BroadSnark

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
Subscribe

Archive for September, 2012

My Uterus Hates Elections

September 28, 2012 By: Mel Category: Politics

Giant Uterus Heads for GOP ConventionI always know there is an election coming up when my email and blog reader are filled with stories meant to scare my uterus into a self defensive trip to the voting booth.

This Republican sheriff candidate would shoot women who tried to have abortions. This Republican Senate candidate thinks there shouldn’t be a rape exception because women can’t get pregnant from rape. (Never mind if either of them win.) These asshats introduced a bunch of anti-abortion legislation. (Never mind if it got passed). Don’t you understand how much republicans hate women? Better go give Obama some money.

I’ve been saving all the “Republicans hate women” posts for a month. I had so many they crashed my web browser when I tried to pull them all up. Emily’s List even has this fancy War on Women graphic. Apparently, war is only an election topic when it refers to cutting funding for abortions. It isn’t like we need to talk about Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia or the worldwide war on drugs.

Abortion voters – Let me explain why you are, at best, wasting your time.  While you have been out fear voting for president and panicking about whether or not SCOTUS will overturn Roe v. Wade, states and cities have been regulating abortion out of existence. Instead of writing screeds about how misogynistic republicans are and putting all your energy into presidential elections, maybe you could try talking to the women that those republicans are appealing to.

Because candidates like Romney become “pro-life” when they run for president in order to appeal to the millions of people who don’t support abortion rights. And not all those people are men. Have you ever observed the yearly march for life in DC? Thousands come out for that. And the majority seem to be women.

But I guess it is easier to ignore those women and write them off as brainwashed.

I hate what those women believe. I think they are incredibly misguided. But dismissing them as tools of politicians or popes is as obnoxious as thinking all sex workers are passive victims who need to be rescued. Abortion rights are not in danger because of Mitt Romney. They are in danger because the 1.5 million women who live in Mississippi aren’t out in the streets trying to stop their last remaining abortion clinic from being regulated out of existence. And that is what people should be focused on.

Who becomes president isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. So all your scare emails are bullshit.

I don’t only get scare emails about abortion. Women’s health is the thing this year. 16.8 million dollars have been poured into political advertising on the subject. Today, Planned Parenthood wants me to #askmitt a bunch of questions about women’s health. Oddly, I don’t notice any questions about the health effects of incarceration, indefinite detention, or bombings. But I guess then we would have to ask Obama too and we can’t have that.

Meanwhile, Mitt is telling women that his party is going to give us economic opportunity. Because you too can step all over people and earn gazillions of dollars in the process. Then you don’t have to worry about unplanned pregnancy, cause you can just hire some poor woman to take care of those kids for you. Democrats are no better. Former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter explains how challenging it is to climb the ladder of success, sip champagne with important people, and still manage to raise kids. If only we had better daycare or slightly more flexible hierarchical jobs, then even more of us could make our dreams of champagne and nannys a reality.

The worst is when the male politician’s bullshit doesn’t quite stick and they trot out the wife. We are supposed to believe that George W. Bush can’t be that bad. I mean look how lovely Laura is. She is a woman who really knows her place. And what about that Michelle Obama speech at the democratic convention. She didn’t mention anything about her husband’s bank bailouts, but look how glamorous she is. Doesn’t it make you want to buy a new dress and head for the polls?

Sometimes the politicians will even throw a woman in the race to get us excited. Because once a woman is in power, everything will change. You know. Just like after Thatcher got elected. The only thing more torturious than hearing non-stop coverage of Sarah Palin last election is reading shit about how Hillary is god.

If you would rather burn the ladder than climb it. If you actually care about the lives of all people and not just fetuses or middle class women in the United States. If you are disgusted by politicians bombing women under the guise of protecting them. If you understand that good things don’t happen from the top down. Then there is nothing for you in politics, especially not in presidential elections.

Going to the polls because “at least he supports abortion rights” is like staying with some shitbag guy because “at least he doesn’t beat me.”  Fine. That’s better. But could we raise our expectations just a smidge?

I need some election strength midol.

Things You Might Miss

September 26, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

Art, Culture and Struggle FlierNot much time for news and blogs this week, but there is lots of stuff coming up. If any of you are in the DC area, come by and say hello.

Thursday

Justice Policy Institute is having a panel discussion about The High Price of Bail at the Busboys and Poets on 5th and K.

There is a happy hour benefit for Ayuda at Dirty Martini.

Jobs with Justice has a happy hour benefit at San Antonio Grill.

And my dear, hot friend Mourna Handful will be doing her burlesque thing at Red Palace.

Not sure how I am going to manage to be in five places at once tomorrow night, but it will be fun trying.

Friday!!!!

Positive Force and PM Press are hosting Josh MacPhee, Alec Dunn, Cindy Milstein, and Erik Ruin to talk about two new books – Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism. It is at St. Stephen Church. I’ll definitely be at this one. If you can’t make it, Cindy and Erik will also be speaking at the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday.

Saturday

We Are Family grocery delivery in Columbia Heights starting at 10:00 a.m.

It is the one year anniversary of Occupy DC and there is a ton of stuff going on. There is a very fancy pamphlet.

The Criminal (in)Justice Committee of Occupy has a teach-in about the Wells Fargo boycott at All Souls Church.

Mobius Strip is playing a benefit show at La Casa to raise money for Yoga Activist. I’ll be there to relieve you of your hard-earned/stolen money. (I’m not picky.)

Next Week

And next Friday, October 5th, Positive Force is hosting the POC Zine Project at St. Stephen. There will be zines. There will be bands. It will be good.

On Love, Life, Cocaine, and Impossible Monday Morning Questions

September 24, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

Scarface cocaine scene

Somehow my last post on mental illness ended up in a Facebook discussion about love. Well, I know how it happened. My friend asked if love was a mental illness and informed me that cocaine and love release the same chemicals in the brain.

This is an intense question for a hungover Monday morning, but what the hell.

I must admit that sometimes love and cocaine benders are strikingly similar. Amazing highs. Horrible crashes. Always wanting more. Knowing if you don’t stop you will fuck up your life for sure. And yet you keep going.

That might seem mental, but it depends on what you think love is supposed to be.

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in a personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace- not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth – James Baldwin

I think what Baldwin meant by “the infantile American sense” is that most Americans define love as, not just being happy, but being safe. It is the kind of love that people want to give to children, doing cartwheels through fields of flowers with not a care in the world. People crave a sense of security and calm, a refuge. Maybe that is why so many people marry someone like their parents and try to recreate their childhood life, or the childhood they wish they had.

And when intense emotions end up bringing anything but calm, security, and happiness people don’t know what to do with themselves.

We all need a refuge sometimes. But a refuge is a place to hide. You can’t hide forever. Security is mostly an illusion. Spending your life seeking security has awful consequences. That infantile American definition of love may actually explain a lot about our foreign policy.

If love is quest, daring, and growth then it isn’t about safety – at least not just. It is also about risk. Calm and turbulence. Highs and lows. Permanence and change. Pain and pleasure. Struggle and surrender. It is fucking things up and starting over again. It is whatever experiences you need to have. In short – LIFE.

And love doesn’t just apply to “romantic” or sexual relationships. In fact, it doesn’t need to apply to relationships at all. As much as we learn from our relationships with other people, even the most casual ones, we learn so much more on our own. And that is also a kind of love.

So no, T. I don’t think love is a mental illness. If anything, avoiding love/life in all its extremes might actually be the mental illness. But next time you should really ask me this kind of question on a Friday. Or when I’m drunk. Or both.

Thoughts on Societal Mental Illness

September 21, 2012 By: Mel Category: Conflict, Drugs, Sex

Make a claim that one snort of cocaine makes you irredeemably insane and people will line up behind laws that lock cocaine users up for life. But read that 73% of incarcerated women have mental health issues and many of those same people will find it a compelling argument against mass incarceration. (Private prison companies, of course, just see it as another opportunity to make money.)

Why?

There is a really interesting article about pedophiles on Wandervogel Diary. The thing that struck me the most was this.

Studies have consistently shown that pedophilia is associated with anomic states (war, famine, epidemics) and with major life crises (failure, relocation, infidelity of spouse, separation, divorce, unemployment, bankruptcy, illness, death of the offender’s nearest and dearest).

Few things cause a social panic quite like pedophilia. I don’t think most people ask where it comes from. It is seen as some individual aberration. If anyone wonders what went wrong, they probably blame it on porn or a lack of religious morality.  Which is ironic given that porn may actually prevent sex offenses and religiosity increase them.

If war is associated with pedophilia, then pedophilia is not an individual aberration. It is a societal disease. We are creating pedophiles in the same way we are creating self-medicating soldiers. And when we put people in prison for doing cocaine, especially if they end up in solitary, we may actually end up creating someone who won’t be able to function in society.

Perhaps at some level we realize that these are all monsters of our own making, that the things we do out of fear end up creating exactly what we are afraid of.

There is more I want to say about this. But I’m cutting myself off because I really want you to read this post on the scapegoating of “crazy”.  Love to hear your thoughts.

 

Things You Might Have Missed

September 19, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

Loved In Defense of Lust.

I am sincerely sad that I was unable to attend this American Enterprise Institute event entitled Assange’s asylum in Correa’s Ecuador: Last refuge for scoundrels? Roger Noriega, the man who – among other things – was hired to lobby for the Honduran coup government, was going to speak on the rule of law. I’m sure it was a  hoot.

The Heritage Foundation doubles down on Romney’s 47% comment. And they are freaking out that there will be baby boomers living on social security and medicare soon. Reminds me of this old Daily Show bit about giving old hippies drugs.

Can we get some of these food expropriations here please?

Google has unblocked the word bisexual. Maybe now iTunes will stop blocking the word vagina.

In Australia, they are talking about jamming cell phones in prisons. Which is interesting given that prisoners recently used their illicit phones to rescue some guards down in South Carolina.

As we are on the subject of prison guards, I don’t know quite what to make of this. Canadian prison guards are rallying against Harper’s tough on crime agenda.

California prisoners have made a historic call for peace.

If we really want to bring about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR system in a manner beneficial to all solid individuals who have never been broken by CDCR’s torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing, that now is the time for us to collectively seize this moment in time and put an end to more than 20-30 years of hostilities between our racial groups.

And more from Canada on prisoner resistance.

I always thought it was particularly cruel that prisoners made Victoria Secret lingerie. But in Germany they are making dildos. Damn Germans. Always trying to one-up us.

Can someone tell me when it became illegal to let kids play outside?

Thousands of people should be in the streets about Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, but I have hardly heard mention of it.

Read this post over at Womanist Musings on the guy who wants to take his kids out of sex ed. Then I saw this report about the state of sex ed in NY.

What kind of asshole parent wants drug-sniffing dogs at their kids’s school? And how is it o.k to have cameras recording kids in bathrooms?

If that isn’t creepy enough. How about if your hubby records your every move and keystroke.

My friend Tom read my last post and the Reefer Madness poster reminded him of this VD scare spoof with Carrie Fisher. Funny.

Continuing my love affair across time with James Baldwin, here he is talking about shame, racism, and America.  And great pics of James Baldwin in Istanbul. Mudede may be right.

The natural place for the writer is exile. It can be spiritual or physical exile, but they always have to be outside of their society, because writers are outsiders. The writer is out of place when they’re in their place. They need distance. They need to get away to process what it means to be who they are.

Ever notice how just when you think you started to figure a few things out life will come and kick you in the ass? Yeah. I need to get away.

Drug War History – And So It Begins

September 17, 2012 By: Mel Category: Drugs

Reefer MadnessWhile I was pulling up articles for my last post, I re-read the infamous New York Times piece Negro Cocaine “Fiends” Are a New Southern Menace. The article is a very convoluted argument against prohibition. And it is made by trying to scare the crap out of  ignorant people.

The doctor who wrote the article claimed that cocaine “may produce the wildest form of insane exaltation, accompanied by the fantastic hallucinations and delusions that characterize acute mania.” (They didn’t have very strict standards for doctors back then did they?)

Also, when on cocaine, a person “imagines that he hears people taunting or abusing him, and this often incites homicidal attacks upon innocent and unsuspecting victims.” (Given that this is 1914 in the South, I’m guessing those black men were not imagining the taunts and abuses.)

Did I mention that cocaine makes you impervious to bullets? No really. That’s what the good doctor said. Do a few bumps and your skin turns to kevlar or something.  So those poor cops in the South had to get bigger guns.

Oh and then there is this.

When we consider that even a single ounce – a quantity that does not fill an ordinary watch pocket – will keep fifty “fiends” well “doped” for a week or more, we can readily understand why every effort to suppress the traffic utterly fails.

OK now. You might have convinced me that there is some really good shit out there that gives you awesome hallucinations. I might have even gone for the bulletproof thing. But a single ounce wouldn’t have lasted me one night at Warsaw.* I’m gonna have to call bullshit.

Naturally, there is no solution to this insanity. “Once the negro has formed the habit he is irreclaimable. The only method to keep him from taking the drug is imprisoning him.”

It’s easy to make fun of this article and movies like Reefer Madness. They are so incredibly ridiculous. But what’s even more ridiculous is how much of it is still part of the public narrative. The crack cocaine reports I grew up with in the 80s weren’t a whole lot different from that 1914 article. One taste and a person is ruined for life. They are going to lose their mind. They will be violent.

There will be no social control!

And by social control we actually mean control of black men and women and “locoed” Mexicans – people like that. We can’t have bulletproof black guys just walking around. And what about those women who smoke weed and become all lusty and whatnot. The only legitimate response is to lock em all up, or at least tuck them away in a suburban kitchen making hamburger helper.

And that is the beginnings of the drug war. The only thing that changed is that it just kept getting worse.

_______________

*I cannot believe Warsaw is now a deli, that MSNBC’s Morning Joe broadcasted out of no less. South Beach has gone to shit.

Victims, Villains, and Heroes

September 14, 2012 By: Mel Category: Conflict, Core, Seeking, Stratification

Clint EastwoodWhen I first started delving into the drug war and criminal injustice system, I saw it as a process of dehumanization that I couldn’t ignore. While I had friends who were caught up in the system, as one of the least targeted people, the only connection I saw to my personal life was what I had learned as the grandkid of holocaust refugees.

People ask how atrocities could happen and a whole society be blind to them. While I don’t want to make comparisons between concentration camps and prisons, it isn’t hard for me to see how a whole country could have shut their eyes. People are tortured, raped, and murdered behind bars in this country now and most of us don’t even notice.

But the more I learned about how this particular dehumanization works, the more I realized the special role that I play in it. I’m the victim that excuses the violence.

If you have never read Ida B. Wells on lynchings, you need to. Despite the fact that the majority of black men who were lynched were not even accused of rape, the defenders of lynchings always used the rape of white women as their cover for murder – or as one Southern newspaper put it “the barbarism which preys upon weak and defenseless women.”

How ironic that white men used the rape of white women as their excuse. How many of us in the colonized world are a product of the rape of black and indigenous women by white men – what the Mexicans like to refer to as La Gran Chingada (the great rape)? But women of color are not generally the victims of our national narrative. They are mostly invisible.

As a white woman it is my job to be a victim to excuse the bloodthirst. The boxes people have tried to cram  me into my whole life – weakness, dependency, purity – are really just about playing that role. If you refuse to be defenseless. If you refuse to be appropriately dependent. If you refuse to be fallen. Then there is hell to pay. It isn’t just about control of women and their sexuality. It is that our role as victims is key in a narrative that holds up the authoritarian system.

If there are no victims and no villains then what need do we have for heroes? Our heroes are, of course, violent. Usually, they wear a uniform. Sometimes they might take it off for a night to do their lynchings undercover. But whether it is a cop or a soldier or a vigilante, we accept the armed and violent hero only because we believe in the helpless victim.

The racialized and genderized victim/villain/hero narrative undergirds everything. It is part of the lynchings of 100 years ago. It was there when we were accusing Chinese men of defiling white women to get opium laws passed. It is built into the criminal injustice system that targets men of color. It is part of every war that we fight, the way we use women as an excuse to bomb countries.

And what does it do to the people who are trying to live up to their role as hero by picking up those guns? In order to fit into that hero/man box you have to become a killer. You have to be broken down until whatever it is in you that recognizes another person’s humanity is gone. There is no coming back from that, certainly not for the thousands of soldiers who come back and kill themselves. Not likely for the prison guards either.

I’m not trying to infer equivalency between the experiences of someone sitting in solitary confinement and what is going through the head of the person who put them there. I’m not saying that a white woman’s fight to get out of the victim box can be compared to being lynched. The full weight of the system does not hit us all evenly.

Nor am I saying that people are never victimized, that some of the people in prison have not done horrible things. But most of those people have also been victims. We can all be victimized, villainous, or heroic. The system needs to wedge us into narrow categories in order to feed itself. It needs to provide a narrative that makes it seem like the armed thug’s job is something besides protecting the power and privilege of a handful of people.

We need to understand the connections. If we don’t, we will inevitably end up fighting against one part of the narrative while upholding another.

White women who fight the violence against them in a way that supports, rather than challenges, the racist criminal injustice system will never make life better for women. Black men who fight the criminal injustice system but hold a view that tries to put black women on the same purity pedestal that white women are chained to will never make life better for black people. Anti-authoritarians who don’t understand the role that racism and sexism play in upholding the state will never see it smashed.

For me, understanding the connections means being a really terrible victim. It means refusing the accept the villainization of men – especially men of color. It means refusing to accept the heroization of people with guns – even the ones I may have some sympathy for. It means focusing on the criminal injustice system and the war machine and any other victim/villain/hero narrative that keeps this state alive.

Because if we break those narratives we all get out of our boxes, real and metaphorical. We break the fear. We stop so much of the torture and violence and suffering.

No more victims. No more villains. No more heroes.

Things You Might Have Missed

September 12, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

I have heard nothing about the killings in Kashmir.

I get that I am supposed to be excited about the teacher strike. But in addition to the bullshit I wrote about a bit ago, all I am reading is how evil our schools are. Gay students have to put up with constant harassment and violence. Students in Texas are being assigned tracking chips. Kids are getting solitary confinement for minor “behavioral issues.” And poor kids are getting sent to jail for skipping school. I don’t think protesting against standardized testing is quite enough.

Melissa Gira Grant writes about prostitution and the rescue industry. “What marks us as fallen – whether from feminism or Christ or capital – is any suggestion that prostitution did not ruin us and that we can deliver that news ourselves.”

And as long as we are on the subject of prostitutes. Some dude claims that the woman he was paying for sex jacked up the price on him. So he did what? That’s right. He called the cops. The best part. They arrested her and only her.

That woman who sells sex will likely join the ever growing number of women in prison, mostly for petty drug crap.  There are a few violent crimes in there, often self defense. But they don’t want to hear about  self defense if you are a woman.  Once you are in prison, perhaps you will be lucky enough to not be raped. You will most certainly be denied any kind of reading material that might say some real shit. You are probably one of the 73% of women in prison who have mental health issues, but don’t expect mental health care. And good luck trying to get your kids back or a job once you get out.

Anyone have any thoughts about where the $475 million went in Afghanistan?

And here is something fun. A new mobile app is going to make it easier for you to call the cops on all your neighbors for their bad driving. Cause that is what we really need.

Let’s hope you don’t run into any bad drivers during a protest, cause your phone probably won’t be working.

I just read an interview with Claudette Colvin, the first girl who refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery. She talks about how she was radicalized by the Jeremiah Reeves case. He was a kid in her high school that was accused of raping a white woman. Alabama authorities held him until he was of age and then executed him. Apparently, a lot of the young people who sparked the civil rights movement were affected by his case. So how come almost nobody has ever heard of it. Can’t even find shit on the internets hardly.

Anybody out there take Takoma PD up on their offer to taser you?

Julienne decides to try the Fuck of the month club. Hilarity ensues.

You have by now heard about the woman who was sexually assaulted by a cop in a bar and was told by the judge in the case that she “learned a lesson.” Cause clearly a woman can’t expect to go out for a drink without getting, at minimum, finger fucked by a cop. And in case you thought that judge was unique, here is a whole list of charming assholes on the bench.

Dear judges, school administrators, rescue industry asshats, prison guard rapists, cop rapists, people who call the cops on their neighbors… I’m not feeling very charitable this week. The following dedication comes from the very bottom of my heart.

All Answers Will Soon Be Revealed

September 10, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

Apologies for all the unanswered blog comments and emails. I meant to reply before now. It is just that I had the loveliest, laziest labor day and it sort of carried on for a bit. But I’m back to real life now and will respond and post serious stuff soon. Until then, enjoy a little Morcheeba.