Fellow Travelers

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

PSA - either Australia has mass shootings or we don't have one a day

I see plenty of memes on Facebook that we've had a "mass shooting a day". This number originated as intentional propaganda by an anti-gun subreddit, and has been repeated by the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the New York Times.

But by the Mother Jones definition we've had 4. Their editor did an op-ed for the New York Times where he explains:

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

 He then describes the different methods of counting used:

For at least the past decade, the F.B.I. regarded a mass shooting as a single attack in which four or more victims were killed. (In 2013, a mandate from President Obama for further study of the problem lowered that threshold to three victims killed.) When we began compiling our database in 2012, we used that criteria of four or more killed in public attacks, but excluded mass murders that stemmed from robbery, gang violence or domestic abuse in private homes. Our goal with this relatively narrow set of parameters was to better understand the seemingly indiscriminate attacks that have increased in recent years, whether in movie theaters, elementary schools or office parks.

The statistics now being highlighted in the news come primarily from shootingtracker.com, a website built by members of a Reddit forum supporting gun control called GunsAreCool. That site aggregates news stories about shooting incidents — of any kind — in which four or more people are reported to have been either injured or killed.

He explains the danger in using the wider definition:

There is value in collecting those stories as a blunt measure of gun violence involving multiple victims. But as those numbers gain traction in the news media, they distort our understanding. According to our research at Mother Jones — subsequently corroborated by the F.B.I. — the more narrowly defined mass shootings have grown more frequent, and overwhelmingly involve legally obtained firearms. Experts in the emerging field of threat assessment believe that this is a unique phenomenon that must be understood on its own.

I also see plenty of memes on Facebook saying that since Australia passed "reasonable gun control", meaning they more or less banned civilian gun ownership in most circumstances, they haven't had a mass shooting.

For example, the New York Times, same people who repeat Reddit when saying we have a mass shooting a day, claimed that Australia ended mass killings. In fact, in order to have Australia meet that criteria, the New York Times doesn't use the "GunsAreCool" definition of a mass shooting and instead creates their own:

The oft-cited statistic in Australia is a simple one: There have been no mass killings — defined by experts there as a gunman killing five or more people besides himself — since the nation significantly tightened its gun control laws almost 20 years ago.

 Well shit, that's a tighter threshold than the FBI or Mother Jones used. By that standard we would have had much less "mass killings" in the US than even those claimed by Mother Jones, and thousands less than claimed by... the New York Times.

In Australia following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, Australia passed strict restrictions on civilian gun ownership. Australia's former Prime Minister has said:

"We will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns. I don't think people should have guns unless they're police or in the military or in the security industry. There is no earthly reason for people to have weapons. Ordinary citizens should not have weapons. We do not want the American disease brought into Australia."

When you see people supporting the Australian method, this is what they're saying. Ordinary citizens should not be arms, and guns will be restricted by any means necessary because the people pushing for gun laws hate guns. If your position is that we should have some new laws but still have citizen "weapon" ownership, realize that when you join with people pushing for Australian gun control and looking at Australia as a model.

If you're a gun owner trying to find a middle ground, realize you're working with people who hate that you as a civilian are able to own any firearm and every new law they get passed is towards the ultimate goal of ending that.

 I digress.

Following those restrictions was the Monash University shooting in 2002.

The Monash University shooting refers to a school shooting in which a student shot his classmates and teacher, killing two and injuring five.

By the GunsAreCool standard, a mass shooting. 7 people were shot.

In 2011 there was the Hectorville Siege.

It began after a 39-year-old resident of the suburb, later identified as Donato Anthony Corbo, entered his neighbours' property and shot four people, killing three and severly wounding one. An eight-hour stand-off with police followed, during which time he shot and wounded two officers.

By the GunsAreCool standard, a mass shooting. 6 people were shot.

In 2014, the Hunt Family murders.

Murder-suicide shooting spree by Geoff Hunt who killed his wife and three children before turning the gun on himself

Five fatalities, four family members and a suicide by the killer; a mass shooting by GunsAreCool **and** FBI standards. But not by the much tighter New York Times standard intended to make Australia look perfect, which would exclude the perpetrator.
 
Under the new federal definition which was ordered by Obama and lowers the number required for the FBI to declare something a mass killing from four to three, Australia has another. The 2014 Wedderburn shooting:

A shooting murder of a neighbour family (Greg Holmes, 48, his mother Mary Lockhart, 75, and her husband Peter Lockhart, 78) by Ian Francis Jamieson, 63.

On top of these four mass shootings, there have also been 171 deaths in mass arson attacks, there was a mass stabbing that killed 8, and a mass blunt instrument killing that killed 5. This shows that mass murderers will find other methods.

There's a graph by GunPolicy.org an anti-gun site, showing the rate of firearms deaths in Australia falling over time.

If that data line looks familiar, there's a reason. Here's the rate of homicide gun deaths for the US for roughly the same time.

In both countries, murders have been consistently falling, at roughly the same rate and over the same period of time. Since we have drastically different gun laws, maybe the gun laws aren't the factor.

Regardless, here's my main point. If anti-gun activists want to use their wildly inflated "a mass shooting a day!" bogus statistic, they cannot then claim that Australia hasn't had any mass shootings since they passed "reasonable gun control".
 
And these definitions are important, as discussed by USA Today:

Yet marking the death toll of mass killings in America is anything but simple. It's hampered by the FBI's voluntary reporting system that gets it right a little more than half the time, and by advocacy groups who may count only incidents that support their cause, ignoring killings that don't involve a gun or did not get heavy media coverage.

Concentrating on just one type of mass killing — or only on those that get a lot of attention — may be worse than just using the FBI data, because it can skew public understanding and lead to ineffective policies, says Grant Duwe, a senior researcher with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who has written a book on mass killings based on a data set he built covering the 1900s.

USA Today also mentions that the FBI is releasing the raw data for easier review but there's a caution against misuse:

Even with better data, special interest groups or unscrupulous academics can manipulate the numbers, just as with any other data set.

"If you have a cherry-picked list of cases, it's basically garbage in, garbage out," Duwe said. "And it does have important implications to additional research we do in terms of public policy."

Careful and scrupulous review of the data by USA Today provided interesting results:

USA TODAY's data debunks common beliefs. For example, it shows that the number of mass killings has not increased in recent years; most occur among family members; and handguns, not assault weapons, are most commonly used.

Honesty and academic rigor is important. It's especially important if your goal is to enact effective public policy and to negotiate in good faith with both sides of a political issue. But they are much less important if your goal is to simply repeat phony statistics that make you feel good and that you and your friends think illustrate the bloody handed evil and greed of the "gun lobby". This can feel satisfying in the short run, it may drive Likes and Shares and Pageviews, but it doesn't do anything about violence and makes genuinely effective policy changes much harder to attain.

There's a reason why people with an agenda, and the New York Times is leading the charge on that, want to use a different definition of mass shooting for Australia than they use for the US. It's important to make it look like new gun laws work. So Australia must have a perfect record. These people with an agenda are selling a promise of safety and security. "If we enact Australia's gun laws it will end mass killings in America." But nothing is certain. And the reason they use a different number for the US is so that they can inflate the severity. Four mass shootings a year would be bad enough. But it doesn't generate enough of an unreasoning panic, so they have to change the definitions to make it look like there's a Newton or Columbine every day.

The lesson of Australia is that you don't end gun violence or mass killings just by passing a law. There's not a magic legal wand you can wave to end violence. And if somebody is offering you one, they're lying to you. Be very careful before you repeat anything they say.

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's not NRA lobbying blocking new anti-gun laws - it's grassroots voters and gun owners

Recently Obama again attacked the NRA for no new laws being passed in the wake of shootings where the shooters had no previous red flags and had passed background checks and had used handguns. It's the NRA's fault that these tragedies couldn't be exploited to expand background checks to isolated private sales and an "assault weapons ban" on semiautomatic sporting rifles.

What this ignores is that the NRA doesn't have that much money. What it has is the support of a very large section of the voters. Many gun owners aren't members of the NRA. I'm not. Many more members got their membership because it's packaged free with most new gun sales. But we're voters who care about much the same things that the NRA cares about.

We're also not lying about poll numbers. There was a poll that claimed 90% of Americans "support background checks", so how was it possible that the Manchin-Toomey bill could have failed? Well, 90% of Americans do support some background checks. Probably most background checks. I have no problem with a background check for buying a gun from a dealer or from an FFL. But it's impossible to have what are called "universal background checks", the expansion of background checks to private intrastate transfers, without a gun registry. As I've pointed out before. And that's why Manchin-Toomey failed. Gun owners knew about this problem with the bill, and called their Senators and their Representatives. That's also why support for "background checks" fell so rapidly.

But Obama and other politicians keep pushing the "90%" line, again and again and again. Obama said after Manchin-Toomey failed that "The American people are trying to figure out -- how can something that has 90 percent support not happen?" It's an easy question to answer. He's wrong. The poll is wrong. There wasn't 90% support for the bill.

This is backed up by what one of the bill's supporters said after the bill failed, "When 90 percent of the people want something, and the senator votes against them, the next election, we're going to take care of those senators, because they're not representing the people."

And yet, those Senators weren't replaced. The vote was in 2013. In the 2014 elections, the Republicans held all of their Senate seats and gained 9 Democrat seats to regain control of the Senate for the first time since the Bush Administration. Clearly 90% of the country had spoken. Those Senators weren't "taken care of", because they were representing the voters.

Politicians, pundits, talk show hosts, comedians, and rank and file democrats attack "The NRA", claiming that its lobbying and money prevents Congress from "making progress" on banning guns. But as a lobby, the NRA is a fricking joke in terms of DC money.

Getting past the obvious dripping bias of the OpenSecrets description, the numbers speak for themselves.

Top Contributors, 2013-2014
Contributor Amount
National Rifle Assn  $952,252
Safari Club International  $694,640
Gun Owners of America  $270,157
National Assn for Gun Rights  $175,650
National Shooting Sports Foundation  $169,250
Ohio Gun Collectors Assn  $35,500
Dallas Safari Club  $9,250

About $2.3 million. Compare that to the Environment sector, where the top contributor alone put in $4.3 million in the same time frame. Look at the Communications sector, Comcast lobbyists alone have put in $3.93 million. In fact, at $2.259 million, lobbying from *Microsoft alone* comes close to equaling *the entirety of lobbying done by the NRA*. In the energy sector, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association put in as much as the entire firearms lobbying sector.

Gun industry's *monetary* influence on politics is negligible. But the truth, and the thing that drives anti-gunners into a furious and impotent rage, is the fact that it's individual voters by the millions who drive gun policy. It's phone calls and emails and letters to politicians, it's election time volunteering and voting. And gun owners do it better than gun opponents. And they hate us for it. Read this angry anti-gun voter piece from Mother Jones, where they complain that they can't even win after using Bloomberg money to buy elections.

Money alone does not equal political power. Supporters of the background check bill and new gun control laws have lots of money. Bloomberg alone has spent tens of millions of dollars through Mayors Against Illegal Guns and his self-funded super-PAC, Independence USA, to counter the influence of the gun lobby. He ousted NRA-backed congressional candidates in the 2012 elections and again this year in Illinois, where he spent more than $2 million to defeat Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat who'd previously received an A rating from the NRA, in the special primary to replace disgraced ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Bloomberg declared that his money was a warning sign for pro-gun lawmakers: Shill for the NRA and I'll drop big money to bounce you out of office. That threat wasn't enough to persuade a handful of Democratic senators from red states and Republican senators who were once thought of as possible votes for gun safety measures.
Shilling against gun ownership is fine. SuperPACs are fine. Using big money to throw elections is fine, so long as you further the political goals of the anti-gun movement*.

The double standard for anyone concerned about money in politics is stunning and repulsive.

They also found that their own lobbying group couldn't get it done.

Obama's political machine could not overcome the NRA's might. A database of tens of millions of voters and the best political technology on the planet do not equal political power. The background check fight was the first real test for Organizing for Action, the advocacy group spawned from of the president's massively successful reelection campaign. Former Obama aides created OFA to mobilize Obama supporters during legislative fights like this one, hoping to use all the names, data, and other finely honed technologies during the 2012 campaign to create the outside pressure needed to push contentious pieces of legislation across the finish line.  
OFA executive director Jon Carson wrote that more than 22,000 people called the Senate on Wednesday demanding passage of Manchin-Toomey. But there were no reports of crippled phone lines or a massive surge of public interest similar to what was seen during the legislative debates over health care reform or financial reform. OFA devoted time and money organizing its members, but it wasn't enough.
Note the author's crowing over the database of "tens of millions of voters" as a positive, and how that database only translated to 22,000 calls in support of more gun control laws. This is key because of later in the article when they go after the NRA:

Here is what political power looks like: It's the combination of money, intensity, and influence when it matters most. The NRA boasts all of the above. LaPierre and his NRA colleagues around the country know how to whip their members—4.5 million of them by the NRA's count—into a frenzy. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 1 in 5 gun owners had called, written, or emailed a public official; only 1 in 10 people without a gun in the household had done the same. In the same poll, 1 in 5 gun owners said they'd given money to a group involved in the gun control debate; just 4 percent of people without a gun in the home previously gave money.

It's bad that the NRA boasts 4.5 million members because the author disagrees with them. It's good that OFA has a database of tens of millions of members because the author agrees with them. But there are an estimated 80-100 million gun owners in the United States. That means "1 in 5 gun owners" translates to roughly 16 to 20 million voters. That's 4 times the number of members of the NRA.

To the anti-gun movement* it's good that a billionaire throws elections that further their goals, and it's bad that millions of voters donate to politicians in opposition to that one billionaire. The thing that so frustrates the luminaries of the anti-gun movement* is the simple and unavoidable fact that their new laws fail because of democracy. There are no new laws because the democratic process is working, because millions of voters speaking out to their elected officials and donating to their political causes does indeed have more swing than few lobbying groups and wealthy individuals.

Obama wants to paint these millions of voters as being uniformly irrational conspiracy theorists. Which, by the way, is a fucking fantastic way to win people over.

“There is a very passionate group of gun owners who see a conspiracy around any new legislation and have an absolute belief that the Second Amendment means nothing would in any way constrain them from having whatever weapon on the market and modest additional steps are the camel’s nose under the tent to take away their guns,” 
The Second Amendment has already been extensively restricted. Gun ownership now is to the furthest limit of what the Supreme Court has ruled constitutional. And gun owners aren't stupid, we can look at Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and California, and see that these news laws are always the camel's nose. In the same interview Obama praises the anti-gun laws of Australia, which are incredibly restrictive and which have not caused their murder rate to drop significantly.


There is no pressing need for these laws, and the proposed new laws wouldn't have done anything about the recent mass shootings where background checks have been passed, and handguns used instead of "assault rifles". Which means that obviously they wouldn't stop mass shootings, and so the camel's nose would keep going under that tent and result in more laws being passed, and more, and more. As has happened in those previously mentioned fiercely anti-gun states. Anti-gun activists know this, just as surely as gun owners know this. Gun owners aren't** conspiracy wackos, we just aren't idiots either. Ask anyone pushing new gun laws, whether they're a random liberal on the internet, or a politician, or a comedian, anyone who says "nobody is coming for your guns!", if there is a gun law they would oppose. Ask them if there is a single point past which they would say "That's enough new gun laws, I oppose any further laws."

I have. And the answer is always the same. They want gun ownership to end.

Gun owners aren't idiots. We also aren't all conservatives, we aren't all straight, we aren't all white, we aren't all men. We're not easily put into the boxes that they try to put us into. And this, too, infuriates the anti-gun movement. The backlash against Colion Noir, an African-American gun owner, when he became a paid commentator for the NRA was virulent and patronizing. He can't like gun ownership for its own sake, he must be a "shill". Everyone getting paid to post anti-gun articles, they aren't shills, they're just honestly expressing their opinions.

This is why there's no movement on new anti-gun laws. We don't like having our opinions invalidated, we don't like being insulted, we don't like having lies endlessly passed off as truth, and we don't like when a big money SuperPAC with a handful of wealthy donors tries to force their preferred laws to pass. And it's only in the field of gun ownership that the left accepts these things from authoritarian politicians.

This needs to stop, because as the Republican Party self destructs, this is the only thing that could cause the Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, not just in 2016 but in 2018 and possibly even 2020. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, even Bernie Sanders are attacking firearms ownership. Democrats have, or had, a significant advantage in the electoral college. Few things could shake that advantage, but this is one of them. It's not because gun owners are "single issue" voters, but because many of us don't support being lied to and lied about. If you have Hillary Clinton running on an anti-gun platform (she should talk to her husband about how the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban cost the Democrats control of the House) against a Republican, she loses Ohio, Florida, Virginia, probably Pennsylvania, and almost certainly the Presidency.

Anti-gun publication Mother Jones describes the failures and fallout of when the Democrats forced the 1994 AWB through Congress:
As Obama assumes this tough mission, he can look back to the 1994 episode for guidance on how to win the politics and how to avoid screwing up the policy. Clinton savvily enlisted the law enforcement community and made good use of his Cabinet. Obama could emulate both moves. (He has instructed members of his Cabinet to help craft recommendations for Biden's task force.) Yet to make sure his efforts yield real-world results, the president will have to be mindful of policy particulars and not repeat the errors of 1994. "If you're going to be effective, you have to have a broad-based ban on weapons and on ammo," the former Justice Department official says.
...
One conclusion that can be drawn from the 1994 battle was that the weak ban that emerged might not have been worth the cost. And there was a stiff cost. When Congress passed the assault weapons ban, the NRA vowed vengeance. Months later, the Republicans, backed by the still-outraged NRA, romped the Democrats in the midterm election, gaining 54 seats and control of the House for the first time in 40 years. Clinton, for one, believed that voting for the the assault weapons ban had cost about 20 House Democrats their seats—meaning that the measure had caused a political backlash that led to a GOP the majority in the House. If Obama and others confront the NRA, they had better expect—and prepare for—a battle that will reach a crescendo on November 4, 2014.
Obama, unconcerned with leaving a winning legacy, has said that the Democrats should go ahead and become single issue voters and lose a few elections in order to fight gun ownership.
“You have to make sure that anybody who you are voting for is on the right side of this issue. And if they’re not, even if they’re great on other stuff, for a couple of election cycles you’ve got to vote against them, and let them know precisely why you’re voting against them. And you just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter because that’s what is happening on the other side."
Imagine the backlash if you or I said the same thing about any other issue, like the Obama Administration's wiretapping, or its drone airstrikes against civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. He's willing to let the Republicans win, in spite of things like gay rights and reproductive rights, if gun ownership is fought.

The question is, will left wing gun owners and voters tolerate this? Will the voters let the Democratic Party leaders take the party down with them in their pursuit for more authoritarian anti-gun laws?

*Can't even say the "anti-gun left", because I am certainly much further left than former Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg.
** well not all of us, not even a majority of us, but that minority is really really loud and it's politically expedient to lump the rest of us in with them

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tear the idols down - dig up the monsters and piss on their bones

A now-former friend posted some real ignorant shit. 

Now, everybody has some level of racism and prejudice in them. It's a natural part of human evolution and influenced by our environments and the media and our culture. What separates a racist from everyone else is whether they recognize their own prejudice as a negative and try to work past it, or whether they refuse to see it at all except in other groups (soft racists), or whether they see it as a positive and as the natural order (hard racists).

But as the Bible says, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And soft racists turn into hard racists pretty quickly when challenged. Really, that's one of the big differences between an innocent non-racist person and an actual racist, soft or hard R. Anybody can say something stupid and ignorant. A non-racist, when it gets challenged, will realize what they said and apologize for it being taken the wrong way. A racist will almost always double down. And like pulling out an infected hair, what looks normal to start often turns out pus covered and infected the more you pull.

When challenged, they don't stop digging.

Here's the article that infuriated the former friend:

Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general’s grave — themselves!

A group of anti-Confederate protesters aren’t happy enough with the declaration by the city of Memphis that it wants to dig up and move the remains of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.
They want it done now.
A group surrounded a shovel Wednesday and ceremoniously removed a chunk of grass and soil.
“We are going to bring the back hoe, the tractors and the men with the equipment to raise Bedford Forrest from the soil of Memphis,” Isaac Richmond with the “Commission on Religion and Racism” declared to awaiting TV cameras, CBS 3 reported.
Richmond ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year.
He believes if the general who died 137 years ago can just be eliminated, that will really help things.
“If he’s gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone,” he said, shovel in hand. “We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up.”
Others see their actions as little more than destruction of property.
“They can protest all they want. Just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean they are right. Digging up the park is just pure and simple vandalism,” says Lee Millar, spokesman Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“We really don’t want to make this a confrontation. We just want to say hey, we want to get on with it!” Richmond insists.
In early July, the Memphis city council voted unanimously to dig up Forrest’s body and move it somewhere else.
“It is no longer politically correct to glorify someone who was a slave trader, someone who was a racist on public property,” City Council member Myron Lowery said at the time.
Because of the bureaucracy, Forrest’s remains and the statue dedicated to him are regulated by different agencies.
According to the city council’s attorney, Chancery Court would also have to sign off on the removal of the remains and the family of Forrest would be involved in the decision as well.
The removal of the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a separate issue.
The removal of the statue has been proposed as an ordinance before the council which will have to be read before the council three times before it can be approved.
From there it will be presented to the Tennessee Historic Commission but there is no timeline for when they will make a decision.
That’s all taking too long for the activists. They want it done now.
So, they used a shovel, and ceremonially removed a chunk of grass and soil. Keep that in mind as you read what is to follow.

Keep in mind that the city council has already voted unanimously to dig up Nathan Bedford Forrest's body and bury it elsewhere, off public property.

Keep this in mind, and it is very important, Nathan Bedford Forrest wasn't just a slave trader. He wasn't just a racist. He wasn't just a Confederate general.

He was also the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. He was its leader during the First Klan, at the height of their lawless post-war violence, when they would kill blacks and white northerners, burn down houses, lynch people, with the specific intent of preventing people from voting Republican, and making sure free blacks weren't too free or too uppity.

Keep in mind that this here was the top comment on that article, with nearly 600 people supporting it, and realize that this mindset mirrors that of the people engaged below:
Our country is out of control. This is what happens when you allow blacks to go unchecked. Civil unrest is coming and it's going to get ugly. 
It's not the first threat of a race war from a white supremacist that I've seen, it won't be the last, and it's the exact same flavor of poison that motivated Dylan Roof. The country is out of control, because a bunch of black people (obviously not the word the poster would have liked to use) dug up a scoop of dirt. When you allow blacks to go unchecked, they disrespect the grave of the founder of the Klan. Because of the pushback that monuments to institutional racism and racial violence are receiving today, violent domestic terrorism is coming. It is a reactionary response to people being fed up with seeing monsters on pedestals by people who agree with those monsters.

Keep all that in mind as you read the following exchange of comments from facebook. Despite being attacked by the original poster for using a screen name on facebook (a typical ad hominem and part of why I use a screen name on facebook, anybody who attacks me for it has run out of anything of value to say), I will only use initials for everyone involved.

============================================
Start of Facebook Comments (beginning with initial post)
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A.E.: Im probably going to lose some friends for this post. However, I'm tired of this ignorant racist crap getting spewed every where you go these days.

This is vandalism. Not only that, it's jumping the race - card bandwagon. While you're at it dig up Lee and Jefferson Davis. But if you really want to go for the slave - owning gusto, dig up Washington, Jefferson, and over half of our founding fathers.

Black America's finger pointing, ignorant racism is on my nerves. LEARN HISTORY. READ A FLIPPIN BOOK. African slavery started in Africa!!!! Stop blaming whites for being capitalists in a time far gone by - Africans SOLD Africans into slavery.

You do nothing but weaken your argument with this kind of behavior. Does this apply to all black people? Heavens no, but the ones that it does apply to are perpetuating a stereotype. I'd mention the word, but then I'd be called a racist too.

I wont apologize for this post, I won't apologize for the color of my skin, and I won't stand by and watch this nation's history be wiped out because someone with a stick up their butt thinks it's OK to disturb the dead over a hundred years after the fact.

If your only argument for desecrating the dead is because of something that MIGHT have happened to a DISTANT family member of yours over TEN GENERATIONS back, go the fuck elsewhere.

And before you get on your high horse, remember that the Native Americans have suffered, and continue to suffer to this day, FAR WORSE, than many black slaves ever did.

Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general’s grave themselves

Me: Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first Grand Dragon of the KKK. That's some dead there that is plenty worthy of desecration and disturbance. Plenty of his victims didn't get the luxury of a nice quiet burial. Some history doesn't deserve the honor it gets.

A.E.: Regardless of the man's personal history, defacing public property AFTER the city has decided to do something about it but BEFORE they got around to it IS VANDALISM.

Futhermore, the willful lack of knowledge surrounding the Civil War, and how slavery came to be in this nation, is fueling this rediculousness.

T.G.: No, don't blame whites for starting slavery, blame them for continuing it 50 years after even their mother country abolished it. So, blame whites. It's always their fault, and never yours! You are the special children of an underprivileged majority who can't possibly know what it's like to be other.

Me: More education about the depth of slavery's depravity in this nation wouldn't leave whites or our nation's historical idols looking good at all.

A.E.: Human trafficking has gone on since the beginning on human kind. It won't end anytime soon, and whipping up a fervor over slavery in America is just a convenient mechanism to keep the rest of us from looking at the real problems in modern society.

T.M.: Defacing of any grave despite whomever lay there makes you simply a giant piece of worthless dog shit.

Me: Defacing something that's going to be removed anyway isn't vandalism, it's initiative.

A.E.: If it's public property, it sure as hell is vandalism. You know that.

Me: We defaced plenty of graves in the process of building America, there's a reason there aren't many mounds around anymore.

A.E.: No, WE did not. The actions of OTHER PEOPLE did that Jack. That's the line that most people seem to forget.

I refuse to be held responsible for something I did not do because of the color of my skin. I wouldn't do it to others, and I won't tolerate being expected to apologize for the PAST.

Me: Maybe I don't have sufficient love and appreciation for the Klan and their supporters but defacing the grave of the founding father of those lynching terrorists strikes me as a public service. I must not be loyal enough to the white race, or I'm just proud of my heritage and history as a descendant of abolitionists and Union soldiers.

Me: Well, they're digging up the graves of one of those other people. By fighting that you're taking responsibility for his actions. Honoring the demons of our past puts us on the line for their sins.

A.E.: Good point. Perhaps I'm proud of my Southern heritage - which also includes abolishinists. I don't appreciate the baiting.

Me: Baiting is saying "I'll probably lose friends" for saying some racist ignorant shit. Because you probably will, and you might not be real happy with the quality of the ones you have left.

A.E.Ok, well, if you can't respect someone else's point of view, that happens to differ from yours, it's your choice.


A.E.: You do realize, that your video post goes both ways, right?

Me: There are plenty of views I don't respect. It's a list that includes people who think gays are destroying America, climate change is a liberal myth, women should stay in the kitchen, racists, and ISIS.

My grandfather believed that interracial marriage was wrong, because "A fish can fall in love with a bird but where can they live?" I acknowledge that he had that belief but I don't have a lot of respect for it.

When Beth's racist inlaw died years back, a guy who was a member of the Klan over in West Jefferson, her grandmother burned all his Klan gear. All the robes, the books, the swords. And that's what the Klan deserves. They're domestic terrorists. Fuck them and fuck their graves.

T.G.: You don't piss on a grave.

Me: I'd sure as hell like to piss on his.

T.G.: Go buy three black families dinner, then, if you want to be so infuriated.

A.E. (to me): Why? Because of the evil he spread that has nothing to do with you? Seems illogical. Let sleeping dogs rest.

J.B.: They shouldn't be moving this guy at all. The federal government years ago pardoned all of these soldiers. They are considered American veterans no longer confederate. 

Plus it's desecration no matter who does it. The guy has been dead way to long to be a bother now. Ignorant fucks can't bother to learn history and want some one to blame for their shitty life choices their families have been making for a few generations now.

Me: Here's an education into the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his post Civil War terrorist activities as the Grand Dragon of the KKK:
To that end they worked to curb the education, economic advancement, voting rights, and right to keep and bear arms of blacks.[48] The Klan soon spread into nearly every southern state, launching a "reign of terror against Republican leaders both black and white. Those political leaders assassinated during the campaign included Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds, three members of the South Carolina legislature, and several men who served in constitutional conventions."[49]
The Klan attacked black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen's Bureau workers. When they killed black political leaders, they also took heads of families, along with the leaders of churches and community groups, because these people had many roles in society. Agents of the Freedmen's Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks. "Armed guerrilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites." Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. "Generally, it can be reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault."[53]
Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. More than 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant's opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.[54]
Dig him up and feed the bones to the dogs.

A.E.: This post isn't about the Klan. Please stop trying to make it so.

Me: It's about learning history. It's about education. The Klan is the history, particularly as regards its first Grand Dragon. There's a pretty big reason why black protesters would go so far as to desecrate a grave, plus something has to be consecrated for it to be desecrated in the first place, and that man's grave isn't anything sacred. That's the history. If you don't want to wipe out the nation's history, you can't deny the role the Klan had in it.

A.E.: Again, this post has NOTHING to do with the Klan. I'm not denying the history of the Klan, but I'm certainly denying the right of any group of people to vandalize a historical monument/grave site because they don't like it for one reason or another. It's thuggery.

J.B.: Your right, you can't erase history, but if this was so important to them, why now? Why not a year ago, or a decade? It's important now because idiots are running amok and don't know anything about what their taking on.

A.E.: That is a great point John, and for that matter, why didn't this happen during the Civil Rights movement?

Probably because twits on the Internet hadn't been invented yet, therefore they couldn't network together to uselessly troll the masses.

Me: "That is a great point John, and for that matter, why didn't this happen during the Civil Rights movement?"

Probably because the local governments were still heavily controlled by white supremacists and would have lynched them. Put a rope around their necks, pulled them up by that rope, and left them to strangle and die. And any uppity northerners who came back to help out would wind up shot.

The things that actually happened during the Civil Rights movement, in other words.

J.B.: So what about during the last decade? These are ignorant idiots doing the hip thing. Not the educated thing.

Me: Or maybe now they finally have enough public support to do what should have been done day one.

We should have buried him and the rest of them in a 19th century version of the Oise-Aisne American Cemetary's Plot E, where the military's dishonorable dead are buried.

A.E.: The Civil Rights comment was rhetorical, and I don't get how you could have misconstrued that. Of course it wouldn't have happened then!

The point is, all of this is getting stirred up well after the fact, and won't do anybody any good.

D.M: media hype!! a distraction, from the real issues !!! will get worse closer to election time.

A.E.: Are you saying thay all Confederate servicemen were terrorists?

Me: The first step to healing is admitting you have a problem. It's true for individuals and its true for the country. When we stop honoring the dishonorable, we start fixing the problems.

J.B.: They aren't dishonorable. They've been pardoned by our federal government. They are recognized as regular vets now.

A.E.: I'm asking Jack

Me: "Are you saying thay all Confederate servicemen were terrorists?"

Just the ones that became Klansmen. Any Union servicemen who became Klansmen were also terrorists. Anybody who didn't serve in either military who became a Klansman was a terrorist. Anybody who was a member of the Second Klan or the Third Klan was a terrorist. Anybody in the Klan now is a terrorist. Categorically so, as the Klan is a terrorist organization and it has and continues to carry out terrorist activities.

A.E.: If you want to change the now, you've got to let go of the past. That's the only way progress ever happens. And by that, I mean leave the dead to their graves, and the monuments to their weathering. I doubt Bedford Forrest got many visitors anyway - these people pulled this so they could get their 15 minutes. Racism exists and is alive in all parts of the world, and general douchebaggery is not the way to get your point across.

I'm not worthy to speak for the man, but I can imagine Dr. King is looking down and shaking his head at the shameful way people are acting these days.

You can't vent a frustration without being labeled, on any side. How the hell can we progress if finger pointing does not end?

Me: "If you want to change the now, you've got to let go of the past."

So scrap the monuments. Or you're not letting go of the past.

Oh good, the "Dr King would be ashamed of this", that's a Bingo on my white upper middle class soft racism bingo card. I'm not worthy to speak for MLK either, fortunately he had plenty to say himself.

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
MLK, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

J.B.: The problem is internal, the black community needs to fix itself. If they can't fix themselves or want too, no one else can do it for them. Iraq is a prime example of that.

Me: The problem is internal, the white community needs to fix itself. If they can't fix themselves or want too, no one else can do it for them. Iraq is a prime example of that.

A.E.: You used the word 'terrorist' 6 times in thay post.

I don't agree with those skinhead fucks either but that's an aweful lot of terrorism thay you're touting there - and it pits Americans against Americans.

Believe and live however you want so long as you do not harm other poeple.

I don't use the word terrorist because it's definition is too loose, and far too inflamitory.

J.B.: Except the white community isn't known for high crime rates, murder rates, drug rates, prison population, or welfare abusers in anywhere near the numbers the black community is. Your trying to twist words and change topics, but all your doing is revealing the fact that you have no ground for an argument.

Me: If you don't think the Klan are literal terrorists then you're either blind to what terrorism is, or you think only brown people can be terrorists, or you support them and you're afraid to be honest because you don't want to be called a racist.

The Klan are terrorists. Period. Full fucking stop. If what they did isn't terrorism, terrorism doesn't fucking exist. It fits every single legal and dictionary definition of terrorism, and the fact that you're more bothered by the petty vandalism of a terrorist's grave than you are by the terrorists themselves says a lot. None of it good.


The Klan believed and lived how they want, and they harmed a whole fucking lot of people.

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End of Facebook Comments
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It's worth noting that terrorism as a crime in the US has a solid legal definition.
(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

If you don't think the actions of the KKK, especially Nathan Bedford Forrest's First KKK, fit every single one of those requirements, you can get the fuck out of my face. 

So in that post and subsequent replies, we've got the following:
Not only that, it's jumping the race - card bandwagon.
1. People who are angry about the literal founder of the KKK are "playing the race card"
African slavery started in Africa!!!! Stop blaming whites for being capitalists in a time far gone by - Africans SOLD Africans into slavery.
2. Don't blame white people for the triangle slave trade and American chattel slavery, blame Africans!
Black America's finger pointing, ignorant racism is on my nerves.
3. Blacks are the real racists! Not the slaveowners. Not the Klan. Not the architects of institutional racism. Those darn dirty blacks! Because racism is a crime, and crime is for niggers!
LEARN HISTORY. READ A FLIPPIN BOOK.
4. Cries of "Learn history!" said while ignoring unpleasant history.
Does this apply to all black people? Heavens no, but the ones that it does apply to are perpetuating a stereotype. I'd mention the word, but then I'd be called a racist too.
5. The people (again, angry about the literal founder of the KKK) aren't helping they're cause and they're acting like niggers. I'd call them niggers but I'm not allowed to say it or people would call me a racist, because I will have shown myself to be really fucking racist. So instead I'm going to say nigger in as roundabout way as possible, while blowing this dog whistle here as hard as I can. It's okay, my friends know what I mean.
I wont apologize for this post, I won't apologize for the color of my skin
6. I won't apologize for being white! Nobody is asking me to apologize for being white, but a failure to honor the memory of the literal founder of the KKK is, to me, asking me to apologize for being white. Because I don't see people as individuals, I see my group as one cohesive group and ever other group as a cohesive group, and a demand for accountability from any part of my tribe is an attack on me. I'm not racist though.
And before you get on your high horse, remember that the Native Americans have suffered, and continue to suffer to this day, FAR WORSE, than many black slaves ever did.
7. Native Americans had it worse than black slaves, so stop complaining, black people! Worse than many black slaves anyway. Some black slaves had it really bad. We're going to ignore them because it weakens my argument.
This post isn't about the Klan. Please stop trying to make it so.
and
Again, this post has NOTHING to do with the Klan. 
8. This guy is the literal founder of the KKK but stop trying to make this about the KKK because that really highlights the racism of my argument and really weakens it.
The federal government years ago pardoned all of these soldiers. They are considered American veterans no longer confederate. 
9. He's a Confederate veteran! He may also be the founder of the KKK, but I'm going to ignore that and try to muddy the water.
I'm not worthy to speak for the man, but I can imagine Dr. King is looking down and shaking his head at the shameful way people are acting these days.
10. MLK would be really sad that people are angry there's a monument to the founder of the KKK, and I'm qualified to say that because I'm a suburban white woman. In the 1960s I would have clucked about his lawbreaking but now he's been sufficiently lionized that I'm instead going to use him as a cudgel to try and herd the uppity negroes back into line.
If you want to change the now, you've got to let go of the past. That's the only way progress ever happens. And by that, I mean leave the dead to their graves, and the monuments to their weathering.
11. We should let go of the past, just not the monuments to past terrorists. We should stop thinking about the problems of the past, and instead reset the clock to today. Ignore everything that came before! Keep up all monuments because they're monuments. This is a logically consistent position to take because reasons. Listen up darkies, forget all the bad stuff, and get your lives on the right track right now.
I'm not denying the history of the Klan, but I'm certainly denying the right of any group of people to vandalize a historical monument/grave site because they don't like it for one reason or another. It's thuggery.
12. I know I can't say nigger without giving the game away, so I'm going to use thug instead.
Except the white community isn't known for high crime rates, murder rates, drug rates, prison population, or welfare abusers in anywhere near the numbers the black community is. 
13. Blacks are the cause of all our societal problems. More crime! More prison time! More welfare abusers! Note he doesn't say welfare users, because more whites than blacks use welfare. No, he says abusers, because blacks using welfare don't deserve it, any whites on government benefits deserve it.
How the hell can we progress if finger pointing does not end?
14. Sure, I just said that blacks are racists playing the race card and that they're thugs and the other word I can't say but you know what I mean, but I'm not the one pointing fingers and I'm not the one holding up progress. It's the blacks! Fuck those guys!
I don't agree with those skinhead fucks either but that's an aweful lot of terrorism thay you're touting there - and it pits Americans against Americans.
Believe and live however you want so long as you do not harm other poeple.
I don't use the word terrorist because it's definition is too loose, and far too inflamitory.
15. Calling the KKK terrorists pits Americans against Americans! Sure, the KKK also pits Americans against Americans, but I'm going to ignore that because secretly I'm supporting the White Team. Calling the KKK terrorists is inflammatory! It's insulting to Klansmen! How dare you!

And that was pretty much the last straw for me. Identifying the Klan as domestic terrorists shouldn't be a difficult thing. If somebody is having a hard time doing that, then they're a toxic person. And it's time to cut out the cancer.

Incidentally, I expect most people playing "Racist Apologetics" Bingo will have either won by now, and possibly have completely filled their card. Same for anybody playing "Logical Fallacy" bingo. Congrats! You win an ever diminishing faith in humanity and the fundamental goodness of your fellow man. Claim it at the front desk.

Going back to Patton Oswalt. I acknowledge that there are devoted racists. I do not respect them. And as I do not respect them, I do not care one bit if they respect me. I do not care if they don't respect my beliefs, or that I have these beliefs. I do not care what they think about whether or not I should respect them. If there was any mutual respect going back and forth between me and racists, that would alarm me. If a racist considers me or my beliefs worthy of respect, then that'd be a warning flag to me that I need to start re-examining my beliefs.

The respect of evil isn't a good thing.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

On the sexuality of Bert and Ernie



On the sexuality of Bert and Ernie.

After the Supreme Court decision yesterday, a meme was produced saying Bert's out of excuses now. The reaction to this on imgur was mostly jocular, except with the usual complaints that you can't assign sexuality to the Sesame Street-specific Muppets.

Well, that's not quite true though. Now, *most* of the Muppets on SS represent children, so they really aren't going to have any developed sexuality. Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Prairie Dawn, and so on. But the adult Muppets (adult in maturity, not like XXX Adult) are different.

Kermit the Frog is the most obvious example. Crossing between Sesame Street and the regular Muppets, less so now than in the past, Kermit is distinctly heterosexual. In A Muppet Christmas Carol, he is shown married to Miss Piggy and they have children. But I don't know that he's ever shown with a spouse on Sesame Street, so it could be argued that he doesn't count.

However, he's far from the only example. The Bear Family, based off of the Bears from Goldilocks, features Curly Bear (an older sister), Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear who is the focus of their appearances, given the audience of Sesame Street. Clearly a depiction of both Muppet sexuality and its products.

Probably the best example is the highly recognizable Count von Count. He's had a string of girlfriends; the Countess in season 8, Countess Dahling von Dahling in season 12, and Countess von Backwards in season 28. They are females, vampires, and romantic interests for the Count.

But what about Bert and Ernie themselves? Do they show any signs of adulthood and sexuality? Well, they live alone, with each other and not with any parents. Additionally, Bert has been shown attracted to women. In season 1 he serenaded Connie Stevens. The (frankly disturbing and terrifying) song "I want to hold your ear" was performed by Bert and released on numerous albums, none of them more recently than the eighties, and it was a song from Bert to his theoretical then-girlfriend. So Bert is established as having sexuality.

From that, and given the long nature of their relationship together, it's not a huge leap to assume that they are a couple. Bert may be bisexual or may have evolved from straight to gay, Ernie seems like he'd be into whoever can stand him.

Now, of course on the show you're not going to see sexual behavior between them. It's a children's show. You didn't see Mama and Papa Bear making Curly Bear or Baby Bear. You didn't see Count von Count taking Countess von Backwards up to the attic with a blood bag drifter they picked up at the bus station and having weird kinky True Blood sex. You're not gonna see Bert bending Ernie over the bathtub. And that's fine.

I think it's much healthier for kids to see hey, here's two guys, two normal guys, just living together. Nobody mentions it, everybody just accepts it as normal. They're not marching in a Pride Parade, they're not going full camp with cock hammocks and feather boas, they're just normal people living their lives.

(Other examples include Snuffie's parents who divorced, and Elmo's parents)