cruelty

Berlatsky on Manhood and Masculinity

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Noah Berlatsky (@nberlat), via Twitter, 4 May 2018.

There are actual problems men face. They do not include the tyranny of women forcing them to sleep on the couch.
     Male suicide rates are terrifyingly high. Men experience workplace injury and death at high rates. Men make up the bulk of the prison population.
     Violence against men tends to target marginalized men. it also tends to be inflicted by other men.
     Patriarchy is incredibly cruel to (some) men. This cruelty and violence is enforced by the kind of proscriptive gender roles that incels, Matt Walsh, Douthat, Jordan Peterson, et. al., consign and promulgate.
     All these assholes claiming they’re helping men are actively working to kill, imprison, and immiserate men, as a sideline to killing, oppressing, abusing and [denigrating]α women.
     It is frustrating, to put it mildly, to see someone like Peterson touted as a solution for alienated men, when his ideas and policy proposals will result in more of those men dying and living in misery.
     The biggest human rights atrocity in the US today is the mass incarceration of marginalized men. But when pundits suck their thumbs about the crisis of men or how we need to help alienated men, nobody ever mentions the single most important issue. Why?
     After a misogynist terror attack, we could be having a discussion about the toll misogyny wreaks on women *and* men, and how patriarchy is a death cult that we need to destroy.
     Instead we’ve got people furrowing their brows and seriously talking about a lack of access to sex, as if this is men’s first, or 600th problem in this society.
     If you want to help men, a good first step would be to stop hating women, and to stop hating femininity.
     Until we do that, we’re all fucked.

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α Original: “… sideline to killing, oppressing, abusing, and immigrating women.”

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A Two-Bit Poseur

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Josh Gerstein, for Politico:

Licking their wounds after a stinging appeals court defeat, President Donald Trump’s aides went into triage mode Friday as they considered options for salvaging his contested travel ban for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.

In two different venues Friday afternoon, Trump suggested that the White House is trying to redraft the order to strengthen it against legal challenges, which he expects the administration to continue to fight in court.

It would seem obvious that simply scrapping the former Order in favor of a new one would be the most efficient means of getting various intended restrictions into place. This is not, after all, the sort of thing where you can make headway simply thrashing and hammering over and over and over until judges grow weary of hearing about it and give over, anyway. Then again, this is the Trump administration, so, we ought not be surprised if they try. Meanwhile, among the various running theses out there chattering about what the Trump administration is actually up to, we should probably maintain some space to work a proposition of basic antisocial inclination. That is to say, this isn’t really about national security or even undocumented immigration. This is about taking satisfaction in cruelty, so as many times as the Trump administration can denigrate and offend the people they hate, they will.

And then there is always the countdown until someone says something to the effect of thinking about future presidents, and does anyone actually know the earliest in a term we’ve ever heard the line?

And remember, when the pieces don’t quite add up because, you know, why would any president so denigrate himself as Donald Trump does? Oh, right. Never mind. Could have had her, but uneducated, seething, simpering, terrified, brutish incompetence is #WhatTheyVotedFor. No, really. Remember that this ain’t over until it’s over, and in the meantime, given the range of options under the sun for an American president, it shouldn’t be hard for the handlers to convince a two-bit poseur to keep it up.

And every time someone suggest that sort of indifference to policy failure doesn’t make sense, remember every human being these policies spit on. Because that is the point, to simply spit and piss and yowl and hiss in order to offend and hurt as many people as they already don’t like or can find any excuse to add to the list. And if they get to stomp every once in a while, in between court dates and injunctions, all to the better. They know they cannot win over the long run; this president and his administration just want to hurt as many people as possible while they have the chance.

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Image note: Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters.

Gerstein, Josh. “Trump team plans a new executive order”. Politico. 10 February 2017.

Empowerment (Jumping for Jesus)

Via The Hill:

A letter distributed in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, over the weekend asked the state’s Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley to jump off a bridge for Jesus.

According to Portland CBS affiliate KOIN 6 News, the letter asks God to “help Jeff Merkley walk over the Fremont Bridge and jump off into the Willamette River on Christmas Eve.”

“Let there be wine & song,” the letter read. “Every kind of food & drink; let toasts be made and laughter & hugs.”

It seems worth reminding the cultivation of two decades worth of conservative lulzbaiting, even before the days of lulz and roses. That is to say, there really isn’t any point to being outraged, which in turn is like allowing ourselves to actually feel terrorized and thereby accomplishing the terrorist’s goal. In this case, the point is to offend. But this is not pointed offense; this isn’t making any coherent statement. This is essentially cruelty and offense for the sake of self-gratification.

Christians, though. Yeah. Good luck with that. They’re in your churches; they always have been. This isn’t something out there, happening to someone else. This is really happening.

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Garcia, Eric. “Letter to Merkley Asks Him to Jump Off Bridge for Jesus”. Roll Call. 21 November 2016.

¿Normalization?

Naota (at right), tugs on the electrical cable rectally feeding a sex toy designed to look like his father (bottom), while MiuMiu the cat catches some rays. (FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

This is a sentence that ought to thrill hearts: “America may be closer to a post-gay state of politics than most realize”. Alex Roarty’s report for Roll Call either begs certain questions or else desecrates them; matters of perspective abide.

The St. Jerome Fancy Farm Picnic is an annual showcase for Kentucky’s top politicians to give (they hope) a funny, sharp-elbowed speech at the other party’s expense. While they speak, hundreds of loud-mouthed partisans are encouraged to yell and scream as loudly as they can―as if the American political id was caged in a small pavilion two hours from a major airport.

U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray (D) speaks the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, on Saturday, 6 August 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)“I want to introduce myself to Sen. McConnell,” he said, looking over to the Senate majority leader seated a few feet away, who minutes earlier had given his own speech. The Republicans, whose voices drowned out the sound of nearby thunder, chanted “Go away Gray!”

The candidate continued: “He earlier called me a ‘nobody.’ Well, let me introduce myself, senator. I am Jim Gray, and I am the guy who is going to beat Rand Paul.”

What went unnoticed this recent Saturday afternoon was that Gray was probably first openly gay person to speak at Fancy Farm. Records aren’t easy to come by for something that began in 1880, but veterans of the event say they can’t recall an openly gay speaker.

This is how Gray’s campaign has gone: He’s making history, and nobody seems to notice. Or, for that matter, care.

(more…)

An Obvious Question (Illinois Ignominy)

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

This is … what, traditional family values?

According to a proposed bill filed last week by two Republican Illinois state lawmakers, if a father is not listed on a newborn’s birth certificate, the birth certificate will not be issued and any future financial assistance will be denied.

The proposed bill HB6064 by Representative John Cavaletto and Representative Keith Wheeler would amend the Illinois Vital Records Act to require that unwed mothers either name a father on the birth certificate or within 30 days go to court and have another family member sign the birth certificate and agree to accept financial responsibility for the child ....

.... If a single mother fails to name the father or identify another guardian, the child will not be issued a birth certificate and the family will be permanently banned from public assistance. The bill makes no exception for rape or incest victims. Under current law, an unmarried father is not named on the birth certificate unless he signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

(Tesfaye)

You know, something useful is supposed to go here, but in truth I am uncertain what that is. More specifically, I’m still stuck on the obvious question.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

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Tesfaye, Sophia. “Illinois Republicans target single mothers and their babies: GOP bill would ban birth certificates, financial aid if father is not named”. Salon. 25 February 2016.

Required Reading (Hilariousless)

"All of a sudden, I could do anything." ― Mikasa Ackerman

It’s one of those things where an associate throws down one day and flies unimaginable colors, and we are so amazed, and appalled. Never mind. That’s my business, not my soapbox. The end result is that I had occasion to recall Melissa McEwan’s “Rape is Hilarious”, which in turn is at least as horrifying as it sounds.

If not laughing at a bunch of men sitting around talking about fucking women to death makes me a humorless feminist, then I wear the badge proudly—because I’m not just a humorless feminist; I’m a bitch who was nearly fucked to death. Isn’t that just fucking hilarious?

It is about as devastating as you would expect. Go. Read. Now.

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McEwan, Melissa. “Rape is Hilarious”. Shakesville. 11 May 2007.

Oklahoma Virtue

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

Oklahoma. Republicans. Of course they did:

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow dependent on handouts and not learn to take care of themselves." Thus ends today's lesson in irony #OKGOP. (Oklahoma Republican Party, via Facebook, 13 July 2015)The Oklahoma Republican Party is under fire after a controversial Facebook post.

In the post, the Oklahoma GOP compared providing food stamp benefits for Americans in need to feeding animals at national parks.

“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people,” the Oklahoma Republican Party said on Facebook. “Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.’ Thus ends today’s lesson in irony #OKGOP.”

(Franklin)

The KFOR report notes the predictable negative reaction, including the obvious question about comparing people to wild animals, an invocation of the words of Jesus Christ, and an identifying conservative denouncing the “counterproductive” “disgrace” and “awful taste” of the post.

Which leaves only the other obvious question: What the hell is wrong with the Oklahoma GOP?

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Image notes: Top ― Detail of Lucifer, by Franz von Stuck, 1890. RightImage of Facebook post by Oklahoma Republican Party, 13 July 2015.

Franklin, Dallas. “Oklahoma Republican Party under fire after controversial Facebook post”. 14 July 2015.

The Price of Freedom

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Live free and die? Oh, wrong state.

A Calais man was killed Saturday night after placing a fireworks mortar tube atop his head and setting it off, according to Maine State Police. It was the first fireworks-related death in Maine since fireworks were legalized in 2012.

Police said the bizarre incident occurred at roughly 10 p.m. in a residential backyard on South Street. Devon Staples, 22, was setting off fireworks with some friends when he “placed the fireworks mortar tube on top of his head and set it off,” the investigation found.

Investigators said the explosion caused a fatal head injury, and Staples died instantly.

(Anderson)

This is why people stick with the simple act of offering condolences. Because, you know, what is anyone supposed to do with that sad tale?

And it is true there is certain dark and morbid humor; many of us appreciate at least the idea of the Darwin Awards, but in the end we are laughing at human tragedy. Or, rather, that we are laughing at some particular absurdity within that tragic context does not erase the fact of human tragedy.

To the one, for instance, we have a dead man, and it is a safe bet that someone, somewhere in the world, misses him.

To the other, we have this dude who tried to launch a mortar off his head and died. What the hell is anyone supposed to do with that?

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Anderson, J. Craig. “Calais man dies after setting off fireworks from atop his head”. Portland Press Herald. 5 July 2015.

The Bobby Jindal Show (Fun Time Sneak Leak Preview)

Republican Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

“If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)

Sometimes the question of where to start is not so easily resolved. The essential point to remember is that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, perhaps hoping to impress conservative voters as he prepares a 2016 Republican presidential nomination bid, has seemingly run out of room to maneuver against marriage equality. Yesterday’s ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was the third, and yet Mr. Jindal still desperately seeks to delay:

But while Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration previously had said it was waiting on that 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling before recognizing same-sex marriages, top state officials dug in their heels Wednesday and said they wouldn’t change course until a district court orders them to do so.

That only widens the gap between the administration and the reality on the ground across the state. Clerks or other officials in nearly all parishes have now said they will issue licenses to same-sex couples, even as Jindal administration officials continue to tell state agencies to hold off on accepting them as valid.

The administration’s delay in accepting the Supreme Court’s ruling may be behind another point of conflict that cropped up on Wednesday as members of newly married same-sex couples seeking to change the name on their driver’s licenses to reflect their union found their efforts thwarted by the Office of Motor Vehicles.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit appeared to address the administration’s stalling.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is “the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court,” the ruling said.

“We express no view on how controversies involving the intersection of these rights should be resolved but instead leave that to the robust operation of our system of laws and the good faith of those who are impacted by them.”

The panel then ordered district judges who have overseen cases involving same-sex marriage, including U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans, to issue final judgments in their cases legalizing and recognizing same-sex marriage by July 17.

Normally that ruling, and any judgments that come from the lower courts, would be largely procedural measures now that the Supreme Court has decided the issue. And, indeed, that’s how they have been treated in most of the country, where clerks began issuing licenses immediately after Friday’s ruling.

But Jindal administration officials have said they won’t comply until forced to do so. While they initially pointed to the 5th Circuit’s decision as the event that would fully grant gay marriage rights in Louisiana, they changed course after the ruling was handed down and said they would continue to follow the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriages until forced to do so by a lower court.

(Adelson and Shuler)

So, yeah. That’s what is going on in Louisiana. And, you know, there comes a point where this isn’t about anything else than sheer petulant malice.

Or, as Bobby Jindal is wont to call it, leadership.

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Image note: Republican Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Hensch, Mark. “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”. The Hill. 26 June 2015.

Adelson, Jeff and Marsha Shuler. “5th Circuit Court tells Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriages; Jindal administration still balks”. The Advocate. 2 July 2015.

A Bob Beckel Moment

Bob Beckel

“These are words I never thought I would say: I feel kind of sorry for Bob Beckel.”

Jack Mirkinson

And then there is this:

On Thursday afternoon, the network informed Mediaite that Beckel—who had been off the air for a while thanks to some well-publicized struggles with drug addiction—is no longer on the payroll and won’t be returning as a co-host of panel show “The Five.” After the site said that the parting was “amicable,” Fox News went to Politico to emphasize that, no, it was not:

“We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn’t hold ‘The Five’ hostage to one man’s personal issues,” Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming, said in a statement. “He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”

To call that “harsh” isn’t even an understatement. It’s an under-under-under-under-understatement. Fox News is famous for the pugnaciousness it employs when talking about its competitors, but to turn on your own employee like that when he’s dealing with a drug problem is fairly jaw-dropping. No matter what private misery Bob Beckel may have put his colleagues through, Fox News had the option of letting him go quietly and leaving him to handle his clearly tough fight with addiction. Instead, the network chose to drive the knife through. That’ll definitely help Beckel get better, won’t it?

(Mirkinson)

Honestly, Bob Beckel’s name is not one we might enjoy recalling; as a FOX News host he has been such a horror show one would rather forget he exists. And while schadenfreude whispers from the shadows of conscience that it could not have happened to a … what, really? … is the joke really that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy? … the fact is that there is absolutely no excuse for kicking an addict when he is down. Mr. Beckel entered rehab in April, and at the time, according to Andrew Kirell of Mediaite, “As with Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett’s treatment for alcoholism last year, Beckel’s employment status remains unchanged”.

Certes, some might protest that two months is not nearly long enough, but perhaps there really are circumstances that required his termination. Nonetheless, what kind of asshole do you have to be in order to be the president of programming at FOX News? Bill Shine could have left the Mediaite suggestion of an amicable parting alone. Or he could have just said, “You know, actually, it was kind of a mess.” But to go out of his way to mop the floor with Beckel like he did?

Yeah. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your FOX News.

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Mirkinson, Jack. “Fox News just fired one of its hosts in the most vicious & humiliating way imaginable”. Salon. 26 June 2015.

Kirell, Andrew. “Fox’s Bob Beckel Undergoes Addiction Rehab”. Mediaite. 30 April 2015.