Yes, There is a Difference, and No, the Democrats Don’t Do it, Too


I got into a bit of a text argument last night with a friend. We were discussing the Republican convention, and I mentioned Christie’s efforts at building a lynch mob to go after Clinton, and the chants of, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” that echoed through the convention floor.

My friend pooh-poohed all this, saying that, hey, Democrats did it, too! They wanted to have Cheney, Bush, and Rice all thrown into jail!

So let’s examine this claim.

Last night, Chris Christie gave a speech that was basically a hatchet-job against Clinton, talking about all the great and evil things she’s done (followed by Ben “Grain Storage” Carson telling us that she’s an agent for Lucifer). Not only was this speech full of lies and distortions, it was also very reminiscent of your basic witch trial, with a pre-determined verdict and a mob out for blood.

This never happened at any of the Democratic conventions.

Sure, many of us wanted Cheney, Bush, and Rice on trial for war crimes, and the fact that they haven’t been remains a great source of national shame. But we have never, on that public of a stage, had anything like this. Ever. No major party has. Well, at least not in America.

There is no longer any soft way to pedal this, nor any way to deny it: the Republican party has become a fascist party. Their nominee is a fascist in every way that matters. They’ve also become a white nationalist party of the sort that ran South Africa during the apartheid era.

This is a party that has gone from high-minded ideals that I could at least understand, even if I disagreed with them, to a party that embraces-doesn’t just “not reject”, but outright embraces-a racist, sexist, anti-American, fascist agenda. There is no other rational way to look at this.

It’s very sad. I continue to believe that a decent, sane, conservative party that acknowledges science, isn’t under the sway of the religious right, and agrees that maybe, just maybe, taxes aren’t entirely evil, is essential to our country. Having the Democrats completely run the show isn’t a great idea. Loyal opposition is important.

It’s just a shame that the opposition right now is terribly disloyal to America and its ideals.

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#blacklivesmatter


So the other day, a black man selling CDs was wrestled to the ground by a pair of cops. They had him basically prone, and shot and killed him. The governor of Louisiana, where this took place, has sensibly realized that the fed need to handle the investigation, and has turned it over to the Justice Department.

Meantime, in Minnesota, which one hardly thinks of as a hotbed of racism, police pulled over an armed black man. He told them he had a gun, asked if it was ok to get his ID, and was shot as he tried to do so. He died, though not before his girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting.

Does it need to be said-wait, yes, of course it needs to be said. The police have way too much power and discretion in this country. They’re allowed to kill pretty much anyone with very few consequences. Police departments in general have an “us vs them” mentality that’s made worse by militant images and military styles of law enforcement (though to be fair, the military usually has more stringent rules of engagement).

Yes, #notallcops, but also, yes, #adisturbinglylargenumberofcops. This shit needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.

I think the best way is to go back to what I’ve said before; disarm the police. The vast majority do not need their guns. The few situations where they do can, in general, be resolved by special armed response units, similar to what other countries have. Yes, this will likely result in more cops being shot and killed. That sucks. But the safety of the public, including the safety of suspects, must take priority over the safety of the police.

Oh, and on a final note to the #alllivesmatter crowd: grow the fuck up. Black people face special circumstances in this country that make it more likely they’ll be killed by a police office than a white person would be.

Several months ago, I was watching a TV show where someone offered the following example, which I think is informative. He basically said that suppose you to go a doctor’s office with a broken leg. You tell the doctor it hurts, and that you need your leg; your leg matters. The doctor says, “Well, yes, your leg matters. All bones matter.” That’s technically accurate, but the one bone that’s having the issue is the one that needs to be addressed.

And so it is with this.

#blacklivesmatter

How Nerd Culture is Broken


This article is inspired by this post over on Topless Robot. They can explain to you in greater detail what’s being talked about here. But I wanted to kind of expand on some of the points.

If you ever want an unpleasant experience, go to trade chat in World of Warcraft. You will never see so much hate and bile spewed out anywhere else as you will there. People calling each other “fag” and “cocksucker” are the least of it. “Nigger” generally makes a few appearances, as does more subtle racist remarks, like how now that Obama’s president, we should call it the Black House. That isn’t even going into the misogynistic bullshit.

This is certainly not isolated to WoW’s trade chat. Try playing any first person shooter game online. “Fag”, “nigger”, “retard”, etc. All of intolerance’s greatest hits. They’re all there. Generally they’re being spewed out by adolescent boys, or oftentimes by grown men who simply want to act like adolescent boys.

Various gaming companies, well aware of this problem and how uncomfortable it makes gamers, have tried to take action. WoW has a nice little “ignore” button that you can use to silence anyone who’s acting like a total twat. You can report them, too. Most other online games have similar.

But that’s not enough. The trolls always find a way back. So here’s the solution I have.

If you know someone who acts like this, even if it’s “only” online, call them out on it. Don’t be a passive enabler of their bullshit. Tell them they’re acting like jerks and that they need to knock it off. Make it clear that even behind a mask of pseudo-anonymity, that sort of behavior isn’t acceptable.

It isn’t just unacceptable; it serves no useful purpose and only makes everyone, including game publishing companies want to keep their distance from you. Yes, that’s right. The game companies themselves don’t like this behavior. People who act like this are only making the game less accessible to new players, and that makes gaming companies frown, because especially with games like WoW, they depend on those new players for money.

It is vital that these behaviors change. Acting like bullies and like you’re king of your little castle is idiotic. So please, if you know anyone who does this, call them out on it. It is, after all, entirely possible that they just don’t understand how offensive they’re being. So let them know. You’ll be doing everyone a service.

Antideutschen Rassismus und Sie!


First, check this ad. Or, if you’re in Bavaria, Czech this ad.

So…how is this not racist in nature? I mean, I don’t wanna be one of those white guys who thinks everyone is secretly racist against whites, but, seriously. If this were an ad for Chinese food that featured someone with a Fu-Manchu mustache and wearing a conical hat talking about how this is, “Vely, vely good Chinese food! Number one best for you!” wouldn’t that be racist? That of course would, and wouldn’t be ok, but is it ok in this case?

I’m actually going to say no. The little blond kid the lederhosen doesn’t need to be there. I’m sure there’s a way Pillsbury could express the vaguely German nature of their food without him.

You See, I Learned Something Today…


Shirley Sherrod is now being apologized to left and right… well, mostly left. There are some on the right who have been bitching about the lousy treatment she received, too, and that’s good.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this, and that lesson is “get your fact straight before making a decision.” Especially a very public one. Now the White House, Tom Vilsack and the NAACP are having to apologize for not knowing what the hell they were talking about.

You know, if you get the chance you should find and watch the entirety of Sherrod’s video. It’s actually quite fascinating. She strikes me as a woman I’d love to sit down and talk with. She’s clearly lead an interesting life and hearing her talk about that and the situations she’s lived through is really interesting.

Oh, and on a side note, can we please find a way to describe her mistreatment other than “thrown under a bus”? Yeesh.

Not Quite Getting the Point


I like Andrew Sullivan. I really do. He’s a conservative, but much more in the Tory tradition than the current crop of lunatic tea-baggers out there who call themselves conservatives. I don’t agree with him on everything, but he is a good writer and entertaining.

Sadly, like all of us, he has his blind spots. His particular blind spots seem to mostly center around his religion (Catholic). He’s caught a bit of flack for it lately and seemed to feel the need to provide defense for religion.

One form of this defense is an article he posted up today talking about his experience running into a shoe shiner at the airport in Waco. The shiner was an older black man, in his sixties, roughly, who’d lived in Waco all his life and experienced the segregation and inequalities.

From the article:

I asked him how he survived. “Prayer,” he instantly replied. “I just prayed. We all prayed. We’re Christians and we prayed. Couldn’t have got through it without prayer. And prayer for them too.”

He meant, prayer for those who tormented him.

Sullivan accepts that as a good and touching statement and I suppose that it is, if you ignore the fact that the only reason this man had to deal with racism and torment like this was because of slavery. Slavery that was endorsed by the Bible and backed up by Sullivan’s Catholic Church.

To be fair to Sully he doesn’t buy into everything the Church says, and at times seems close to making a leap or two away from the Church, but he still doesn’t understand that for all the good religion brings into the world, it still brings in more suffering and pain. Yes, Martin Luther King, Jr, was a good man and the civil rights movement used religion to help free the people, but it was freeing them from a legacy of slavery backed up by religion. Yes, the Catholic Church helps the poor and hungry in Africa, but it keeps them poor and hungry by telling them not to use condoms or other forms of birth control.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

N_GGERS


(it doesn’t mean what you think it does)

Through Andrew Sullivan’s blog, I found an article talking about racial diversity in major “liberal” cities, like Portaland, Denver, Austin and Seattle. The writer points out that they have substantially smaller than average numbers of black people living in them and somehow thinks this is significant. James Joyner finds this to be nonsense and some of Sullivan’s readers appear to agree.

Seattleskyline1cropped

I was born in Lacey, Washington, and spent several years of my adult life living in the University District of Seattle. The author of the original article is correct. There aren’t that many black people, as a percentage, in places like Seattle and very few in Lacey, at least when I was growing up.

But Sully’s readers are also correct. Blacks aren’t the only minority out there. When I was a kid going to elementary school in the 1970’s and 1980’s, I vividly remember getting used to names like Tran, Vinh and the like, since there were a lot of Vietnamese kids where I grew up. I learned at an early age to be accepting of people regardless of their skin color. Hell, one of my three best friends (and Dungeon Master, which also doesn’t mean what you think it does), was half Korean. I can’t say that I ever really noticed unless it was brought to my attention by things like him speaking Korean to his mother.

So I think the writer of the article is way off. Besides, I’m an elitist liberal who currently lives in Phoenix where about 41% of the population is Hispanic.

I think the writer of the original article is anxious to blame some imagined racist attitudes where, in fact, there’s nothing at work but geography.