygiene and building standards. The reservation is also home to the worst illegal dumps of any tribe in California, Arizona or Nevada, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The federal agency has closed 10 of the 20 most toxic dumps and cited four of the largest trailer parks for health violations...

more at the LAT or at Fly By Night

i particularly love the one slumlord/park owner going,

"Before the parks, they were living in their cars, in the desert and bathing in the canals. Five guys would pay 50 bucks a month to share a camper shell," said Scott Lawson, a tribal member and co-owner of the Oasis park on the reservation. "Nobody cared when they lived like that, only when they moved into trailers. You can't expect the poorest to live like the wealthiest. They feel comfortable here; it's like being back in Mexico. They tell me that."

i'll give you lhude sing cuccu, motherfucker

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Growe� sed and blowe� med
and spring...

goddam fucking pollen.

Good idea. Timely, too.

Via Blue Gal: an upcoming blogswarm, Blog Against Theocracy.

There are no real guidelines to this. The idea is to post at least once from Friday to Sunday Easter Weekend, April 6-8.

The post will be against theocracy, in favor of our Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state. But there are a LOT of issues tied to this, as is pointed out in the First Freedom First website:

No religious discrimination.
PRO End-of-Life Care (no more Terri Schiavo travesties)
Reproductive health decisions made by individuals, not religious "majorities"
Democracy not Theocracy
Academic Integrity (like, a rock is as old as it is, not as old as the Bible says)
Sound Science (good bye so-called "intelligent" design)
Respect for ALL families (based on love, not sexual orientation. Hellooooo.)
And finally,
The right to worship, OR NOT.

So take your pick and write your post(s). Really, the wider variety of topics makes it all the more interesting.

When you've posted, email the url of your post to bluegalsblog AT gmail DOT com. I'll be posting links as quickly as I can that weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

i don't know, i think she's being kind of partisan here

but in an objective kind of way, it is true. it is an interesting video, but bor-ing, unless you do something with it.

my eyes are watering--look! shiny! i see everything twice! now there are two Ann Althouses. they are both very interesting, maybe one not quite so much as the other. heh. interesting things with bodily fluids.

no, i am not at all intoxicated, why do you ask?

"i like to sing-a, about the moon-a and the June-a and the spring-a"

h/t Donna and Progressive Gold

well now that'd be a shocker

From The Impolitic: Did Gonzales cover up teen sex scandal in Texas?

Jebus. When Gonzales recently announced that he was going to fight to keep his job for the children, who knew he meant for the children. It appears Mr. "War on Porn" Gonzales, who vigorously pursues adult pornography, had
no interest in prosecuting pedophilies in Texas.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, both already under siege for other matters, are now being accused of failing to prosecute officers of the Texas Youth Commission after a Texas Ranger investigation documented that guards and administrators were sexually abusing the institution's teenage boy inmates.

Among the charges in the Texas Ranger report were that administrators would rouse boys from their sleep for the purpose of conducting all-night sex parties.

The official reason given by the assistant US Attorney in Texas for the failure to prosecute was that none of the children complained of pain while enduring systematic sexual abuse perpetrated upon them by their keepers at juvenile detention facilities. In the old days we would have called them reform schools. He goes on to suggest that the children may well have been willing participants in the abuse because none of the of the victims could describe acts of retaliation for failing to engage in the orgies.


So what does this have to do with Gonzales? The federal Texas office had actually prepared indictments but never served them and rejected the case only after they heard from DC. Coincidentally, the scandal arose in the middle of the Republican governor's re-election campaign. They dumped the case on the local DA instead, as if they were going to pursue it during the campaign. Meanwhile the feds actively pursued minor voter fraud issues, leaving these young boys subject to further abuse. It was only after Perry won his election that the case was finally pursued and gratefully resulted in some badly needed reforms within the system...

So, let's review what we've learned so far:

1) you can TOTALLY trust the government, especially an authoritarian right-wing government, to have good motivations and thus do the right thing when they go after pr0n or drugs or anything sexual, in the name of "protection" or "the children" or whatnot

2) "reform school" is a great place for kids to learn how to be a better citizen, you know, get the firm yet loving discipline they never got from their parents, and only those who deserve it ever go there, especially in Texas

3) Freedom isn't free.
In fact, a lot of you may never be able to afford it at all. This is the price we pay for democracy. Which is TOTALLY what we have here. Democracy.

Questions? Comments?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Continuing updates on the Shaquanda Cotton case

Chittlin's and Chopsticks seems to be doing the most extensive coverage; lots of links over the last x days. A couple of highlights:

"Shaquanda may be released soon!"

[from the Chicago Tribune]

The sentences of many of the 4,700 delinquent youths now being held in Texas' juvenile prisons might have been arbitrarily and unfairly extended by prison authorities and thousands could be freed in a matter of weeks as part of a sweeping overhaul of the scandal-plagued juvenile system, state officials say. Jay Kimbrough, a special master appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to investigate the system after allegations surfaced that some prison officials were coercing imprisoned youths for sex, said he would assemble a committee to review the sentence of every youth in the system.

The goal, Kimbrough said, is to release any youth whose sentence was improperly extended without justification or in retaliation for filing complaints. In his initial review of sentences, Kimbrough said, he had found many questionable extensions, adding that some experts estimate that more 60 percent of the state's youthful inmates might be languishing under wrongful detention.
Among the leading candidates for early release is Shaquanda Cotton, a 14-year-old black girl from the small east Texas town of Paris, who was sent to prison for up to 7 years for shoving a hall monitor at her high school while other young white offenders convicted of more serious crimes received probation in the town's courts....

On a grimmer note, however:

Shaquanda's father dies

I spoke to Paris, Texas, civil rights activist, Mrs. Brenda Cherry tonight, and she informed me Shaquanda’s father died approximately a week ago in Oklahoma.
The funeral was this past Saturday.

Mrs. Creola Cotton did not tell Shaquanda of her father’s death until today. She delayed breaking the news to her until she could do it in person, rather than by phone.
According to Mrs. Cherry, Shaquanda took her father’s death quite hard.

Shaquanda has received a blizzard of cards and her family sends their thanks.

God love her. Yep: there're those family values in action all right. stick the kid to languish away from her parents, and her father DIES and she misses the funeral, without having seen him or even known it was happening. I'm sure that'll learn her...whatever it was she was supposed to be learning. for FUCK'S sake.

Quote of the day, 3/28/07

As it happens, I'm an old-fashioned conservative who believes in privacy rights—which is why I'm pro-choice, support same sex marriage, believe drugs should be legalized, and endorse right to die policies...and that makes me a modern progressive. I'm an old-fashioned conservative who believes that everyone can help themselves, given equal opportunities—which is why I support well-funded schools, equal educational opportunities everywhere in America, a strong social safety net, workers' rights, reforming all-or-nothing welfare, jobs programs, and affirmative action until we don't need it anymore...and that makes me a modern progressive. I'm an old-fashioned conservative who believes in family values—which is another reason I'm pro-choice (or, pro-family planning, along with comprehensive sex education) and another reason I support same-sex marriage, along with same-sex parenting, adoption, and fostering, and I support family-first legislation for working parents and elder-care providers, including extended leave for births and deaths and illness, and I relatedly support universal healthcare...and that makes me a modern progressive. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It's obvious why the conservative blogosphere doesn't welcome me as a modern conservative.

--Shakespeare's Sister

God bless the child

(note: there are two other posts on similar themes, "God bless the child" parts two and three)

There is an interesting discussion unfolding in the comments of this post about Shaquanda Cotton, at the Anti-Essentialist Conundrum. Cliff notes: this is a fourteen year old girl, black, with no prior record, who was sentenced to seven years in jail for shoving a hall monitor. And had already served an entire year before her case got any attention outside her hometown.

Others, including Sylvia, have been covering the deep-ingrained societal racism that this case illuminates so starkly. For the moment, I'd like to talk about something separate, if no doubt related: authoritarianism. Which I've talked about before; and which, like so much else, begins--but doesn't end--at home.

So, back at Sylvia's, a commenter has this to say:

Ya’ll stop and think about what you are reading. Shaquanda was/is a troubled child b/c of her mother. The law (Judge, DA, etc)is trying to keep them separated b/c they see its the mother’s influence thats leading her astray. Most of us (black folk) have seen these type situations either in our family or somehow close to us.

7 years is way too long for this assult conviction. But as it reads its UP TO 7 years so she can get out as soon as she learns to behave. The problem is TYC is probably just going to make her harder than she alredy was and when she gets out at 21, she’ll be a true threat to society.

As it stands, who wants a child in their children’s school who feels she can do this to a teacher. If she’ll push a 58 year old teacher today, she’ll stab another student tomorrow or follow thru on her threat to “burn the school down”. This behavior has to be put in check. Where is her dad in all this? Why isn’t he standing up for them? He probably knows what her mother is all about and trying to stay clear.

and, later:

We’re screaming that this is a racist judge making a racist decision b/c he gave two white kids probation and Shaquanda got 7 years. Did you not read that her mother fought the probation that was offered “would not cooperate” she was on K104 (Dallas Ft.Worth urban radio) saying just that. She says Shaquanda didn’t do anything. Kids pushing kids is one thing, but when they are bold enough to push elderly teachers to the floor, that’s different and it doesn’t happen everyday. This type of behavior has been progressing from her for years, you have to wonder where it would go if left unchecked. In our parents/grandparents day they would have handled this on the spot and it never would have made the news or the court b/c they knew how take care of business and the kids then knew it. Now we got people like you talking about rights of children. Look at where it’s getting most of them.

Bint's response(s) to this is a thing of beauty and worth reading in full; I'm just going to include part here:

Yes, I have read about how her mother would not go along with the probation that was offered. Is there any reason why she should have? If Ms. Brownfield did what she says she did and raised her arm to this child, then Shaquanda had every reason to believe that she was about to get hit and therefore she acted as any normal person might do when they feel that they about to be assaulted.

And when did Ms. Brownsfield become elderly? This woman is 58 years old. My step-father is older than that and he can still climb trees and chop off branches. If she’s really elderly, then why in the world would the school put her in charge of keeping children out of the school in the morning? This isn’t about boldness on the part of Shaquanda. The girl didn’t just walk to some random little old lady and push her down to the ground. This was a case where an adult raised her hand to someone else’s child and then acted surprised when the girl reacted to that.

Furthermore, her behavior was not going unchecked. The child was taking medication for ADHD. Guess who had to bring her to a doctor and get her tested and pay for her prescriptions and keep the school supplied with her medication? Here’s a hint: IT WAS HER MOTHER. You know, that woman that you claim just isn’t willing to believe that Shaquanda has any problems. Tell me, in your mind, through whatever process you are using to evaluate all of this, why you think that her mother was doing all of this if she just didn’t give a damn about the girl’s behavior?

Yeah, I used the word rights. If this teacher had the right to raise her hand towards someone’s child, then the child also had a right to try and prevent being hit. And I don’t know about YOUR children but the ones in my life are doing just great. It isn’t talking about rights that leads to problems for children. The problem (or at least a very significant part of it) is people like you with your uncritical acceptance of every illogical epithet and pathetic cliche that society puts out about kids, especially children of color.

So, but putting the details of that particular case aside, I want to get back to this bit:

In our parents/grandparents day they would have handled this on the spot and it never would have made the news or the court b/c they knew how take care of business and the kids then knew it. Now we got people like you talking about rights of children. Look at where it’s getting most of them.

Here he is alluding to the influence (on contemporary theories of parenting, the self-help industry, and the body politic) of such people as Alice Miller. Here is an example of her thinking:

Children who are given love, respect, understanding, kindness, and warmth will naturally develop different characteristics from those who experience neglect, contempt, violence or abuse, and never have anyone they can turn to for kindness and affection. Such absence of trust and love is a common denominator in the formative years of all the dictators I have studied. The result is that these children will tend to glorify the violence inflicted upon them and later to take advantage of every possible opportunity to exercise such violence, possibly on a gigantic scale. Children learn by imitation. Their bodies do not learn what we try to instill in them by words but what they have experienced physically. Battered, injured children will learn to batter and injure others; sheltered, respected children will learn to respect and protect those weaker than themselves. Children have nothing else to go on but their own experiences.

Born innocent

The well-known American pediatrician Dr. Brazelton once filmed a group of mothers holding and feeding their babies, each in her own particular way. More than 20 years later he repeated the experiment with the women those babies had grown into and who now had babies themselves. Astoundingly, they all held their babies in exactly the same way as they had been held by their mothers, although of course they had no conscious memories from those early years. One of the things Braselton proved with this experiment was that we are influenced in our behavior by our unconscious memories. And those memories can be life affirming and affectionate or traumatic and destructive.

In the 1970s the French gynecologist Fr�d�ric Leboyer demonstrated that babies delivered without physical force and given a loving reception by their immediate environment show no signs of desperate crying or any kind of destructiveness. In fact they will even smile only a few minutes after birth. As long as they are not separated after birth, as was the custom in the 1950s, mother and child will develop a relationship of trust that will have positive repercussions on the entire further course of the children's lives. In the physical presence of her baby, the mother will produce the so-called love hormone (oxytocin) enabling her intuitively to understand the signals emitted by the child and to care for its needs by a process of empathy. These phenomena are described by Michel Odent in his latest book ("The Scientification of Love", London, Free Association, 1999).

Why have these important, groundbreaking insights on human nature failed to penetrate into the awareness of the public at large? True, the works of Leboyer have changed the face of birthing practices. But the philosophical, sociological, psychological, and ultimately theological implications of his discovery of the innocent newborn do not appear to have left any mark on society as a whole. We can see this in many areas: in schools, the penal system, and politics. All these areas are dominated by the notion that punishment - and notably the corporal punishment that goes by the name of "correction" - is effective and harmless. There is little awareness of the fact that physical punishment actually creates the evil that we later try - more or less ineffectually - to banish by inflicting more of the same...

As you can see, this represents a rather different worldview from that expressed by, for example, Ray "Cold" Comfort, partner of child-star-turned-fundamentalist-preacher Kirk Cameron and co-author of a website where he produces such gems as:

What a Lovely Child

...It is a tragedy when ugly doings are seen as cute. One of the first horrible things to reveal itself in a child is the back-arch. This often happens when the parent uses the word "No" and stops the child from touching something he wanted to touch. Mom or dad then picks up the precious bundle, and instead of finding cuddly cuteness, they find the back-arch of protest.

This is the first sign of infantile rebellion against parental authority, and if it isn't dealt with, this seed will grow into a monster and destroy everything in its path.

...Understandably, no parent likes to think that their beloved child is evil, just as parents of newborns would reject any thought that their baby is ugly. However, when a youth stretches his wings, and gets away from the prodigal father's eye, sin is given full reign. You just have to listen to the average teenager talk to see that the testimony of God is true when it says "their throat is an open sepulcher," and that "their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." Perhaps you could never see the little child in your arms as "having feet that are swift to shed innocent blood," but the potential to do so is there. Godless kids love violent movies and sadistic video games. They don't see the blood-thirsty murder of another human being as being something that is horrific. Rather, it is something to be enjoyed. It gives an adrenalin rush. This is why you must introduce the "monster-slayer." You must get rid of the fiend at an early age.

Don't look to a supposed goodness in the heart of your child for a restraint against evil. Man's goodness is a cracked dam. The weight of sin cannot be restrained. It is common for the mother of a vicious murderer to say that her teenage son was actually a good boy. Such loyalty comes from godless reasoning. It comes from the thought that there is good in everyone. That seems to hold true until you define the word "good." It means to be morally excellent. It means to be perfect in thought, word and in deed. It means to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. In that case, Jesus was right. There is none good but God. So, reject the world's philosophy, and instead embrace the biblical viewpoint. Again, God's Word says that there is none good. Not one. Your child isn't good. He is like the rest of us. His heart is evil. Face the ugliness.

Don't wait until you have a Jeffery Dahmer on your hands before you use the word "evil." That monster murdered and cannibalized seventeen people, but his background is no different than that of most children. He himself said, "When I was just a little kid I was just like anybody else."* However, when, as a child he began showing cruelty to animals (something common in human nature), the monster wasn't restrained. So it is up to you to understand that the first back-arch isn't cute. It's ugly. It is the beginning of rebellion. You must deal with it by cultivating the restraint of the fear of the Lord in his life...

If you want to see this philosophy of parenthood made concrete and contemporary (you'll find plenty if you go back to "our parents/grandparents' day" without even trying), by the way, you can take a gander at the Babywise/Ezzo discipline:

After babies reach only 6 months of age, parents are instructed to begin punitive disciplinary measures such as "squeezing or swatting" of the child's hands or "isolation" in the crib for "rebellious" infractions including "foolishness," "malicious defiance" or even playing with food on the highchair tray. Ezzo explains to parents that the use of "pain" and "discomfort" can be essential disciplinary tools. After age 2 and a half, children who have a toileting accident are required to clean themselves up.

Despite the plethora of respected research demonstrating the critical importance of early parent-child attachment, "Babywise" breezily dismisses this concept as little more than self-indulgent psychobabble. Thus, parents are told that they can actually harm a child by too much rocking or holding and that they should, at all costs, avoid "emotionalism" in responding to a baby's cries lest parents be held "in bondage" to the child.

"Of course you can harm a baby by picking him or her up too much," asserts Ezzo.

...Scott notes that, depending on a child's individual temperament, Ezzo's recommendations appear to either work brilliantly -- meaning that the child essentially gives up and stops protesting completely -- or leave parents incredibly frustrated as to why, no matter how many times they "swat" the baby, she still won't use good "highchair manners."

Author and lactation consultant Huggins agrees, observing that parents who read "Babywise" may believe that they are experiencing success with the program when in fact, the opposite is true. "What Ezzo is saying 'works' in that many babies do eventually stop crying as they become resigned to taking only small amounts of milk. In that way, you could say it works," says Huggins.

In interview after interview with families who are using "Babywise," parents spoke of their sincere desire to produce "obedient," "respectful" children. Rarely did these parents mention a hope to produce emotionally healthy adults. Overwhelmingly, "Babywise" parents accepted without question the conventional wisdom that "kids today" are out of control. Faced with the onslaught of media images of rampaging middle-schoolers and wilding teens, these parents believe that by cracking down on what Ezzo defines as infant rebellion now, they will prevent problems later.

"I have no intention of raising an out-of-control child, " says Franklin Stout, a 32-year-old father of two who is implementing "Babywise" methods with his young children. "My wife and I like having a guide to help us know how to respond to our sons' different behaviors. We believe that firm discipline in the first year or two will save us all a lot of grief later."

..."Telling parents that there is one simple way to get kids to behave is, well, let's just put it like this: This type of parenting is part of this whole swing to the right all over the country," says pediatrician and Harvard professor T. Berry Brazelton, known to millions of American parents and grandparents as the author of "Touchpoints" (Addison-Wesley) and numerous other bestselling books on parenting and child development. "I feel bad for young parents who are being told that if they follow this program or that program, they won't have problems. You have to look below the surface to see what's going on with each individual family."

After reviewing "Babywise," noted social historian Stephanie Coontz, author of "The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap" and "The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families" (Basic Books), says that she is able to understand how some parents are drawn to Ezzo's advice. "The way this book has been hyped speaks to real dilemmas faced by parents today," says Coontz. "Unfortunately, this book may give the wrong answers. The book provides solutions to real problems that are at least as bad as the real problems themselves."

..."Parenting like this shows very little respect for children," says pediatrician Brazelton. "It's very adultamorphic and not sensitive to the baby. Although parents should gently set limits, punitive discipline for very young children and babies is repressive and can quash exploration and excitement in the first two years of life. It will be interesting to see some follow up on these kids in later years. I suspect that they'll have a lot of inner rebellion."

Don and Jeanne Elium, family therapists and authors of the books "Raising a Son," "Raising a Daughter" and the new "Raising a Family: Living on Planet Parenthood" (Celestial Arts), concur with Brazelton that the discipline practices promoted by Ezzo are neither age-appropriate nor effective in the long run.

"All isolating a baby or young toddler teaches them is that the world is not a safe place to be in," says Don Elium. "Let a baby be a baby so that she can be an adult when it's time to be an adult."

"Leaving a baby alone to cry in order to punish or to train them to sleep can create a sense of rage that comes from abandonment and hopelessness," agrees Jeanne Elium. "These children will probably pay an expensive price in therapy later..."

And here we come to the crux of it: how completely backasswards the whole thing is. Essentially, the child is being asked to have more control over hirself than the adult. And to accept abuse that would be considered an outrage were an adult to do it to another adult (well, all other things being equal, which of course they often aren't; nonetheless). Which pretty much goes against everything we understand about human development, those of us who've come out of the Dark Ages, at least.

And then the child grows up; and guess what happens to all that pent-up rage, frustration, terror, grief, unmet needs? Well, oftentimes sie simply turns it in on hirself. Depression, rage, various ways dramatic and subtle of putting oneself down and out--because, the adult kid is a decent person, doesn't want to do unto others what was done unto hir, is horrified by the prospect of becoming like the abuser...and at the same time, too, the implications of accepting exactly how things really went down are primally scary. back to Alice Miller again:

These letters are almost always written from the perspective of the parents, parents who were totally unable to bear, let alone love, their children. The children's perspective finds no expression whatsoever, except in the sufferings of the adults they have become, the physical symptoms, the bouts of depression, the thoughts of suicide, the crippling feelings of guilt. The writers of these letters constantly insist that they were never abused as children, that the only physical "correction" they received was occasional slap of no consequence at all, or a kick or two they had richly deserved because they sometimes behaved abominably and got on their parents' nerves. I am frequently assured that deep down these people were loved by their fathers and mothers, and if they were cruelly treated from time to time it was because things just got too much for their parents, who were unhappy, depressed, uninformed, or possibly even alcoholics, and all because they themselves had been deprived of love when they were young. So it is hardly surprising that these parents were quick to lose their tempers and take their unhappiness and resentment out on their children. Such behavior is readily understandable. The dearest wish of these children was to help their parents, because they loved them and felt sorry for them. But however hard they tried, they never managed to free them from their depression and make them happy.

The tormenting feelings of guilt triggered by this failure are unrelenting and implacable. What have I done wrong? These people ask themselves. Why have I failed to free my parents from their misery? I try the best I can. And it's the same with my therapists. They tell me to enjoy the good things in life, but I can't, and that makes me feel guilty too. They tell me to grow up, to stop seeing myself as a victim; my childhood is a thing of the past, I should turn over a new leaf and stop agonizing. They tell me not to put the blame on others; otherwise my hatred will kill me. I should forgive and forget, and live in the present; otherwise I'll turn into a "borderline patient," whatever that is. But how can I do that? Of course I don't want to put the blame on my parents, I love them, and I owe my life to them...

...How can people love themselves if the message that they were not worth loving was drummed into them at an early stage? If they were beaten black and blue to make them into a different person? If they had it impressed on them that they were a nuisance to their parents, and that nothing in the world would ever change their parents' dislike and anger? They will believe that they are the cause of this hatred, though that is simply not true. They feel guilty, they try to become a better person, but this can never succeed because the parents take out on their own children the rage they had to suppress and hold back in their dealings with their own parents. The child was merely the butt of this rage.

Once we have realized this, we stop waiting for the love of our parents, and we know why it will never materialize. Only then can we allow ourselves to see how we were treated as children and to feel how we suffered as a result. Instead of understanding and commiserating with our parents, instead of blaming ourselves, we start taking sides with the abused child we once were...

But other times? When sie has what's called in psych parlance an "external locus of control?" That's wight, wabbit. Sie turns around and inflicts the abuse--yep, that word--on hir own kids, and calls it "discipline" or "the way things ought to be."

Or--sie might or might not have kids. And instead/in addition sie becomes, o I don't know, a police officer, or a teacher. Or a preacher. Or a politician. Or a talking head. Or a filmmaker. Or a judge.

The personal, indeed, is political.

And so we come back full circle to Shaquanda Cotton. And yes, institutionalized racism is very much an enormous part of this. Separate from what family-level, intimate abuse and even what Miller calls "poisonous pedagogy," perhaps...and yet, not unrelated.

Because the authoritarianism, and particularly right-wing authoritarianism is the common denominator:

The current study investigated the relations among fundamentalism, authoritarianism, homosexual bias, and racist attitudes. Thirty men and 90 women from a small midwestern university participated. Results indicated a positive correlation among the 4 bias variables: fundamentalism, authoritarianism, homosexual discrimination, and racism. Fundamentalism was positively correlated with authoritarianism, which in turn was positively correlated with racism and homosexual prejudice. ANOVAs of sex and religious denomination (conservative and moderate) found sex nonsignificant with regard to the 4 bias variables. Significant differences of denominational category were found for authoritarianism and homosexual prejudice within the conservative denominational category. Religious self-ratings and church attendance were positively correlated with all bias variables except racism. Results support the previous research of the fundamentalism-authoritarianism-racism relationship. Authoritarian tendency and selectivity bias are discussed as possible explanations for these results.


Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is a psychological personality variable or "ideological attitude".

It is defined as the convergence of three attitudinal clusters in an individual:

1. Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives. "It is good to have a strong authoritarian leader."
2. Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities. "It is acceptable to be cruel to those who do not follow the rules."
3. Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities. "Traditional ways are best."

and thus is it that one can see the convergence of all these factors in sentiments such as the one expressed by yet another commenter back at the Anti-Essentialist Conundrum thread:

unknown Mar 26th, 2007 at 5:53 pm

To Shaquanda Cotton,

I am so glad to see you get the support and attention that you need. Too bad you did not have that the first 14 years of your life. Maybe some of these people will come to Paris and try to do the same for the rest of your family. Maybe they can provide a place for people like you and your siblings so you can get the help you all deserve. Let them pray that they can find positive activities, besides getting high on the front porch or feeling that you need to be with any guy that shows you the lest bit of attention. I really hope you can bring yourself to ask God to help you in times of you and your family needs, and please don’t forget to ask him for the wisdom you need to get through this. I too will have this entire town in my prayers.

As commenter Taceo notes in response,

It is that mindset that gets situations like the one at hand. know, i really don't think it's THAT complicated

today's search string:

"how to take a shit"


oh, you know what, never mind.

oh, yeah, and: about that whole, "right-wingers are nicer than left-wingers" business

you know, because they're nicer to Althouse, and l'Etat, c'est Qu'Emu, anyway Orcinus has a few notes on that as well:

Glenn Reynolds [referencing Muslim mothers reluctant to obtain certain immunizations]: "Just think of it as evolution in action."

...Bill O'Reilly:

Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.

...[Frequent MSNBC guest] Melanie Morgan: "I would have no problem with [New York Times editor Bill Keller] being sent to the gas chamber."


"We've got a bull's-eye painted on [Pelosi's] big, wide laughing eyes"

...Rep. Peter King:

And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove.

..."The Political Insight":

Let's start with the following New York Times reporters and editors: Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. , Bill Keller, Eric Lichtblau, and James Risen. Do you have an idea where they live?

Go hunt them down and do America a favor. Get their photo, street address, where their kids go to school, anything you can dig up, and send it to the link above. This is your chance to be famous -- grab for the golden ring...

oh, per that last one: yeah, there is such a thing as online terrorism. Altmouse, please take note: people making fun of you for being an ass--a creepy, stalkeriffic ass who analyzes another blogger's breasts and then blames her for havin' em, pretty much, no less-- is NOT in the same category as being in receipt of actual stalking and death threats.

back to Orcinus: actually there's an entire ten-part series on "eliminationism," starting here; worth reading. As is this earlier series by Neiwert. This bit, f'r instance:

See if this has a familiar ring to it: A rabid right-wing radio talk-show host has been stirring up a campaign of hatred aimed at local liberals. In this case, though, the threats have gone beyond simply empty words into concrete action involving threats and intimidation.

The talk-show host in question is a fellow named John Stokes, who operates little KGEZ-AM, a radio station south of town next to Highway 93 (in fact, there are reasons to believe he bought the station mainly as a way to scam the state out of millions in condemnation proceedings, but that's another story). Shortly after Stokes took over in 2000, he began broadcasting right-wing screeds that indeed made Rush Limbaugh sound like "the voice of reason" in contrast. Stokes regularly launched vitriolic attacks on all kinds of liberals; gays and lesbians came in for special scorn (he accused two lesbian activists in Missoula whose home had burned down in an arson of setting the fire themselves), and of course Bill Clinton was a frequent target.

The primary targets of Stokes' venom, though, were conservationists and environmentalists, for whom not even the most appalling comparison nor the most groundless accusation was adequate: Stokes constantly referred to them as Nazis, and the central thrust of all his attacks was that "greens" were responsible for nearly everything that was wrong with life in Western Montana, particularly the depressed economy. Indeed, Stokes has referred frequently to Patriot conspiracy theories, and not merely on the subject of environmentalists (who are viewed by militia types as a cult intent on enslaving the rest of mankind); he's also trotted out Patriot theories on such subjects as taxation and the Constitution.

Unsurprisingly, his audience reflects this kind of proto-fascist orientation. Many of his callers have outright advocated violence against conservationists, and Stokes has encouraged them to do so.

The real-life consequences of all this talk made quite clear that this was not merely "entertainment," and that Stokes' "hot talk" was doing more than just garnering ratings. Beginning in the summer of 2001, local conservationists began receiving a series of death threats, some delivered in person, others by phone. Car windows were smashed in, tires slashed. Strange men would show up in people's yards at twilight, then run off when confronted. People's homes were vandalized. Others would be followed home by men in pickups or on motorcycles. Sometimes the teenage children of the targets were threatened.

And egging all of these people on was John Stokes. Sometimes callers would announce on his show that a local conservationist was on vacation, which would present an opportunity to "visit their home." In others, a caller would simply give the home address of an environmental activist who had just been vilified as "Satanic" on the air by Stokes...

note: this was written in 2003, and i think the "rising tide" to which he alludes, next, has shifted somewhat. but, it's hardly irreversible, and i still think this is highly relevant:

The massive propagandizing of the right against liberals generally and antiwar elements specifically is an area where a number of disturbing trends are beginning to coalesce:

* The increasing tendency of extremist memes to appear in mainstream discourse as an acceptable version of conservative thinking, propelled especially by the now-apparent bias among most national media outlets favoring conservative propaganda.
* Bush's purposeful projection of religious motivations for his war effort, with overt suggestions that his decisions are divinely guided.
* The extremist right's growing identification with Bush, and their apparent willingness to use thuggish tactics of intimidation on his behalf.
* Likewise, the Bush regime's increasingly apparent willingness to make use of such factions for their own political ends.
* The rising demonization of antiwar liberals, complete with vicious eliminationist rhetoric.
* The constant framing of the war in jingoistic "national renewal" sentiments, both in political and religious terms.
* The dislocation caused by the flailing economy and terrorism fears, both of which raise the conditions under which people become willing to turn to totalitarianism.

These rivulets have been coalescing in a campaign directed against antiwar liberals, and creating a powerful undercurrent that hasn't yet broken through the surface. What hasn't happened yet is that the thuggishness has not directed itself on any kind of large scale at all (there have only been a few isolated incidents); neither has the Bush regime made any kind of open signal that such activities are viewed approvingly.

If they do signal such an alliance, however, then I am convinced that the nation is in serious danger of submerging under a tide of genuine fascism. And as I've been arguing all along, it won't be a fascism we can easily recognize. It won't be German-style or Italian-style; rather, it will be uniquely American -- probably, if history is any guide, one with a veneer of Christian fundamentalism, but underneath, one predicated on a coalescence of corporatist power with proto-fascist thuggery.

That said, even though the danger is clear, it's important to understand that we are not there yet. More to the point, we can stop this slide. We only need to be aware that it is occurring.

My advice would be nearly identical to that which I give those little community groups like the one in Kalispell: Stand up for democracy. Don't threaten and don't cajole. And don't back down.

Most people -- conservatives especially, who view analyses like mine as merely an attempt to smear Republicans -- are in denial about these trends. Even in Kalispell, there was resistance from many in the business community that even addressing the problem just gave the extremists free publicity -- ignoring, of course, the reality that trying to pretend them away just gives them a free ride.

...From my experience and that of nearly every community that has had to deal with right-wing extremism, the notion that paying attention to it -- covering both the leaders and the followers in the press, responding to them publicly -- only publicizes their kookery is a gross mistake. Remaining silent and refusing to stand up to them is not an adequate response. They mistake the silence for complicity, for tacit approval.

This is equally true of the shape-shifting "transmitters" who take extremist memes and inject them into the national discourse, often under the guise of providing "fiery" rhetoric. When the public starts calling them on the sources of their ideas, and exposing them for the coddlers of hate-mongers, extremists and terrorists that they are, then they inevitably scurry back and hide under the rocks whence they crawled out. This is already starting to happen with Michael Savage; it needs to begin happening with Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and the rest.

Like all bullies, they prove cowards in a real fight. It's time for the rest of America to start fighting.

p.s. Altmouse may be a lightweight in the greater scheme of things, but she damn well is a bully by my lights.

and, of course she/they start whining about how persecuted THEY are, as soon as anyone so much as looks at 'em crosseyed, as per that last hilarious demonstration (for example), because that is ALSO what bullies do:

When called to account for the way they have chosen to behave, the bully instinctively exhibits this recognisable behavioural response:

a) Denial: the bully denies everything. Variations include Trivialization ("This is so trivial it's not worth talking about...") and the Fresh Start tactic ("I don't know why you're so intent on dwelling on the past" and "Look, what's past is past, I'll overlook your behaviour and we'll start afresh") - this is an abdication of responsibility by the bully and an attempt to divert and distract attention by using false conciliation. Imagine if this line of defence were available to all criminals ("Look I know I've just murdered 12 people but that's all in the past, we can't change the past, let's put it behind us, concentrate on the future so we can all get on with our lives" - this would do wonders for prison overcrowding).

b) Retaliation: the bully counterattacks. The bully quickly and seamlessly follows the denial with an aggressive counter-attack of counter-criticism or counter-allegation, often based on distortion or fabrication. Lying, deception, duplicity, hypocrisy and blame are the hallmarks of this stage. The purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour. Often the target is tempted - or coerced - into giving another long explanation to prove the bully's allegation false; by the time the explanation is complete, everybody has forgotten the original question.

Both a) and b) are delivered with aggression in the guise of assertiveness; in fact there is no assertiveness (which is about recognising and respecting the rights of oneself and others) at all. Note that explanation - of the original question - is conspicuous by its absence.

c) Feigning victimhood: in the unlikely event of denial and counter-attack being insufficient, the bully feigns victimhood or feigns persecution by manipulating people through their emotions, especially guilt. This commonly takes the form of bursting into tears, which most people cannot handle. Variations include indulgent self-pity, feigning indignation, pretending to be "devastated", claiming they're the one being bullied or harassed, claiming to be "deeply offended", melodrama, martyrdom ("If it wasn't for me...") and a poor-me drama ("You don't know how hard it is for me ... blah blah blah ..." and "I'm the one who always has to...", "You think you're having a hard time ...", "I'm the one being bullied..."). Other tactics include manipulating people's perceptions to portray themselves as the injured party and the target as the villain of the piece. Or presenting as a false victim.

...By using this response, the bully is able to avoid answering the question and thus avoid accepting responsibility for what they have said or done. It is a pattern of behaviour learnt by about the age of 3; most children learn or are taught to grow out of this, but some are not and by adulthood, this avoidance technique has been practised to perfection.

A further advantage of the denial/counter-attack/feigning victimhood strategy is that it acts as a provocation. The target, who may have taken months to reach this stage, sees their tormentor getting away with it and is provoked into an angry and emotional outburst after which the bully says simply "There, I told you s/he was like that". Anger is one of the mechanisms by which bullies (and all abusers) control their targets. By tapping in to and obtaining an inappropriate release of pent-up anger the bully plays their master stroke and casts their victim as villain.

When called to account for the way they have chosen to behave, mature adults do not respond by bursting into tears. If you're dealing with a serial bully who has just exhibited this avoidance tactic, sit passively and draw attention to the pattern of behaviour they've just exhibited, and then the purpose of the tactic. Then ask for an answer to the question.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

oh. my. god. could this woman BE any more of a fuckwit?

From Orcinus via Nine Pearls, Altmouse I mean Qu'Emu I mean oh just take a guess, ANYWAY, viddy:

Why are you all so NASTY to her, y'all? DAMN. She DOESN'T LIKE IT. and there's NO CAUSE. none whatsoever! She's not like other people! She can't stand pain, it hurts her! no, do NOT bring up Jessica Valenti! no, not even as a one-sentence tentative partial answer as to why y'all don't like her! that is SO UNFAIR, and a character assasination, to bring that up. It's not part of what we were talking about! It makes her look bad! You are undermining her point, by bringing that up out of context! And old blogwars are so BORING and BESIDE the point, all she was TRYING TO DO is ask WHY all these liberal bloggers are VICIOUS and UNFAIR and NASTY toward her, and you RUINED IT. You are all such BASTARD PEOPLE.

...seriously, you gotta watch that shit. the body language alone. hoo boy.

on edit: Lawyers, Guns and Money has more commentary. good times.

Murdered is the new black

Vox ex Machima has a roundup of some of the more disturbing stories of violence against women in the news;

and connects them to the apparent trend for fashion victims. As in: models made up to look like rape, assault, and murder victims. From that Dolce and Gabbana ad to America's Next Top Model.

You can find some of the actual photos at Zap2It, or back at Vox. Warning: stylized as they are, some of them are pretty frigging disturbing. I think, anyway; and I'm not as easily disturbed, I think, as some.

The comments via Top Model are kind of friggin' surreal. I mean, I get it: aesthetics über alles, but um. Why this? No, seriously, wtf?

Poisoned by a Model


Miss J: What's great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.

...Nigel: You look incredible in front of me here. You look beautiful in this picture. This is a full package right now. (later) I think Renee does photograph a little on the old side, but it's still a beautiful face.


Shot by a Model

Miss J: I love the broken-down leg. It's absolute genius


Decapitated by a Model

Twiggy: I think she's very beautiful. I don't like this photograph this week.

Miss J: You're so used to moving, that when you're dead, you're just that: capital D-E-A-D, dead.

Nigel: All the other girls managed to have some sort of spark even in this sort of morbid situation. I think I look at you in this picture, and you actually just look dead. One of the simplest things, like acting dead, can be the most challenging. The problem is that you didn't do anything. You just gave up and thought that that was being dead.

I also thought of this post by my pal fastlad, who made the following connection:

New Yorkers, heads up:

There is a petition to implore Governor Spitzer to not privatize SUNY hospitals. An excerpt of why it's a good idea to sign:

SUNY Upstate Medical University's hospital is in grave danger of being privatized. If it's privatized, and taken out of SUNY, it's likely that any services that don't turn a profit will be shut down - and that would include the only level one trauma center in the 14 counties surrounding Syracuse and the only burn unit serving the surrounding 27 counties. For some in Upstate New York, the distance to a level one trauma center would double.

Simply put, taking Upstate out of the SUNY system and privatizing it would cost lives in Upstate New York.

At this time, when it's becoming clear that privatization of medical services contributed to the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I think it would be a mistake to privatize public hospitals here in New York.

There are other reasons not to weaken SUNY Upstate Medical University. SUNY Upstate is a critical source of physicians for Upstate New York. It's also a serious research center with a major economic impact on the region, not only in terms of jobs, but also in terms of contributing to Upstate New York's position in the knowledge-based economy....

Quote of the day, 3/27/07

But human nature is weak. You must not ask too much of it.

--Somerset Maugham, "The Three Fat Women of Antibes"

...ah, hell, I'm gonna post the context for that, because my lunch made me think of it in the first place:

They ate grilled fish while Lena ate macaroni sizzling with cheese and butter; they ate grilled cutlets and boiled spinach while Lena ate paté de foie gras; twhice a week they ate hard-boiled eggs and raw tomatoes, while Lena ate peas swimming in cream and potatoes cooked in all sorts of delicious ways. The chef was a good chef and he leapt leapt at the opportunity afforded him to send up one dish more rich, tasty, and succulent than the other.

'Poor Jim,' sighed Lena, thinking of her husband, 'he loved French cooking.'

...Lena was going to stay with friends on the Italian Riviera and Frank saw her off by the same train as that by which she had arrived. She was taking away with her a lot of their money [won at cards].

"I don't know how to thank you," she said, as she got into the carriage. "I've had a wonderful visit."

[Frank's] reply was perfect in its combination of majesty and graciousness.

...But when she turned away frm the departing train she heaved such a vast sigh of relief that the platform shook beneath her...

...[she] stopped dead still. She could not believe her eyes. Beatrice was sitting at one of the tables, by herself...

..."Beatrice, what are you doing?" she cried...Beatrice looked at her coolly.

"Eating," she answered.

...In front of Beatrice was a plate of croissants and a plate of butter, a pot of strawberry jam, and a jug of cream. Beatrice was spreading butter thick on the delicious hot bread, covering this with jam, and then pouring the thick cream over all.

..."You'll put on pounds and pounds."

"Go to hell!"

She actually laughed in Frank's face. My God, how good those croissants smelt!

"I'm disappointed in you, Beatrice. I thought you had more character."

"It's your fault. That blasted woman. You would have her down. For a fortnight I've watched her gorge like a hog. It's more than flesh and blood can stand. I'm going to have one square meal if I burst."

The tears welled up to Frank's eyes...Speechless she sank down on a chair by Beatrice's side. A waiter came up. With a pathetic gesture she waved toward the coffee and the croissants.

"I'll have the same," she sighed.

34th Carnival of Feminists is up

at teh excellent A Somewhat Old, But Capacious Handbag.

and yours truly will be hosting, not this next one, but t'one after. stay tuned.

Plus ça change

Via Black Amazon:

Smugglers toss hundreds of refugees to sharks

Knife-wielding smugglers forced 450 Somalis and Ethiopians overboard into stormy seas along a remote stretch of Yemen coastline at Ras-Alkalb in the Gulf of Aden last Thursday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement.

The smugglers forced their passengers overboard so they could make a speedy departure after being spotted by Yemeni security forces, UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort said.

It was the latest case of smuggler brutality involving boats carrying people across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It brings the total number of dead and missing among people trying to reach Yemen so far this year to 262.

"We are horrified by this latest tragedy," said Erika Feller, the agency's assistant high commissioner for protection.

The victims are people "who are desperate to escape persecution, violence and poverty in the Horn of Africa," she said.

..."Several recovered bodies showed signs of severe mutilation," UNHCR said. "Survivors also reported that several Ethiopian women and at least one Somali were raped and abused by the smugglers during the voyage from Bosaso in Somalia's Puntland region. Survivors also alleged that some Yemeni security forces confiscated their money once they reached shore."

Since January 2006 at least 30,000 people have fled violence and hardship in Somalia and Ethiopia for Yemen, according to UNHCR. About 500 people have died and at least 300 are missing and believed dead.

Meanwhile, not very far away: a number of people had mentioned this one, actually:

Shaquanda Cotton

I am a 14-year-old black freshman who shoved a hall monitor at Paris High School in a dispute over entering the building before the school day had officially begun and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. I have no prior arrest record, and the hall monitor--a 58-year-old teacher's aide--was not seriously injured. I was tried in March 2006 in the town's juvenile court, convicted of "assault on a public servant" and sentenced by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville to prison for up to 7 years, until I turn 21. Just three months earlier, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl, convicted of arson for burning down her family's house, to probation....

Blogher amplifies:

During her imprisonment, Cotton has tried to seriously hurt herself three times. She says she is depressed and afraid of the other girls, most of whom have prior criminal records and serious felony convictions. She told Chicago Sun-Times reporter Howard Witt:

"I get paranoid when I get around some of these girls," Shaquanda said. "Sometimes I feel like I just can't do this no more--that I can't survive this."

A guard at the prison where she is being held is accused of molesting four girls. The board responsible for overseeing the Texas juvenile justice system amid charges that they covered up sex abuse scandals in several of the facilities it oversees.

Cotton's supporters say that her case reflects a long-standing pattern of racist treatment in a town whose best-known landmark is the public fairgrounds where black men were routinely lynched as white spectators cheered. The court and prosecutors reportedly denied a Chicago Tribune reporter's request for comment.

Cotton's mother said her daughter was singled out because she accused the school district of racism on several occasions. In fact, 12 discrimination complaints have been filed against the school district in recent years. School district officials dispute the charges, but the US Department of Education, which is still investigating, has reportedly asked the US Department of Justice to investigate.

Calls to action at both sites.

Temple3, The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum, Vox ex Machina, Prometheus 6, Solar Souls, the Young Black Professionals Guide and My Private Casbah all have good coverage and/or commentary on this as well.

Finally, what i was reminded of when this story broke:

yesterday was the 96th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.


Tracked back to this site via jumping off a keyword search. speaking of "desire" week...well, if you ever needed proof that there's a fetish for absolutely EVERYTHING, this site's got a fairly comprehensive list of some of the more....well...outre? Some of 'em i really truly can't endorse--there are names for decidedly illegal and unethical practices in there--but here are some of the ones that just made me kind of go, "hm?"

Arousal from the sight of teeth

Arousal from images in mirror OR spirits and ghosts

Arousal from gold or wealth

Arousal from being a fugitive

Arousal from being cold

Arousal from traveling

Arousal from giving or hearing sermons

Arousal by acts considered normal by their religion or society

Arousal from hate or fear

...actually, that last one makes a kind of sense. actually a lot of some of the others would explain a lot of seemingly inexplicable behavior. f'r instance:

Stage-managing a disaster and then observing it

I can sort of dig the "sermon" one, too, actually, come to think of it.

In fact, there are a number that do actually resonate a bit for moi. Putting aside the ones that are more familiar (i.e. some of the BDSM ones, some of the body part and clothing ones):

Arousal from having hair shampooed

Arousal from food

Arousal from water

Arousal from music

Dancing oneself to orgasm

Transformation fetish
sexual arousal from depictions of transformations of people into objects or other beings

Arousal from psychic or mental stimulation


But what the whole thing says to me is just how narrow our ideas of sexuality often are. and how pointless it is to corral only certain things into "erotic." Eros is...a channel, I'd say. There are all kinds of theories as to how certain "non-traditional" preferences get streamed into that channel for a person; most of them rather of the pathologizing model, unfortunately. It's not an area that's talked about well or smartly enough by far, imho. John Money's "lovemaps" is probably more useful than many, but...yeah, i dunno. An enigma, wrapped in bacon.

mmmm. bacon.

i have no voice, and i must scream


Monday, March 26, 2007

Female desire week, cont'd/Quote of the day, 3/26/07

It was dusky in the dining-room and quite chilly. But all the same Bertha threw off her coat; she could not bear the tight clasp of it another moment, and the cold air fell on her arms.

But in her bosom there was still that bright glowing place--that shower of little sparks coming from it. It was almost unbearable. She hardly dared to breathe for fear of fanning it higher, and yet she breathed deeply, deeply. She hardly dared to look into the cold mirror--but she did look, and it gave her back a woman, radiant, with smiling, trembling lips, with big, dark eyes and an air of listening, waiting for something...divine to happen...that she knew must happen...infallibly.

Mary brought in the fruit on a tray and with it a glass bowl, and a blue dish, very lovely, with a strange sheen on it as though it had been dipped in milk.

"Shall I turn on the light, M'm?"

"No, thank you. I can see quite well."

There were tangerines and apples stained with strawberry pink. Some yellow pears, smooth as silk, some white grapes covered with a silver bloom and a big cluster of purple ones...

When she had finished with them and had made two pyramids of these bright round shapes, she stood away from the table to get the effect--and it really was most curious. For the dark table seemed to melt into the dusky light and the glass dish and the blue bowl to float in the air. This, of course in her present mood, was so incredibly beautiful...She began to laugh...

...And then Miss Fulton, all in silver, with a silver fillet binding her pale blond hair, came in smiling, her head a little on one side.

"Am I late?"

"No, not at all," said Bertha. "Come along." And she took her arm and they moved into the dining room.

What was there in the touch of that cool arm that could fan--fan--start blazing--blazing--the fire of bliss that Bertha did not know what to do with?...

...At that moment Miss Fulton "gave the sign."

"Have you a garden?" said the cool, sleepy voice.

This was so exquisite on her part that all Bertha could do was to obey. She crossed the room, pulled the curtains apart, and opened those long windows.

"There!" she breathed.

And the two women stood side by side looking at the slender, flowering tree. Although it was so still it seemed, like the flame of a candle, to stretch up, to point, to quiver in the bright air, to grow taller and taller as they gazed--almost to touch the rim of the round, silver moon.

How long did they stand there? Both, as it were, caught in that circle of unearthly light, understanding each other perfectly, creatures of another world, and wondering what they were to do in this one with all this blissful treasure that burned in their bosoms and dropped, in silver flowers, from their hair and hands?

For ever--for a moment? And did Miss Fulton murmur: "Yes. Just that. Or did Bertha dream it?..."

--Katherine Mansfield, "Bliss"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Per "feminine," and bad moods, more or less

Catching up after being on retreat for several days. I did not read the latest femisphere thrashes, which I am now reading about second and third hand on my beloved friends' blogs. I will not read the OP, because I have taken the pledge, and also it honestly sounds really boring. Per the definition of femininity and suchlike, I will simply say this:

Spend the weekend sharing space with, among others, a gaggle of Radical Faeries. About forty men (and a few biogirls, and one probably-TG/genderqueer person who quite literally flits like hir namesake bird), most of 'em with long beards and quite hirsute, singing and drumming and ballet dancing and doing Martha Graham impersonations and wearing lipstick and codpieces and platform heels and glitter and ginormous hats shaped like limes. It gives one a certain sense of...perspective. Also, they're fucking awesome.

as were the women I was primarily on retreat with. and by the way, ritualized group gropes and getting the shit beaten out of you can in fact be astonishingly therapeutic and deeply communal. spiritual, even. just saying.

" There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy..."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hey, Hillary. Remind me why I'm supposed to go to the mat for you again

when you sound this tepid (at best) about a good chunk of your base. Via Waiting for Dorothy, Hillary

sidestepped a question about whether she thinks homosexuality is immoral Wednesday, less than two weeks after telling gay-rights activists she was "proud" to stand by their side.

Clinton was asked the question by ABC News, in the wake of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace's controversial comment that he believed homosexual acts were immoral.

"Well, I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," she said.

...Clinton's spokesman, Philippe Reins, said the New York senator "obviously" disagrees with Pace and that everyone, including the general, "has the right to be wrong, but should not inject their personal beliefs into public policy."

Then Wednesday night, the campaign released a statement from the senator herself, saying, "I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple."

"It is inappropriate to inject such personal views into this public policy matter, especially at a time in which there are young men and women in such grave circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world," Clinton said.

However, it's her initial refusal to answer the question that did not sit well with some gay and lesbian activists.

"I assume that Senator Clinton -- who has spoken out strongly against military discrimination, who stands for civil unions and respect for same-sex couples -- understands that gay Americans are not immoral, and she ought to say so clearly," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a group that advocates same-sex marriage.

Other public figures have been more forceful in taking issue with Pace's comments, making Clinton's non-answer even more problematic.

Sen. John Warner, a conservative Republican from Virginia, said, "I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral."

John Edwards, one of Clinton's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, "I don't share that view," when asked about Pace's comments.

She was warmly received by the Human Rights Champagne Campaign a coupla weeks ago; she's for domestic partnership (presumably this leaves DOMA safe) and gay adoption rights, is for repealing her husband's don't ask don't tell thingie ("oops. our bad."), and thinks it's just adorable that she shares their initials.

Meanwhile, here I am liking a conservative Republican from Virginia (at least without knowing anything else about him) better than the leading Democratic candidate for President.

Okay, Hillary. You get exactly as much enthusiasm and faith from me as you've given me and mine, how about that?

It's going to be a long two years, that's all I know.

x-posted at Big Queer Blog

10th Erase Racism Carnival is up

at Racialicious.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Female desire week, 3

Trin made me realize that actually, I, too, would really like to capture -dynamics- at least as much as still images. It's tricksy. I don't feel like posting text right now--maybe later.

But, so okay, since I've already revealed myself to be a shameless fangirl/geek, I'll bring BTVS into it. I was trying to find stills and images, but it wasn't really what I wanted.

Then I went onto Youtube looking for clips, and found a few, but mostly I found a lot of fan-made videos. A lot of 'em are, well, fan art; but some of them are actually quite...well, I like 'em, anyway.

"Jehovah! Jehovah!! Jehovah!!"--uh, "Vagina! Vagina!! Vagina!!"

This is frigging pathetic. Via Susie Bright: three high school juniors were suspended for saying the word "vagina." While reading "The Vagina Monologues."

apparently now the suspension has been suspended, but even so, um:

The initial suspensions resulted after the students knowingly went against administrators' wishes and said the word "vagina" on Friday night at an open mic session sponsored by the high school literary magazine Reflections.

School administrators had asked the students to either not read the monologue or to omit the stanza in which the word "vagina" appeared, saying the word would be inappropriate for younger members of the audience who were expected to be in attendance.

But the students went ahead and together finished the line: "I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina's country."

At a news conference earlier this week, Principal Rich Leprine said the girls had been suspended not because of the content of their reading but because they had agreed not to say the word "vagina" but then did so anyway.

Stahl, however, said no such assurance had been given to administrators.

The girls were not explicit, she said, in saying before they took the microphone that they planned to go ahead and include that stanza.

"If they had asked us, 'What are you going to do?' we would have said we were going to read the poem in its entirety," Stahl said. "We didn't want to make this into something about us rebelling against the administration, because that wasn't our motive. … We just felt they had made an incorrect choice in trying to censor out the stanza with 'vagina.' "

I dunno. Ensler herself seems to be weighing in here, and that's all nice, but--Where the fuck is Lenny Bruce when you need him?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Female desire week/eye candy, cont'd

I know it makes me a total fucking cliche, but what the hell: Lucy Lawless, goddamit:

annnnd as long as we're going all the way into SF fangirl territory: more Gabi:

more BSG:

Gina Torres, in "Firefly" mode and otherwise:

AND as long as I'm in total fucking cliche mode anyway:

More Tilly:

Michelle Rodriguez:

Mira Sorvino:

and a little ear candy to wind up with: