Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Archive for November, 2010

Things You Might Have Missed

November 30, 2010 By: Mel Category: Misc

Just finished on Thinking Liberty.  Not sure when the podcast will be up.  Love to hear what you think.

Related to the discussion gendered caregiving roles, here is a post about how it is harder for an immigrant child to gain citizenship if it is her father, rather than mother, who is a citizen.

And yet more important stuff related to caregiving in this post about sexism in the anarchism movement.

Apparently, some people are trying to make December 6th anarchy world day.  One down and 364 to go.

If you have been following the TSA bruhaha (and who hasn’t), you should really read this piece on the Black Agenda Report called If the Airport is a Police State, What is the Ghetto?

Sometimes people’s cluelessness amazes me.  Romanticizing slavery? Fail.

I went through a backlog of articles this weekend, so this one is a bit old.  It is about the human rights framework and how it is compromised.  Most interesting is how it is presented in opposition to what most people were calling for at the time – self determination.

Also from the archives is this piece on property.  This one should start a conversation.

I’ve never actually couch surfed.  But I love the concept.  So I was sad to read this article about some couch surfers who were assaulted and attacked.  I was even sadder to see the knee jerk calls for ending the whole thing.  Like nobody has ever been attacked in a hotel. Sigh.

This doc on Jewish anarchists is adorable.  I wish my grandma was as cute as the women in this film.

You may have figured out by now that I am somewhat obsessed with James Baldwin.  This talk he gave is fascinating.  Watch it.

James Baldwin in London from George Dickson on Vimeo.

Things You Might Have Missed

November 25, 2010 By: Mel Category: Misc

If you live in the DC area, we will be having a really free market on Tuesday, December 14th from 7 PM to 10 PM at the Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Rd NW, Wash DC.

This Tuesday, November 30th, it looks like I’ll be on Thinking Liberty at a little after 8 PM U.S. eastern standard time.  We’ll be talking about the Food, Water, Air and Care post.  Hope you can tune in.  I think you can ask questions.  If you are otherwise engaged on Tuesday, I believe there will be a recording available afterwards.

This piece on anarchism is interesting.  I chuckled heartily at the mention of “hormonal anarchism.”

You have probably already seen this Guardian story on anarchism, but just in case…

I liked this PBS segment on the time bank in Portland, Maine.  Show this to anyone who doesn’t think anarchism is mainstream.  (Doesn’t matter if they don’t think they are anarchists.)

Here is some practical advice on starting a housing coop.

It’s frustrating that Portugal is barring activists from entering the country for the NATO summit.  But I almost think it might be good for us if some country barred a bunch of peace activists and then things exploded anyway.  No more of the it’s just outsiders excuse.

If I had lived in Renaissance times, I would totally have been a nun.

This post on Alternet about one woman’s experience as a prostitute fits in really nicely with my last post.

And while we are on the subject of awesome sex workers – FurryGirl stripped for her TSA search.  You can see the video here.  Ballsalicious. (Not at work)

Jon Stewart gets called out on Atheist Revolution. “Whoever said that truth had to be convenient, make people feel good, or result in extended conversation?”  Indeed.

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about violence and nonviolence lately.  HT to Gene M for sharing this article on How Nonviolence is Misrepresented.

I can’t remember who shared this Tough Guise video with me.  Thanks to you.  It is long, but the examination of masculinity is well worth the time.

And finally, some Thanksgiving entertainment:

Are all Johns (and Janes) the Same?

November 18, 2010 By: Mel Category: Sex, Stratification

Last Tuesday I linked to an article that really bugged me, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on all the reasons why.  It was about a brothel for women that is opening in New Zealand.  The author of the article was predicting that the brothel would be a failure because women “have to be paid to have sex with strangers.”

At first I thought what was bothering me about the article was that same old tired trope about women wanting relationships while men just want to get off.  There is no way to know for sure what women would or would not want if we lived in a society where women having sex with multiple partners (or any kind of sex) didn’t come with such massive social disapproval.  There is no way to know for sure what men would or would not want if we lived in a society that didn’t hold up James Bond as their emblem for promiscuous, manly virility.

Even in our present culture, surveys show that the number of sexual partners that men have and women have aren’t very far off.  And in some of the surveys, where the numbers are farther apart, the respondents who reported high numbers admitted to lying.  Not to mention all the societies that have had much different ideas about sex. Jesuit missionaries from France were shocked by the sexual freedom that Montagnais-Naskapi Indian women had.*

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t what was really bugging me about the article. What was bugging me was the portrait this woman was painting of who would go to a prostitute and why.  She didn’t go so far as to claim that every guy who goes to a prostitute is some emotionally stunted pervert who just wants to get off without having to treat the other party like a human being (as so many people do).  But she did infer that the only reason someone would go to a prostitute was because they wanted to have anonymous sex with strangers.  And she implied that they prefered that anonymous sex to other options that they had.   But what were the other options?

Mike Jones is the gay male escort who outed Ted Haggard.  He wrote a book about his life called I Had to Say Something.  In it, he describes some of his experiences with clients.  He wrote about a client who had diabetes and lost both of his legs, about a client who was ninety and just wanted someone to touch him, about clients who were filled with shame because they lived in a society where their desires – for men, for cross-dressing – were considered vile.  In other words, a lot of his clients were people who had serious challenges to having sexual relationships. Surely it isn’t only men that face those challenges.  Should they be ashamed? Vilified? Criminalized? Abstinent?

There is something really disturbing to me about someone who refuses to see whole groups of people as human. And that goes for people who may be participating in something that is problematic in a lot of ways.  There are serious issues related to the sex industry – trafficking, violence, economic exploitation – but the people who vilify all the Johns and victimize all the sex workers are being just as dehumanizing as they claim the people in the industry are.

Isn’t it possible to understand that human beings have complex reasons for the things that they do?  Isn’t it possible to recognize the humanity of people who do things that you may not agree with, while still being honest about how they may be contributing to a problematic system?  Can’t we hold two thoughts in our head at the same time?

* From Stephanie Coontz’s Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

Things You Might Have Missed

November 16, 2010 By: Mel Category: Misc

Apologies for missing my Thursday post.  I’ll make it up to you.

You may have heard that there was a protest in Haiti.  UN peacekeepers are being blamed for the Cholera outbreak that has killed more than 900 people.  What a clusterfuck.  And the media reporting has been hideous.

Also a clusterfuck is the prison system,  with New Orleans at the top of the heap.  And if you want to know one of the reasons why the system is so screwed up, just read this report on public defenders.

But hey, at least some of those people get some kind of attorney.  The poor shlubs Taibbi describes in his new Rolling Stone piece about foreclosures don’t get shit.  I’ve written about my experiences working for debt collectors before.  What Taibbi is describing has always gone on at some level and it isn’t just about foreclosures.  I seriously think that if everybody started actually fighting these things, the whole court system would collapse.

There are some people out there doing really incredible work in the prison system though.  If you don’t know who Victoria law is, you should.  Here’s an interview with her.  You might also be able to catch her on tour.

This article about male feminists or allies who actually turn out to be vile abusers and rapists is both disturbing and perfectly timed.  It’s getting to the point where, when some guy tells me he is a feminist, I want to haul ass in the opposite direction.

And speaking of men who want to swoop in and save us poor women, Clarisse Thorn has a good piece about the Anti-Porn Men Project.  I personally am a bit more hostile to them, but good for her for giving them a chance. Clarisse is like my blogger of month.  She writes some really great stuff, like this piece on what she wishes people had told her about sex.

Far less offensive are these anti-sex work protesters in the Ukraine.  (Not work safe.)

It is so rare that I get to mention news about Oklahoma that doesn’t involve trying to ban abortion or impose biblical law on all of us.  The Oklahomans I know are quite helpful and would definitely stop to help someone on the side of the road – unless they are from Westboro Baptist Church.

Now I tend to be someone who tries to see the humanity in everyone.  I don’t really categorize people into enemies and friends, at least not generally.  But I must admit that this piece by FurryGirl spoke to me.  It’s also an excellent example of how to handle anti-social behavior without the law.  And how can you not love someone who quotes both Roadhouse and Red Dawn in the same article?  (Not work safe.)

In news of WTF, some parents are in danger of losing their kids because of their anti-racist activism.  And cops are now raiding barber shops and charging people for cutting hair without a license.

Finally, this Thursday is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  There’s an event here in DC at the Metropolitan Community Church.  You can find out about more events here.

Things You Might Have Missed

November 09, 2010 By: Mel Category: Misc

Ansel has a report up on the aftermath of the hurricane in Haiti.

I absolutely love the way these people looked at harm caused by substance abuse.  My very non-scientific personal experience backs up 100% that alcohol is the worst regarding harm to others.  Guess I need to start drinking less and doing more mushrooms.

You may have heard that conservatives are the biggest consumers of porn.  In related news, a new porn site is causing controversy for being exclusively focused on native women – some of whom are called “welfare chicks.”  Suddenly, conservative policies make sense.  Do I think there is anything wrong with thinking native women are hot?  No.  Do I think you’re a sick fuck if you think it’s hot that so many native women are in poverty.  Yes.

They are opening a brothel for women in New Zealand, which the woman who wrote that article thinks will be a miserable failure.  Apparently, some women on the street didn’t admit to wanting as many sexual partners as men, so they must not be horny enough for brothels.  Methinks it has a lot more to do with the head trips that people put women on than it does our actual desires.  Don’t take my word for it, check out some of the new writing on the subject.  Perhaps Lucy Lawless’s country is a bit less oppressive than ours.  Be interesting to see how it turns out.  If anyone wants to send me a ticket to New Zealand to investigate….

One in 28 U.S. children has a parent in prison.  For black children it is one in nine!  These kids are at risk in so many ways.  We are never going to get out of the hole we are in until we stop incarcerating people.  In addition to not sending people to jail for drugs, how about letting out women who are in prison for defending their own lives?

I don’t know what is better, the fact that the pope is panicking about losing so many Catholics in Spain or the fact that the Spanish people met him with a giant homosexual kiss in.

Check out this post on Who Speaks for Muslims.  Do not miss the video by deaf, Muslim, anarchist, punk Sabina England.  It’s hilarious.

And finally, this debate on sexism in hip hop is really interesting.  I love how they throw the sexism in the church back at the hip hop critics.

The Power of Principle

November 04, 2010 By: Mel Category: Core, Politics

So I got into a little twitter spat a few weeks ago.  One of the people I follow made the following statement:

Some bloggers feel it’s better to be principled than in power.

Naturally, I objected. The conversation turned into one of those us v. them tropes.  Us, in the case of this twitterer, being  progressives.  Whatever that means.

We have to stop the conservatives.  We have to choose between “2 years of investigations about birth certificates, or trying to inch forward with our agenda.”  (I’m not sure what “our” agenda is.  Mine doesn’t include assassinations, American citizens or not, or massive bailouts to hedge funds.)

More importantly, it’s a false choice.  You don’t have to compromise your principles to have power.  You only have to compromise them to have the kind of corrupt, coercive power that has gotten us into this craphole.  Didn’t Martin Luther King have both power and principle?  How about Gandhi?  Emma Goldman?  James Baldwin?

The people whose power lasts are those whose power comes from their principles, not from selling their principles out.  It’s not naive to think that people shouldn’t sell their principles to power.  It’s naive to think that someone in power who has sold their principles can do us any good.

And now the progressives/democrats/liberals/whatever are out bemoaning their loss of congressional seats.  And they wonder why.  Hello out there!  People know when you are willing to sell out your principles and they generally don’t like it.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the actually tweet that started this all was referring to the five bloggers that Peter Daou thinks are “bringing down the Obama presidency.”  I thought I must have somehow made a mistake, that I was misunderstanding.  I mean surely it was not being suggested that the media should become a cheerleader for the democrats.  Guess it was my turn to be naive.  The twitter convo is below.   A third party jumped in.  He actually quoted Macchiavelli – – fucking Macchiavelli.  I kid you not.

And these people wonder why they keep losing.


Me: I don’t understand.  You think Greenwald et al shouldn’t write about those things?

Shoq: I think they can be constructive critics without threatening to tear down any progress we’ve made against a rabid right.  In fact, it’s helping to drive us farther off a cliff.

Me: They aren’t working for the democratic party.  That’s not their job.

Shoq: I don’t work for them either.

Then this guy jumps in:

JeffersonObama: Greenwald, Olbermann should help the Dems by posting voting info and supporting all Americans opposed to Teabag sycophants

Me:  Journalists/Bloggers jobs are to tell it like they see it, to give people info to make informed choices…Despite what Fox may have people believe, it is not their job to be partisan hacks

JeffersonObama: Fox News is the reason their voters are organized to vote on election day..they have maps, sites & work with 501s, 527s & GOP

Me: So just our side and their side, leave your principles or honesty at the door.  Win, win, thought to what you win?

JeffersonObama: Our bloggers tell our voters to hate Obama, our values and then fold up and run. Bloggers are Cowards. Some of us are fighting

Me: I’ve never heard Greenwald say people should hate Obama.  Being in lockstep with dems when they are wrong is not brave.

JeffersonObama: Simply, as Machiavelli writes, “The answer … it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” Stand up & fight

Me: LOL.  The only thing people seem afraid of is being principled even when it means giving up their “we’re the good guys” bs

JeffersonObama: Bloggers like you hate our party more than GOP. That’s fine, but at least don’t discourage our fighters to take on GOP-Teabags

Me: You miss the point.  I don’t hate.  And I definitely don’t make life out to be a football game btwn 2 teams of 9 yr olds

JeffersonObama: I’m not talking Football. I’m noyt talking low brow slogans..I’m talking about winning in politics..not meant for some obviously



P.S.  In case you missed it, Glenn Greenwald took Daou and the rest down.

Things You Might Have Missed

November 02, 2010 By: Mel Category: Misc

Another busy weekend.  Saw Budrus on Friday.  It was excellent.  It’s playing in theaters all over the place.  You should see it, not just if you are interested in Israel/Palestine.  It has some interesting things to ponder for anyone who wants to use direct action for radical change.

Went to the National Mall to help keep fear alive on Saturday.  It was a madhouse.  Couldn’t hear a damn thing.  I watched part of it on video on Sunday.  There were some phenomenally funny signs.  Lots of Stewart and Colbert fans seem to be pro pot, pro masturbation, and pro sodomy.  Best part was having some awesome (and previously unknown) house guests.  I love meeting random cool people.

This article on family friendly radical movements kind of ties in nicely with my post from last Thursday.

I wish I could remember who posted this video on Facebook.  It’s Astra Taylor talking about unschooling.  It’s a bit long, but I think you’ll dig it.

Can you believe I actually ran into someone who completely denies racism?  How many reports about how much more likely black people are to get arrested, sentenced, and jailed would a person have to see before they believe?  Christ, I hate willful ignorance.

This post is a really great response to people who are irritated about “political correctness.”

Many of the things I think about anti-porn peeps are nicely summed up here.

I’ll be taking off for the RAT this weekend.  So apologies if I am a little slow to respond to comments while I’m gone.  Hopefully, I will have lots of interesting stuff to report back on.