La chute de l’angle, The Falling Angel, Marc Chagall, 1947
Good Day Sky Dancers!
Today could be the day the Supreme Court lets “artists” exercise free speech by refusing public service to GLBTQ clients seeking services like cake baking. You may ask yourself, didn’t they decide this already? Why is ‘Masterpiece Cake’ returning to the Supreme Court with the same argument? The answer is basically the Court is clearly in the heads of theocratic monsters, and they’ll get the decision they want instead of the one they got last time. Then, we can wonder where it will take us. Tailors, that refuse to make pantsuits for women? Portrait artists, that refuse disabled or disfigured subjects? Photographers that don’t want to take photos of religious ceremonies that may offend them?
Well, the answer is don’t hang a shingle on a door and offer public services. You can make that list of anti-social behaviors as long as you look for jobs in spaces where you feel safe. Seems simple, right? But this revisit of established precedent will likely go down the rabbit hole of autocracy and bigotry.
I'm not going to live tweet the Supreme Court (because… Twitter). But if you have time, you should tune into SCOTUS today because they've decided to pit LGBTQ rights against bigotry under the guise of free speech. And, like Twitter, they'll choose bigotry.
I don’t play piano at weddings, and I don’t go near churches anymore. It creeps me out and brings out a lot of bad memories. But then, I don’t have a shingle on my front door or place an ad on the internet offering my services for hire to the public. I basically go look for the gigs I want. My last big one on Bourbon Street was as the pianist and music director of a Drag Cabaret show. I suppose if I did this now, my life and the life of my compatriots would be in danger, and that’s a problem. I’ve had to protect the same folks as they read stories to children in the small library around the corner.
This is what the law has said for a long time. You can not offer separate accommodations or refuse to serve some part of the public because of your fee-fees, no matter what they’re based in. However, the christofascists on the court believe they have a right to dictate their religious bigotry and intolerance to us all because it’s all about them. It’s not about the Constitution. It’s not about precedent. It’s about them and what they want to do and not do. That’s a whole lot of toddler behavior right there. And it still boils down to privacy. The one established precedent that’s seriously endangered. They did it to women with the Roe decision, and now we’re going down the dark path again. They went to keep it all about them and their pet fetishes and identities.
Can an artist be compelled to create a website for an event she does not condone? That’s the question the Supreme Court has said it will take up on Monday, when it hears oral arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis. The answer would seem to be obviously “no.”
But that’s the wrong question. The right question is whether someone who chooses to open a business to the public should have the right to turn away gay customers simply because the service she would provide them is “expressive” or “artistic.” Should an architecture firm that believes Black families don’t deserve fancy homes be permitted to turn away Black clients because its work is “expressive”? Can a florist shop whose owner objects to Christianity refuse to serve Christians? The answer to these questions would seem to be, just as obviously, “no.”
So why is the first question the wrong one in this dispute? The case before the court was brought by 303 Creative, a business that says it wants to offer wedding website design services to the public, but doesn’t want to serve gay couples. Under Colorado’s “public accommodations law,” businesses that choose to serve the public at large cannot turn people away because of their race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics. 303 Creative claims that because its service is expressive and its owner objects to same-sex marriage, it can’t be required to obey Colorado’s law. Not to afford it an exemption, the company argues, compels it to speak against its will and violates its free speech rights.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because five years ago the Supreme Court considered a similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which a bakery asserted a free-expression right to turn away a gay couple that asked it to make a cake to celebrate their wedding. The court resolved that dispute on other grounds, so did not answer the question. Masterpiece Cakeshop’s lawyers are back before the court, making the same argument with a new client. (303 Creative has actually never made a wedding website for anyone, but it claims that it can’t even get started without a legal ruling that it can turn away gay couples.)
The Fallen Angel (L’Ange déchu) French artist Alexandre Cabanel,1847
I think that the last sentence is important. They’ve never actually offered their service. They are headed to the Supreme Court before proving their ability to provide the service to anyone. Why not go after couples in their local worship facility or similar churches if that’s how they feel? Why run to the Supreme Court?
Two features of the law make clear that Colorado’s law does not coerce artists to express a message with which they disagree.
First, no artist has to open a business to the public in the first place. Most writers, painters and other artists never do; they pick their subjects and leave it at that. The photographer Annie Leibovitz, for example, does not offer to take photographs of anyone who offers to pay her fee, but chooses her subjects. She is perfectly free to photograph only white people or only Buddhists.
But if Ms. Leibovitz were to open a portrait photography business that offered to take portraits on a first-come, first-served basis to the public at large, as many corporate photography studios do, she could not turn away subjects just because they were Black or Christian. Her photographic work would be just as expressive. But the choice to benefit from the public marketplace comes with the legal obligation to equally serve members of the public. And requiring businesses that offer expressive services in the public marketplace to follow the same rules as all other businesses does not violate the First Amendment.
Second, even businesses open to the public are free to define the content of what they sell. A Christmas store can sell only Christmas items without running afoul of public accommodations laws. It need not stock Hanukkah candles or Kwanzaa cards. But it cannot put a sign on its doors saying, “We don’t serve Jews” or “No Blacks allowed.”
303 Creative argues that it is not turning away same-sex couples because they are gay, but because it objects to the message that making a wedding website for them would convey. The company has, however, asked the court to declare its right to refuse to make any website for a same-sex couple’s wedding, even if its content is identical to one it would design for a straight couple. According to this line of argument, the company could refuse a gay couple even a site that merely announced the time and location of the wedding and recommended places to stay.
Richard Pousette-Dart, Yellow Amorphous, 1950
Will the Supreme Court sanctify the reinstatement of Jim Crow Laws?
In a statement, the FBI’s Charlotte, N.C., field office confirmed its involvement in the investigation and called the attacks on the substations “willful damage.”
The sheriff said the motive in the case was still unknown. Asked if there was any connection to a 7 p.m. LGBTQ+ drag show in the city of Southern Pines on Saturday, Fields said, “It is possible, yes.”
“Anything is possible,” he said. “But we haven’t been able to tie anything back to the drag show.”
The headliner and host at the Sunrise Theater event, Naomi Dix, said in an interview that the show went on in candlelight Saturday after power ceased at about 8:15 p.m.
She said she was unaware the outage might have had anything to do with the event until hearing news Saturday night that mentioned unconfirmed reports the outages may have been the result of an attempt to put the drag show in the dark.
“The show got a lot of heat from right-wing conservatives who did not want us there,” Dix said.
The Fayetteville Observer reported Friday that the event, titled “Downtown Divas,” was the subject of threats, criticism and unfounded allegations about the LGBTQ+ community and certain types of crime.
“This is nothing new to our community,” Dix said.
Organizers and the venue carried on with planning but changed the age limit from all ages to 18 and older to keep children away from any possible protests, the publication said.
This wasn’t the only attack for the weekend. The usual Right Wing Militias showed up with guns and cosplay costumes in Ohio to intimidate the performers and their audience.
Hate crimes in major U.S. cities rose moderately during the first half of 2022 after posting double-digit percentage increases over the past two years, according to police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
The data collected from 15 major city police departments show an average increase of about 5 percent in bias-motivated incidents so far this year, according to a new report by the extremism research center at California State University at San Bernardino. The 15 cities have a combined population of 25.5 million people.
By comparison, a larger sample of data from 52 major cities compiled by the center showed hate crimes in the United States surged by nearly 30 percent in 2021, according to the report.
A hate crime is defined by the FBI as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
U.S. hate crimes have been on the rise in recent years, driven by factors ranging from a surge in anti-Asian sentiments during the COVID-19 pandemic to anti-Black animus in reaction to racial justice protests that broke out across America in 2020 after the killing of African American George Floyd while in police custody.
If the increases seen so far this year hold, it would mark the fourth consecutive year in which hate crimes have risen in the United States.
In August 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released Hate Crime Statistics 2020, an annual compilation of bias-motivated incidents in the United States. Though the number of reporting agencies decreased by 452 since 2019, the overall number of reported incidents increased by 949, contributing to a total of 8,263 hate crime incidents against 11,126 victims in 2020. While annual law enforcement agency participation may fluctuate, the statistics indicate that hate crimes remain a concern for communities across the country.
According to this year’s data, 62% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ bias toward race/ethnicity/ancestry, which continues to be the largest bias motivation category. Participating agencies reported 5,227 race/ethnicity/ancestry-based incidents in 2020, a 32% increase from 2019. Anti-Black or African American hate crimes continue to be the largest bias incident victim category, with 2,871 incidents in 2020, a 49% increase since 2019. Additionally, there were 279 anti-Asian incidents reported in 2020, a 77% increase since 2019. The other largest categories of hate crimes include anti-Hispanic or Latino incidents, with 517, and anti-White incidents, with 869 in total.
And, I’d just like to add the news from New Orleans that Thanksgiving included a trip to the Jefferson Parish Prison and Courts for a niece of Chris Christie.
A niece of GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie was kicked off a New Orleans plane on Thanksgiving day; she then injured SIX deputies while resisting arrest. Witnesses say she asked passengers she thought were Latino if they were “smuggling cocaine.” https://t.co/wa84PSiGZW
One thing I truly believe is that if we allow any public transgression that’s an action against a disenfranchised sector of humanity be it women, people of color, or the LGBTQ or a religious community, it should be considered a transgression against all of us. There is a first amendment right to free speech. The right-wing and the theocrats among us do not understand what that means. We recently learned that Supreme Court justices can hold allegiance to their philosophical and religious views and get that First Amendment terrifically wrong. The big difference is they do it on purpose, and it empowers others.
Let me leave with this article about Steve Scalise and his newly anointed majority leader position in the house. The headline jumped at me. “Stephanie Grace: Let’s hope Steve Scalise brings his better angels to the majority leader’s office.” This means it’s not all about him and what his clique wants to see in public and prevent in private. Remember, this is the man who went on T.V. saying Pelosi did nothing to bring the Guard in to deal with the Jan 6 insurrection, and then the film later showed him standing right there beside her as she did that. We cannot trust him or blindly hope he’ll be different. That’s what the press told us about Trump and many of his droogies.
During his time in the House, his less combative side has shown itself on occasion. Back in 2014, he worked with Maxine Waters, another California Democrat whom Republicans love to hate, to keep federal flood insurance more affordable for homeowners. In 2020, he criticized the toxic politics of Marjorie Taylor Greene and supported a Republican primary opponent, to no avail.
Chalk at least some of this up to Scalise’s formational years in the Louisiana Legislature, where coalitions surrounding individual issues are historically more fluid than they are in Washington and where bipartisan legislation is common (although disturbingly, becoming less so in recent years).
Certainly Scalise understands his role as a party leader in the current environment and embraces it. But he has retained the invaluable, and unfortunately rare, ability to not make things personal, to not treat political disputes as showdowns with mortal enemies.
That in no way excuses the many times Scalise has leaned into the era’s ugliness instead of away from it.
He absolutely encouraged the baseless conspiracy that the 2020 election was stolen, and amazingly questioned Pelosi’s actions leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, even as he scrupulously avoided pinning any responsibility for stoking the violent insurrection on Trump. He has also voted against — and in his current role as Republican whip, lined up votes in opposition to — legislation to meet some of Louisiana’s vast infrastructure needs.
Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils, William Blake, c. 1826
I no longer believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Certainly, not in this environment. We’re fortunate to keep the Senate, but the Supreme Court will be a hot mess for a long time. I do not expect the next two years of the Republican-led House and its committees to be a cakewalk or even a walk on a stormy day. It will be more like a trek through hell. I also believe that we’ve gone too far down that path to hell to not be vigilant about the rise of hate crimes and the plans that the christofascists have for keeping the rest of us scared and in line. Their plot to keep women barefoot and in the kitchen seems well ahead of schedule. Their focus now is driving their agendas through their packed courts.
We need to stick together. I’ve used a lot of artists’ expressions of hell and fallen angels here. The metaphors and stories of various religious traditions are much more interesting when viewed as precautionary tales instead of ways to act out your zealotry. Let’s hope Scalise and a few others find their better angels.
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One of the recurrent themes in the headlines these days is the long uneven road to American Justice. We got a brief respite a few weeks ago with the Chauvin trial which quickly dispensed with a murdering cop once the system was put to work in the proper way. This was a state case handled by the Minnesota AG Keith Ellison, the former Minnesota Congressman.
We’re beginning to see the Department of Justice work in the proper way too. Many of the key appointments are focused on both ridding the corruption of the Trumpist regime and moving forward to ensure we live up to our Constitutional promise, our rule of law, and our inspirational founding with many coming together to make one.
Attorney General Bill Barr played a central role in the Trump administration’s most high-profile controversies, from undermining the Russia investigation to intervening in the cases of indicted Trump associates to ordering the forcible clearing of protesters in Lafayette Square Park.
The Biden/Garland Justice Department will play a central role in restoring rule of law and enacting many of the Biden/Harris Justice priorities.
DOJ’s broad authority also overlaps with many of the issues at the top of President Biden’s agenda, including restoring faith in government, promoting racial justice and police reform, and curbing gun violence.
Here are just a few of the actions taken to date.
The Justice Department also announcedon Wednesday that three Georgia men were charged with federal hate crimes in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, whose death was a rallying cry during last year’s racial-justice protests.
In Michigan, a superseding indictment was filed against five men accused of plotting last year to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with prosecutors referring to the alleged crimes as “domestic terrorism” for the first time.
That shift comes amid new developments in the investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which has been described as the most complex probe in DOJ history. Garland, who played a leading role in the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, has vowed to make prosecuting the Capitol rioters his “first priority.”
Other major steps taken in Garland’s first 50 days include:
“Pattern or practice” investigations into the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments, following the deaths last year of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
A 30-day “expedited review” into how DOJ can better prosecute and track hate crimes amid a surge in violence against Asian Americans.
The revocation of a Trump-era policy that restricted federal funding for “sanctuary cities.”
ABV Gallery (abvatl.com) artists Tommy Bronx and Ash “Wolfdog” Hayner installed a new mural at the intersection of Irwin and Randolph Streets in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward.
The biggest headline grabbers at the moment are the supoenas served on Rudy Guilliani and the stories of sex trafficking and child rape coming out of the Matt Gaetz investigation. Both of these are sordid in their own way and full court press is to be expected. However, the work going on to prosecute the insurrectionists as well the additional addition of federal hate crime charges to the murder of unarmed black men by police and others is significant. The new addition of Covid-19 based hate crimes against those of Asian descent will likely be in the headlines shortly.
So how did Garland get tapped to be Biden’s attorney general? The most cynical interpretation of Biden’s choice is sheer pragmatism. Nominating Garland all but assured a smooth path to confirmation through the Senate, no matter who controlled it. (Biden nevertheless waited until the outcome of the Georgia runoffs was clear before making the Garland pick public.) Garland’s nomination also freed up a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is usually considered the second most powerful court in the nation and a warm-up spot for future Supreme Court nominees. There is even perhaps a dash of sympathy in the choice: Garland’s nomination gives him a chance to not be remembered as the would-be high court justice who was blithely snubbed by the U.S. Senate.
Nominating Garland, however, also fits well with the vision of governance that Biden had offered voters on the campaign trail. He is neither an ideologue like Sessions nor a partisan like Barr, partly because of his judicial oath and partly because of his temperament. Garland’s own sister toldThe New York Timesin 2016 that she didn’t know her brother’s party affiliation. In more than two decades on the D.C. Circuit, Garland carved out a reputation as a consensus-builder. From his elevation to the appellate bench in 1997 to his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, Garland wrote just 11 dissenting opinions—a testament to his ability to bring colleagues of all stripes together.
“He was not a hands-off, let-the-clerks-just-do-their-thing kind of judge,” Jessica Bulman-Pozen, a Columbia University law professor who clerked for Garland from 2007 to 2008, told me. “He was himself totally steeped in every case. He knew all the details. He knew the record.” Garland is often described as a centrist or a moderate, because he does not fit neatly into any particular ideological box. That description, however, is less revealing than it seems. “I don’t want to say he’d be sort of moderate in the sense of waiting or restraint in addressing [things],” Bulman-Pozen said, “but I think moderate perhaps in the sense of being careful, conscientious, thorough.”
Welp, it looks like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz better start working out so that he can fight off attackers in prison because he’s about to lose his job and go straight to the pokey if anything in his former friend’s letter is true.
Joel Greenberg, a longtime associate of Gaetz, admitted in a letter that he and Gaetz paid for sex–including sex with an underaged girl.
According to a scathing report in the Daily Beast, Greenberg reportedly wrote a handwritten confession letter claiming that he and Gaetz were “involved in sexual activities” with a girl who was 17 at the time.
“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18,” he wrote.
“I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”
Shepard Fairey’s one-hundredth mural on the Founder’s League building on Clemence Street in Providence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Speaking of badly behaved and nasty Trust Fund babies, Tucker Carlson tried to give Rudy Guiliani a platform. The SDNY probably hopes old Rudy will keep going on TV to blabber away at this rate. However, let’s turn to the NYT version today. “Firing of U.S. Ambassador Is at Center of Giuliani Investigation“. I really would be thrilled if former Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch got the last word on this as a witness.
It was a Pyrrhic victory. Mr. Giuliani’s push to oust the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, not only became a focus of President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial, but it has now landed Mr. Giuliani in the cross hairs of a federal criminal investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
In particular, the federal authorities were expected to scour the electronic devices for communications between Mr. Giuliani and Trump administration officials about the ambassador before she was recalled in April 2019, one of the people added.
The warrant also sought his communications with Ukrainian officials who had butted heads with Ms. Yovanovitch, including some of the same people who at the time were helping Mr. Giuliani seek damaging information about President Biden, who was then a candidate, and his family, the people said.
At issue for investigators is a key question: Did Mr. Giuliani go after Ms. Yovanovitch solely on behalf of Mr. Trump, who was his client at the time? Or was he also doing so on behalf of the Ukrainian officials, who wanted her removed for their own reasons?
It is a violation of federal law to lobby the United States government on behalf of foreign officials without registering with the Justice Department, and Mr. Giuliani never did so.
Even if the Ukrainians did not pay Mr. Giuliani, prosecutors could pursue the theory that they provided assistance by collecting information on the Bidens in exchange for her removal.
There’s a lot of Trumpist folks gonna lose their freedom. I’m pulling that Gaetz and Guiliani lose everything they’ve got. Get those January 6 insurrectionists too!!!
Meanwhile, I’m going to be watching the return of our Department of Justice. Have a great weekend!
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A Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson came under fire Wednesday afternoon for pinning the deadly Tuesday shooting rampage that left eight dead—including six Asian women—on a 21-year-old white man’s “really bad day.”
“Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Jay Baker said during the joint news conference with the Atlanta Police Department about 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.
But it seems the same spokesperson shared racist content online, including pointing the finger at China for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—the same vitriol advocates say has fueled a horrific surge in violence against Asian Americans.
In a Facebook page associated with Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, several photos show the law enforcer was promoting T-shirts with the slogan “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”
“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote with a smiley face on a March 30 photo that included the racist T-shirts.
“Love my shirt,” Baker wrote in another post in April 2020. “Get yours while they last.’”
The shirts appear to be printed by Deadline Appeal, owned by a former deputy sheriff from Cherokee County, and sold for $22. The store, which promotes fully customizable gear, also appears to print shirts for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, a “ceremonial unit, all volunteers, who represent not only the Sheriff’s Office but also the county when participating in a variety of events,” according to a March 10 Instagram post.
Instead of even considering the killing of 6 Asian women a hate crime, Captain Jay Baker said it was a ‘really bad day’ for the suspect.
The shirt he likes says "COVID-19 Imported Virus from Chy-Na."
HOURS AFTER a 21-year-old White man purchased a gun on Tuesday, authorities said, he went on a shooting spree in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, most of them women of Asian descent. The question that investigators are trying to answer is why. Was it, as many members of the Asian American community believe, racial bigotry? Crimes of opportunity? Or, as the alleged shooter is reported to have told police, the result of a supposed sex addiction that led him to target spas? No matter the answer, the events in Georgia stand as yet another terrible reminder of the epidemic of gun violence in this country that for far too long has gone neglected.
By Xue Jie, Chinese artist
Robert Aaron Long, arrested following a brief search, is accused of opening fire at three spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people and wounding a ninth. Six of the people killed were Asian, and two were White. All but one were women. Identified so far: Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Yan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44 and Paul Andre Michels, 54. That police were able to make a quick arrest is a credit to the collaboration of different police agencies, critical cooperation from the suspect’s family and the reach of social media. According to authorities, the suspect was headed to Florida and intent on more violence.
The shootings occurred as there has been an alarming rise in discrimination, harassment and attacks of Asians. Stop AAPI Hate, a group that has collected first-hand accounts of discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, this week reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents from March 2020 through February 2021. It connects the attacks to racist rhetoric, including from former president Donald Trump, that suggests Chinese people are to blame for the pandemic….
When arrested, Mr. Long had a 9mm gun that authorities said was purchased earlier in the day. Details of the purchase — and whether it was legal — were not disclosed. Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Long took responsibility for the shootings and characterized the spas as a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” He added, “Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”
Really? Have we become so nonchalant about gun violence that we rack up the murder of eight people to someone having a “bad day?” Just as the coronavirus represents a public health emergency requiring scientific solutions and government action, so gun violence is a public health crisis that demands attention and action to put in place common-sense safety laws.
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Why Are We Taking Robert Aaron Long’s Word For It That The Georgia Killings Weren’t About Race?
At around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, a gunman entered Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, Georgia, and allegedly shot and killed four people. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, later fled the scene in a black SUV headed to another Atlanta neighborhood where, at two other spas, he reportedly shot and killed an additional four people. According to The New York Times, six of the eight victims were of Asian descent, and all but one were women. Details on Long, who apparently goes by “Aaron,” are scant, but an Instagram account appearing to belong to him proclaims: “Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.” Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a student who graduated from high school with Long in 2017 told the Daily Beast: “He was a hunter and his father was a youth minister or pastor. He was big into religion.”
Painting by Li ZiJian
Long has confessed to the killings, and the police have said that if he hadn’t been caught, it’s “very likely there would have been more victims.” In contrast to the tone typically taken after people of color allegedly commit crimes, Cherokee County sheriff’s captain Jay Baker told reporters, of Long, “He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did,” which is an odd way to describe allegedly committing eight murders….
Also strange: the fact that authorities are seemingly happy to take Long’s word for it re: race supposedly playing no part in the killings….
as Asian American author Celeste Ngwrote on Twitter: “Racism and misogyny are so deeply intertwined that they cannot be disentangled. We really can’t talk about one without talking about the other.”
As the Timesnoted, there have been almost 3,800 reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans since last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic took off; last month a 61-year-old Asian man was slashed in the face on a New York City subway. In a statement following the Georgia shootings, Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said: “Even before the pandemic and the racist scapegoating that came in its wake, AAPI women routinely experienced racialized misogyny. Now our community, particularly women, elders, and workers with low-wage jobs, are bearing the brunt of continued vilification.”
When Georgia law enforcement briefed the public on Wednesday morning about the 21-year-old white man who shot and killed eight people—six of them Asian women—at Atlanta-area massage parlors Tuesday night, it wasn’t helpful.
Officials made a puzzling series of claims of fact, despite being cartoonishly cautious about other aspects of the case. Officials claimed that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long had a “sex addiction” but admitted they didn’t know whether sex work occurred at the places where Long killed people. Who told them that Long had a sex addiction? Was it Long himself?
They weren’t sure whether Long was motivated by the racial identity or gender of his victims, and thus said they couldn’t say with certainty that a hate crime had been committed, but then again, they said with certainty that before he’d committed the crimes the shooter had “a really bad day.” Who told them that Long had a really bad day? Did they fact-check that one, or did they once again simply repeat the words of a suspected mass killer into a microphone? (I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: I don’t give a flying-saucer fuck about what kind of day a mass shooter was having before opening fire.)
In her book Down Girl, philosopher Kate Mann describes the phenomenon of “himpathy,” which she defines as “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate-partner violence, homicide, and other misogynistic behavior.” The phenomenon is particularly on display when a male public figure is accused of sexual misconduct and his defenders comment on how the man’s life has been “ruined,” like when Lindsey Graham lost his marbles during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.
By Mai Trung Thu, Vietnamese artist
When men specifically target women in their violent crimes, some in positions of power fall all over themselves to make the case that those crimes were somehow in women’s power to stop, that men’s out-of-control unmet entitlement functions like a semitruck that lost the use of its brakes while heading down a steep grade, and that those who get hit should have moved out of the way.
Violent acts committed by men who have a problem with women and sex—they’re not getting enough; they feel bad about getting too much; the women who they believe should be giving them sex are instead choosing to have sex with other men—are similarly excused as something we should understand on an emotional level. If only women had been sluttier/less slutty when it came to the sad men, perhaps the men wouldn’t have been pushed to do what they did….
The murder of six Asian women and a white man and white woman in Atlanta didn’t only call to mind over-empathization with maleness; Long’s treatment by law enforcement also draws attention to the way authorities treat whiteness.
Of the eight people who were killed when a White man attacked three metro Atlanta spas, six were Asian women.
Investigators said it was too early to say whether the crime was racially motivated, and instead pointed to the suspect’s claim of a potential sex addiction.
But experts and activists argue it’s no coincidence that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And the suspect’s remarks, they say, are rooted in a history of misogyny and stereotypes that are all too familiar for Asian and Asian American women.
The way their race intersects with their gender makes Asian and Asian American women uniquely vulnerable to violence, said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum….
Painting by Di Li Feng
The perceptions of Asian and Asian American women as submissive, hypersexual and exotic can be traced back centuries.
Rachel Kuo, a scholar on race and co-leader of Asian American Feminist Collective, points to legal and political measures throughout the nation’s history that have shaped these harmful ideas.
Today is the Anniversary of the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster back in the 1930s. I figure that’s as good of a place as any to start our reads today because everything else is a lot less believable. This is the type of monster sighting I’d like to read about. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of monster sighting we get today.
Newly published documents reveal that a Scottish police official in the 1930s believed ‘beyond doubt’ that the Loch Ness monster existed. Expert Loren Coleman says it reveals the government’s longstanding policy to protect the mythic beast.
I’m pretty much turning into a victim of shaken head syndrome because I find myself doing that or picking my jaw up off the floor nearly daily. Every day there’s a monster sighting on the internet. Perhaps having a major political party elect a known-nothing reality TV star for president has something to do with it. Donald Trump has this way of bringing out the worst in people and bringing out the worst people. He is the monster we see today on the internet and on TV and he brings a lot of them with him.
White Lives Matter staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, sparking controversy and counter-protests in a city where racial tensions remain high after a string of recent incidents.
Clutching Confederate flags, white supremacist signs and, in several cases, assault rifles, roughly 20 White Lives Matter members stood on the sidewalk of a historically black neighborhood to denounce the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”
Reed, who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat and a “White Lives Matter” shirt with white supremacist symbols, said protesters were “not out here to instigate or start any problems,” despite the weaponry and body armor on display.
Saturday’s shooting was not the first incident of violence to hit this growing Bangladeshi community, which straddles the border between the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
For years, attacks have happened, most frequently during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when activity at the five neighborhood mosques peaks. Police bolstered patrolling efforts and stationed officers outside of mosques during the month. For the most part, community members said their presence has been helpful.
But protection during Ramadan is not enough, Hoque said.
“I feel like 106 Precinct is very lazy because they don’t have enough patrolman in our area,” she said. At the rally, Hoque said she witnessed community members, usually on the side of the police, levy similar charges.
While some uneasy neighborhood residents believe the need for more robust policing is greater than ever, some younger community members feel it is time to lessen the community’s dependence on police.
On Wednesday afternoon, the men of Al-Furqan Jame Masjid were gathered in the prayer space, which amounted to little more than two adjoining rooms cooled by an array of three-armed ceiling fans. There, they discussed plans for succession and next steps.
Mohamed Amen, an Egyptian-American police officer in the community affairs bureau, was among the men seated in front of the crowd of 30 men.
“Alhamdulilah,” a few men murmured in unison. Thank God.
Then he addressed the matter of motive. “I can tell you that the hate crimes unit is conducting its own investigation,” he said.
Travel.Scotland, Oddities. pic: June 1969. American submarine expert Dan Taylor sits in the cockpit of his 20 foot submarine at Loch Ness, where he will go underwater to search for the Loch Ness Monster. PPP
Donald Trump is alienating his own supporters because of his sometimes “erratic” and inflammatory ad hominem attacks, according to a focus group held Saturday by pollster and Republican strategist Frank Luntz.
“He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess you can say he’s lost me,” one participant said in the focus group, which aired Sunday as a segment on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.”
The panel, conducted in Pennsylvania, only had a handful of attendees that were still committed to supporting the GOP nominee. Several more participants once backed Trump but no longer do.
“When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working,” one man, Michael R., said. “But since then, he’s been running as a 12 year old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.”
Another, Howard E. chimed in: “Whenever somebody makes a derogatory comment to him, like in a democratic convention, Trump feels like he needs to attack that person. And he says things that are crazy. And I keep asking myself: is this the kind of person I want to handle the nuclear codes?”
More people are beginning to worry that his end game is actually to start a Alt-right/White Nationalist media empire given his thrown in with both Alec Jones and Steve Bannon.
Has Donald Trump given up on winning the White House and “pivoted” (this might be his real pivot) to a full-blown effort to build a national following that will outlast the election, perhaps allowing him to establish a media empire with him at the helm — one that caters, at least to some degree, to a white nationalist or “alt-right” audience? Was that his plan all along?
The last few days have brought fresh reporting and evidence that suggest this is where Trump is really headed, a scenario that a numberof observers (your humble blogger included) have been speculating about for months. I thought it would be useful to round up this evidence:
* Vanity Fair media writer Sarah Ellison reports in a radio interviewthat Trump has had private discussions with his inner circle about “how to monetize” the new audience he’s built up. As Ellison puts it, this potential goal should no longer be seen as “speculation.”
* The New York Times reports today that in July, Trump’s campaign “spent more on renting arenas for his speeches” than he did on setting up a national field operation, leaving him with no operation to speak of. That is consistent with the idea that Trump (as I’ve speculated) is very consciously sinking most of his resources into a format (rallies) that allows him to continue staging his unique form of raucous WWE-style political entertainment, and building an audience that thrills to it, rather than winning a general election.
While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate.
“Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers,” said Steve Schmidt, the GOP operative who was McCain’s campaign strategist in 2008.
“Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen — in a media culture where people increasingly don’t buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there’s no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics.”
Should Trump opt not to concede after a loss or deliberately roil his supporters and spark uprisings by refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election results, he would still have little recourse to alter a significant electoral victory for Clinton. Only if the election were close, hinging on one or two states where there were alleged voting irregularities, could Trump seriously contest the result in court.
But beyond who wins the White House in November, many Republicans fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and politics itself will have a lasting impact.
I’m expecting a good deal of these dudes will not go quietly into that great night. Frankly, I hope the police are up to it. There’s a reliance on conspiracy theories and monster sightings that scares the bejeebus out of me. It’s hard to know what exactly what folks like this will do when backed into reality. The Donald Trump monster is not fake in the traditional sense of monster sightings. He’s more than real even though everything he promises, affirms as truth, and does is not particularly real.
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As we learn more about Omar Mateen, the man who murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, it is becoming clear that it was no accident that the gunman deliberately targeted LGBT people. His claims of connections to overseas terror groups may have been little more than a cover for his own “internalized homophobia.” From an LGBT support website “Revel and Riot.” The image at the top of this post also comes from the Revel and Riot article.
Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.
It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).
Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).
PROBLEMS WITH THE TERM
Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a difficult and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?
Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism’, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over simplified idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.
When we see that homophobia is a result of a this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.
The above paragraphs form the introduction to a long article, complete with academic references. I can’t help but wonder if it may provide a better explanation for Omar Mateen’s actions than the reflexive assumption that his terrorist attack was inspired the quite disparate terror groups that he claimed connections with.
An American man suspected of killing at least 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting organisations, according to the director of the FBI.
As details of the worst mass shooting in US history emerged, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday that the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with ISIL.
“They’re really trying to paint a picture of a confused person, who felt targeted because of his religion,” said Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Orlando.
The shooter had called 911 during the attack at the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday to express his allegiance to ISIL.
But Comey – who believed Mateen had “strong signs of radicalisation” – said that in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.
The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.
Mateen appears to have been confused about the groups he named and that they were in opposition to each other. It now seems that these claims were attempts to draw attention away from his conflicted attitudes toward LGBT people and possibly toward his own sexuality.
A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out….
The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.
“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.
He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.
“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”
Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads ‘Stonewall Means… Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!’ (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)
At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.
“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.
Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times.
“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.” ….
Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app.
They had never met, West said, but he watched as Mateen entered the club about 1 a.m. Sunday, an hour before the shooting began.
There’s quite a bit of information about Mateen’s connections to law enforcement in the article. I think those could reveal a great deal about his personality as well as his attitudes toward homosexuality. I’m sure we’ll be learning more in the days ahead.
According to The Daily Mail, even Mateen’s ex-wife says he had “gay tendencies.” From the article:
Many in the Orlando gay community are now coming forward to share similar stories of seeing Mateen at clubs for the past decade or speaking to him on hookup apps….
Regulars at Pulse said they saw Mateen several times over the past three years drinking alcohol and dancing with men.
A couple who perform as drag-queens at the popular venue in 1912 South Orange Avenue said they had seen the 29-year-old party at Pulse.
Ty Smith and Chris Callen said the father-of-one was sometimes so drunk he had to be removed from the club.
Callen, who performs as Kristina McLaughlin, said: ‘I’ve seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I’ve spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before.’
Smith said he’d seen Mateen at Pulse ‘at least a dozen times.’
‘We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,’ Smith said. ‘He told us he had a wife and child.’
A security guard who worked at the club two years ago still remembered Mateen turning up to the venue, he added.
Orlando’s gay community is still reeling from the tragedy, and those who had seen Mateen at gay clubs before seem to all have a story to share about his temper.
Callen said Mateen, who seemed like a ‘nice guy’ and was ‘comfortable’ with the draq queens, threatened someone with a knife when he became angry about a religious joke.
Remarks that Mateen drank heavily conflict with his apparently strict adherence to his Muslim faith, including regular worship at a mosque in his home town of Port St. Lucie – where he was quiet and kept to himself.
Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.
The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.
“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?'” co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”
“Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they ‘doth protest too much,'” Ryan told LiveScience. “In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves.”
Ryan cautioned, however, that this link is only one source of anti-gay sentiments.
Read much more about these studies at the link.
It’s very important not to allow the media and Republicans to erase the fact that the attack on The Pulse was an attack on the rights of people in the LGBT community and their freedom to gather and support each other in public places.
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.