A few random thoughts on the Duggar scandal

duggars-persecution

Would you trust these people to teach YOU morality? If the answer is yes, you just might be a Pharisee.

So, this happened. Finally, after years of parading their nauseating Quiverfull sanctimony on the Internets and TV to the tune of big, BIG bucks, the Duggars are off the air. How come?

Well, it seems that their eldest son, Josh, was a very naughty boy. And a very hypocritical man, too, for years after the fact. And they themselves aided and abetted him by sweeping his abuse — much of it downright incestuous — under the rug. And by throwing his victims — their own daughters — under the bus.

So it’s kind of sweet to see them finally reaping a little bit of what they sowed. And no small relief to know that they’ve been denied at least one major media mouthpiece for their despicable views. I’m guessing that ol’ Jim Bob and Michelle might want to put off trying for Sprog #20 indefinitely now, seeing as their gravy train — or clown car, rather — has screeched to a sudden halt.

But hold your hosannas, folks, because there’s not much to cheer about here.

For starters: Josh Duggar never did any time for his crimes. The abuses in question all took place over a decade ago. For a dozen years or more, several girls have been carrying this heavy secret around, effectively covering for their abuser. They don’t dare speak out themselves, because that would call the entire Quiverfull movement (a cult, really) into question. Because its teachings are heavily to blame for both their molestation and its cover-up.

And then there’s the big question of how they were treated following the assaults. Did they get proper counselling and treatment for the traumas they endured? I don’t know, but somehow I doubt it. Did they get slut-shamed by the all-male cult “headship” for “tempting” him with their budding young bodies? I don’t know either, but I certainly wouldn’t doubt it. For a fertility cult, the Quiverfulls sure do rely a lot on female chastity. And they make sure it’s enforced through a strict, home-schooled “purity culture”, heavy on patriarchal dogma and light on useful knowledge. Their overall education is far from comprehensive (or accurate), so I’m guessing that their sexual education is at best sketchy. Knowledge is power, and the fact that the junior Duggars have been brought up on an unholy broth of ignorance and lies doesn’t bode well for their future autonomy. Unless, of course, they do what a growing number of the Phelps clan have done, and exit the family cult. (Run, Jinger, RUN!)

And then there’s the fact that Josh Duggar has actually done quite well for himself and his own Quiverfull brood in the interim, working for an infamous right-wing stink tank, the Family Research Council. He had to resign when this scandal finally grew beyond all hope of damage control, but the real damage he did while in their employ is still being felt by women and queerfolk. After all, those wingnuts he worked for helped keep Arkansas in the transphobic Dark Ages. And they did it by enlisting Josh’s mom, Michelle Duggar, to record a disgusting robocall about evil, wicked trans people out to rape everyone’s sweet, virginal daughters. It worked, too: Arkansas’s proposed anti-discrimination law didn’t pass.

Never mind that the biggest threat to women and girls is not the imaginary man-in-drag claiming to be a woman so he can break into bathrooms to sexually assault little girls, that “queer” variation on the hoary old theme of Stranger Danger. Never mind that actual cases of women or girls being assaulted by such individuals simply don’t exist. No, let’s all go on ignoring the real threat, that smirking dough-ball in a suit, who pushed crapaganda about phantom menaces while keeping his own very real sex crimes hidden in the old family closet.

Even some otherwise intelligent radical feminists have fallen for that lie, which is a testimony to the insidious power of the Duggars and their ilk. It’s also a testimony to the power of dogma and antiquated ideology. Here’s a pro tip, my rad-fem comrades: If you find your views on gender dovetailing inextricably with those of the Religious Reich, you’re not pushing for women’s liberation anymore. You’re pushing against it, and you don’t even know it.

And here’s another, just for good measure: Trans women are not “really men”, they are really WOMEN. And they’re being abused by the same people who are selling you those dirty lies about their gender. When a trans woman is forced to use the men’s room because she doesn’t “pass”, and she gets assaulted for it, that’s abuse. That’s on all of those who pushed to keep trans people’s rights unprotected. And if you joined in that push, congratulations: You’ve made common cause with the enemies of all women.

You want to liberate women from patriarchy? Great! Then recognize your trans sisters as women. Stop fretting over what’s between their legs. Learn their concerns; you’ll find that they mesh nicely with yours. Bigotries tend to cluster, so a unified front — that’s the real meaning of intersectionality — is needed to combat them. Don’t do the bigots’ work for them! Fight the patriarchy and its dogmas, not the trans women who are their victims.

And if you meet a trans woman in the public toilets, don’t panic. Remember, she’s there for the same reasons you are. You didn’t come to perpetrate a sexual assault? Good, because neither did she. Isn’t it a relief to know that she’s only there to relieve herself, same as you?

And if any man is lurking in the vicinity, waiting for victims, I doubt very much that he’d bother to dress in drag first. Unless, of course, his costume is that of the fine, upstanding family man who can do no wrong. That one fools the whole world, every single time.

Ontario sex-ed fight gets ugly. What century is this, again?

sex-ed-daughter

Good lord. I would have thought that teaching kids the facts of life at public school was no longer even a little bit controversial, but apparently it’s become just that. AGAIN. And today, in the Ontario Legislature, the pot boiled over:

Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Essex), a leadership hopeful, attacked Premier Kathleen Wynne on Tuesday for not doing enough to consult parents before implementing the new syllabus that takes effect in September.

McNaughton told the house that the premier should not be imposing views upon mothers and fathers concerned about the revised program designed to protect children by better informing them about sex.

Note that the oh-so-concerned-for-concerned-parents Mr. McNaughton is a Conservative “leadership hopeful”. Hence all his laudable, laudable concern for the unheard voices of parents who don’t want their kids learning anything about sex at school. His leadership hopes took a bit of a trouncing, though, at the hands of the woman whose job he’s eyeballing:

Wynne, Ontario’s first female premier and lone openly lesbian first minister, suggested the Tory MPP was being homophobic when he said Monday “it’s not the premier of Ontario’s job — especially Kathleen Wynne — to tell parents what’s age-appropriate for their children.”

“What is it that especially disqualifies me for the job that I’m doing? Is it that I’m a woman? Is it that I’m a mother? Is it that I have a master’s of education? Is it that I was a school council chair? Is it that I was the minister of education?” she told the house.

“What is it exactly that the member opposite thinks disqualifies me from doing the job that I’m doing? What is that?”

Yeah, Monte, go on going after her job. After all, she’s just a trained schoolteacher with a master’s degree, a former provincial education minister, AND a parent. What the hell would SHE know about age-appropriate sex ed?

Could the real reason he’s so squiffy toward her new curriculum be none other than the simple fact that she’s gay? Or is it something more sinister, namely the anti-intellectual bent that we’ve seen so much of in the Ontario SupposiTories since the bad old days of Mike Harris and his No-Sense Devolution, when he put a high-school drop-out in charge of the provincial education ministry and basically ordered ol’ Snowballs to ransack it and leave no textbook untorn? The same generation that grew up on a starved education system now takes such governmental neglect for not only normal, but a correct course of action. Twenty years of undoing the good work of William B. Davis, the Education Premier?

Yeah, let’s stay the course. That’s still an electable strategy, right? I mean, just look at the peanut gallery these guys are playing to:

McNaughton and one of his rival PC leadership candidates — MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) — met with the raucous protesters, many of whom brandished anti-abortion signs.

Yup, it’s the anti-intellectual brigade, out in full force against anything that might inform their kids more and better than they themselves would! To hear this crowd talk, you’d think that just not telling kids anything about sex at all, other than “don’t do it till you’re married, and only for procreation” would be an effective means of preventing unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and that deadliest of all sins, Teh Ghey. Meanwhile, the precious, protected children of people like these grow into the kind of harassers who stand outside women’s health clinics, baptizing imaginary “murdered” babies.

But what am I saying? Nobody knows better than a parent what’s really good for the kids, right? RIGHT???

“Parents should be the first educators on serious issues like sex education . . . Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals are not respecting parents,” McNaughton told a rally of more than 200 people outside the legislature.

Oh, but of course. Parents are the bestest sex educators a kid could have. And the government has no right to “interfere”! That’s why schools that teach “abstinence only”, in accordance with religious parents’ wishes, have higher pregnancy rates and STD rates than schools that teach comprehensive sex ed. That’s why so many people whose parents “protected” them by withholding all sex information other than “Just Don’t Do It” are parents before their time, perpetuating the vicious cycle faster and faster than ever before. That’s why antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea and syphilis are wreaking havoc on kids whose folks told them condoms were the devil’s toys. That’s why AIDS is still incurable and there’s no vaccine on the market for it yet. The same people who think a few shots of Gardasil will turn their daughters into harlots when those girls haven’t even put down their Barbie dolls yet. The same whose kids are so desperate to learn anything at all about sex that they turn to porn for info. Yeah, those people are the greatest sexperts on Earth, and nothing they say could possibly be fallible.

And it could never fail their kids, either.

Happy Human Rights Day!

human-rights-sanctions.jpg

“We will impose sanctions on those who defend human rights!” Once more, a Venezuelan cartoonist — this time, it’s Uncas — hits the nail on the head.

And in honor of Human Rights Day, here’s another fine example of how the US doesn’t lead when it comes to human rights, it just crushes them underfoot, like Orwell’s boot stomping on a human face forever:

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released the executive summary of its long-awaited “Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” describing in more than 500 pages a dysfunctional agency so unprepared to handle suspected terrorist detainees after 9/11, that the CIA bought into private contractors’ proposals for torture, and then lied to Congress, President Bush, the Justice Department, the public, and to itself about the purported effectiveness of the program.

The Senate release includes a 6-page foreword by committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a 19-page list of 20 specific Findings and Conclusions, and a 499-page Executive Summary which details the development of the torture program after 9/11. The longest single section of the Summary, from page 172 to page 400, eviscerates the CIA’s “eight primary CIA effectiveness representations” along with 12 “secondary” ones by showing either there was “no relationship” between the cited success and detainee information “during or after” the CIA’s use of torture, or that such information was otherwise available and even obtained prior to the use of torture.

Translation: TORTURE DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.

Also, THE CIA IS THE SAME EVIL BAND OF JACKALS AS IT WAS WHEN IT PLOTTED TO KILL JFK. IT HASN’T CHANGED ONE FUCKING IOTA.

And in addition to that, CAPITALISM + TORTURE = REALLY FUCKING EXPENSIVE MURDER MACHINE THAT DOESN’T EVEN FUCKING WORK.

Oh yeah, and on top of that, LIES, LIES AND MORE FUCKING LIES:

Including 2,725 footnotes to specific CIA documents, the Senate report shows a pattern of repeated factual inaccuracies by CIA in communications with the Justice Department (to get legal cover for the program), with the White House (including false information inserted in the President’s Daily Brief and one of President Bush’s major speeches), with the Congress (Appendix 3 starting on page 462 provides more than 30 pages of false statements in testimony by former CIA director Michael Hayden), and even inside the Agency itself.

THIRTY FUCKING PAGES OF BULLSHIT FROM MICHAEL FUCKING HAYDEN ALONE, PEOPLE. And it doesn’t end with him, either:

The report cites CIA documents showing CIA officers at the secret detention sites repeatedly protested the torture program — one interrogator called the program a “train wreak” [sic] and wrote “I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” But higher-ups, including CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Hayden, overruled objections and kept the program going until President Obama ended it in 2009. The head of CIA counterterrorism operations, Jose Rodriguez, even reprimanded CIA officers at one site for their protests, warning them to refrain from using “speculative language as to the legality of given activities” in CIA cables.

It’s not a question of who fucked up, at this point; the list of those who didn’t fuck up is infinitely shorter.

Of course, none of this comes as any great surprise to me; BushCo was a veritable fuck-up factory. It churned ’em out assembly-line style, from start to finish. There is nothing that Weak ‘n’ Stupid touched that didn’t turn to ca-ca. Appropriately, for someone descended from royalty, ol’ Dubya sure does have the reverse Midas touch.

And there is no doubt in my mind that every torturer-jack of them belongs in The Hague, and locked up shortly after. But don’t take MY word for it…

A U.N. human rights expert said a report that the U.S. Senate released on Tuesday revealed a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration” and called for prosecution of U.S. officials who ordered crimes, including torture, against detainees.

Ben Emmerson, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said senior Bush administration officials who planned and authorized crimes must be prosecuted, along with as CIA and other U.S. government officials who committed torture such as waterboarding.

“As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Emmerson said in a statement issued in Geneva. “The U.S. Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.”

Unfortunately, THAT’s not going to happen. Practically the first thing His Barackness did upon setting foot in the Oval Office was to amnesty all these war criminals, torturers and murderers. Translation: NO HOPE OF A FUCKING PROSECUTION EVER. And, by the way, that’s illegal:

International law prohibits granting immunity to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture, he said.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Emmerson said.

Torture is an international crime and perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country to which they might travel, he added.

Incidentally, that’s the very reason Henry Fucking Kissinger no longer sets foot outside of US soil. There’s an international warrant out for his arrest, for war crimes dating all the way back to the Vietnam War.

His Barackness would be well advised to reverse that amnesty now, if he doesn’t want to become complicit — and a war criminal, and suffer the same fate — himself. But — oops! — it’s already way too late for that.

Happy Human Rights Day, indeed, my US friends. How does it feel to live in a country where that phrase has become totally meaningless?

The “most moral army in world” shits all over Gaza. Literally.

just-defending-ourselves.jpg

Israeli troops may have (momentarily) withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, but they haven’t really left it. Traces of them still cling to everything they’ve occupied, and not in a good way:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

[…]

A handful of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

“I have no money to fix this,” he said, claiming that his life savings of $10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. “Every house between here and there has been destroyed.”

Charming. Didn’t any of their mothers toilet-train these little terrorists? Couldn’t they at least find a bathroom to do their business in? Did they wash their hands afterwards, or just wipe them down on the curtains? And where were their superior officers when these bandits robbed Ahmed of his life savings? Sucking hummus made by settlers in the Occupied Territories off their thumbs, no doubt.

Yeah, these guys have all the maturity of a diaper-dragging two-year-old. It’s a wonder they can hold a rifle straight. Doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability to wage “surgical” strikes if they can’t even clean up after themselves. Or be trusted to leave a cash stash where they found it. Land is not the only thing these guys are in the business of stealing, it seems.

And how does this “most moral army in the world” treat the children of Gaza? Like this:

Half an hour’s drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls’ school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

Here too, said the school’s caretaker, Fayez, who didn’t want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. “You will be fucked here” and “Don’t forget it’s time for you to die” were chalked in English on blackboards.

The Guardian notes that the new school year is slated to begin in a little over two weeks. Not much time to repair the damage and clean up the mess, in other words. Assuming that Israel doesn’t start bombing all over again, and smash that school to rubble this time, those girls will be seeing that those “moral” Israeli soldiers are all slobbering for the chance to rape and kill them. And they’ll also be smelling the lingering stench of their ordure.

The Guardian also notes that “The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.” Could it because they haven’t yet made up a hasbaratic “explanation” for why their brave, brave boys felt compelled to shit all over innocent people’s homes and schools?

Golly, talk about leading by example. Yep, that squeaky-clean “only democracy in the Middle East” is sure adept at persuading those barbarous Arabs of its nobility and virtue!

Posted in Do As I Say..., Fascism Without Swastikas, Fine Young Cannibals, Gazing on Gaza, Isn't It Ironic?, Isn't That Illegal?, Isn't That Racist?. Comments Off on The “most moral army in world” shits all over Gaza. Literally. »

Manuel Zelaya speaks out: “The president of Honduras is John Kerry”

zelaya-waving.jpg

This man is the last true democratically elected president Honduras has had. Five years ago, he was deposed in a violent military putsch, backed to the hilt by Washington. Manuel Zelaya was sent into exile, very much against his will, and even more so against the will of the Honduran people. Ever since then, there’s been a campaign to silence all critics of the US-imposed puppet régimes (there have been three so far) in the wake of the coup. Sham elections have not been enough to buy off the populace, and criticism has been growing. This year, things came to a head when child refugees from Central America, thousands of them, began arriving at the border with Mexico, unaccompanied by adults, but often in possession of their birth certificates and other documents identifying them and their countries of origin. Honduras is heavily represented among those lands, and if you wonder why, let the last real president of the land explain it all to you:

A short time after the fifth anniversary of the coup d’état that brought down his government, former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya spoke with Miradas al Sur about the current situation in Honduras and Latin America.


Manuel Zelaya only began to be affectionately called “Mel” by large parts of the population of Honduras in the second half of his mandate as president there. Until then, and for a good part of the peoples of Latin America, he had only been the progressive face of the Honduran Liberal Party, one of the traditional axes of power in the Central American country. But as of 2008, his way of wielding power began to turn toward the creation of a state closer to the humble folk, and more disposed toward solidarity with the popular sectors not only of his own land, but of all the Caribbean. Zelaya put conservative noses out of joint, and even those of his own comrades, upon confirming the leftward turn of his government, with a 60% minimum wage increase and an explicit turn toward 20th-century socialism. That same year, and hand in hand with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela, Honduras formally entered into Petrocaribe and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). “Petrocaribe is a commercial alliance. ALBA is an alliance of Latin American integration. I entered into both. Those countries who want to establish another system for a world which is still possible, must join ALBA. Not just Petrocaribe. That is more for business dealings,” Zelaya explained.

But while a good part of Latin America and the Caribbean was drawing closer to “Mel”, there were some in Honduras and the United States who grieved for politicians like Zelaya, and even more for those who preceded him. So it was that on June 28, 2009, the armed forces, backed by the supreme court of the nation, carried out a coup d’état which did away with the progressive profile of Honduras. “The result of the coup was that the security apparatus or the economic apparatus or the economic system began to be 99% directed by policies designed in Washington,” said the former president. “And, lamentably, they are policies of the most reactionary right-wing elements in the United States, very sectarian groups of the far right. After the coup, narcotrafficking and crime increased. The exploitation of the transnational mining firms is deepening, the privatization of all public services such as roadways, ports, telecommunications. They’ve even privatized things that belong to civil society and the state, such as collecting customs duties. And one of the most classic forms that the North American right has for controlling our countries is militarism. Now, here, soldiers have been substituted for the police. They’re substituting for the powers of the state in all matters and have given them extraordinary powers, as if we were living in a de facto dictatorial state. The separation of powers disappeared. There’s just one power of state, which the president wields over the military. If we review all the indicators of the land, we will find that everything has deteriorated from the coup to the present. The internal and external debt has quintupled. In five years, they’ve managed to indebt the country like it was in the 1960s, and it’s the largest debt in our history. The murder rate has converted us into the most violent country on the planet. We were a small and peaceful country. We are the poorest society in Latin America. We have always been at some level of poverty, but never like it is now. The president of Honduras is not Juan Orlando Hernández; he was imposed by way of a fraud. The presidnet of Honduras is named John Kerry, and his policies are those of the United States.”

Following his removal from office, and after several months in exile, Zelaya joined the National Front of Popular Resistance, which became the party of Freedom and Refoundation (LIBRE), over which he presides today. In November of 2013, LIBRE participated in the presidential elections with Xiomara Castro, Zelaya’s wife, as candidate, reaching second place and breaking up the historic bipartisanism of the National Party and the Liberals.

A few weeks ago, Zelaya himself denounced that he had been repressed, along with all his party, at the doors of the National Congress.

“That incident is just one more proof of the militarization of the land, and its absorption in neoliberal politics,” Zelaya pointed out. And with respect to this point, he emphasized that “we have to get back to calling it neoliberalism. Because neoliberalism in itself was the monetary and fiscal control of a society, but now it has advanced in military politics, in looting and exploitation, in diseases, epidemics, pestilence, death. Now it’s a neoliberalism of disaster which is being applied here. We were expelled from the congress at bayonet-point, and with tear gas, because one of the characteristics of the governments of force is that they don’t accept the opposition. For them, the opposition has to disappear, and for that reason, they have to limit our access to the media. There is an exaggerated media blockade today in Honduras. We have no option to defend ourselves practically in any media outlet. Everything is against us. But we ourselves have grown stronger. We are much stronger than before, especially because the popular consciousness has grown in recognizing what affects us. We understand that the United States won’t go away; what we need is to have honest, respectful relations with them. Which is what we don’t have right now, because those currently governing [in Honduras] are those who duck their heads and bow down to serve Washington’s orders.”

In effect, as well as having an enormous weight in Honduran internal politics, the United STates are now the centre of a very deep international debate which affects Central American societies. In the last months, the phenomenon of child migration toward the northern country has taken on a worrisome importance, to the point where the affected countries are trying to begin joint actions to deal with it. In June alone, it is estimated that 2,000 Salvadoran, Honduran and Mexican children crossed the border into the United States every week.

“The problem is that the great powers were born of migration, but don’t want to recognize the migrants of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Zelaya. “They are products of migration, but they close themselves off in an anti-historical nationalism because emigrating is a right, not a crime. We all have that right because we were born in a world which is shared among all, in one human race. Those who managed to get to those nations are telling them to take their children. And now they’re hunting those children without pity. Now the powers are on display before the world. Because first they deny their parents the right to be legalized, and now they’re persecuting the children. Just as at the time when Jesus was born, they’re ordering them to kill all the children who were born then so that no messiah can emerge. Worse than the persecutions of the holocaust. They’re persecuting children, torturing them, denying them the right to reunite with their families. This is not a humanitarian crisis, it’s a humanitarian crime of the neoliberal model against the poor of Latin America and Africa.”

Translation mine.

I have to admit that Mel Zelaya didn’t really appear on my radar until he joined the ALBA, which is the late Chavecito’s baby and which has been going from strength to strength even now, after his death. At first Mel seemed like just another too-conservative-for-my-liking leader, but when he began to demonstrate that his heart was in the right place and his feet were headed in a good direction, I was sold. Not only was Mel the last real president of Honduras, he was also unequivocally the best. Under him, the socioeconomic profile of that poor little country was beginning to rise. Poor people were getting access to social services that had been denied them before: doctors, schools, hospitals. Literacy was going up; poverty rates were beginning to fall. And all that, which should have been terrific news, was greeted by Washington in the kind of doomsday-prophet tones you’d expect in the advent of a Category 5 hurricane about to make landfall along the eastern seaboard.

Which, of course, the ALBA was. A hurricane of promise, hope and rapid improvement. A hurricane of mutual aid and regional autonomy. Countries that used to rely abjectly on foreign “aid” from the US and elsewhere began to stand up on their own feet, and walk unassisted. That was bad news for those who used to turn obscene profits from the poverty and dependency of those little Latin American lands. They were used to taking advantage of those poor, ill-educated, highly dependent folks — as cheap labor, cannon fodder for proxy wars, and houseboys to the empire. The fact that those same people were now becoming aware that they could be so much more than that did not sit well with Washington. Hence, the coup.

It gives me no satisfaction to see blowback arriving in the form it has taken. Child refugees are the most helpless and vulnerable of them all. Along the way, who knows how many have been robbed, raped, beaten and killed? The ones we hear about arriving in Texas and Arizona are the lucky ones, the ones that made it through in one piece.

Honduras is embroiled in a civil war, although the US media won’t report that. And the death squads that we thought had died out with the evil 1980s? They’re back with a vengeance. That’s why so many desperate Central American parents are sending their kids to the country which, in a massive and humorless irony, is the author of their misfortunes.

When will it all end? When democracy is restored in Honduras, of course. But for that to happen, first the sham “democracy” installed by Washington must be trashed and kicked to the curb. The last real president of the land has not finished his mandate, and the three impostors who were tapped to “replace” him know this full well.

So do the people of Honduras, and they are absolutely furious that their will has been trampled under the boots of a fascism that everyone except the “freedom-loving”, “democratic” country behind it is willing to call by its right name. Little wonder that they are willing to give up even their own children to place the problem back at the door of its source!

Oh, for the love of muff…

ruby-may.jpg

Portrait of Ms. Ruby May, Standing, by Leena McCall. Medium: Oil on canvas.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? I can’t.

I hear that it was deemed “pornographic and disgusting”, which I’m sure would come as a laugh to anyone who’s actually seen disgusting pornography (and I have). I have to wonder at the delicate sensibilities of the fuddy-duddies who thought this was too much, while allowing another portrait — fully nude, but more conventionally posed — to pass. (And by “conventionally posed”, I mean with the woman model as passive object of the male gaze.)

Perhaps the problem with this is that Ms. Ruby May has what appear to be henna tattoos, draped like tendrils over her shoulders and collarbones. Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s half-dressed in turn-of-the-last-century drag. Heavens to Betsy, a woman in a vest and knickers! (And no, British readers, that’s not an undershirt and panties, that’s vest as in gentleman’s waistcoat, and knickers as in bockers.) Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s wearing a watch-chain, another masculine touch underscoring the drag sensibility of the whole. Or maybe it’s that pipe (an obvious prop, since there’s no perfumed smoke curling daintily from its bowl.)

No, no, that can’t be it. What is it, then?

Oh my gawd, her pants are undone. And what is that I see peeking out? Why, the lady has pubes! Oh noes!

As everybody knows by now, female pubes are a terrible scourge and a menace to society. They must be scraped away, torn out at the roots, and the roots killed with fire, lest they ever sprout again. As everybody knows, lady-pubes allowed to run rampant will molest little boys. And kill babies!

The only thing worse than the scourge of lady-pubes is the terrible curse of the Elderly Vagina. And if we allow women to proudly possess pubes, even if we don’t all go around showing them off as Ms. Ruby does here — why, what’s next? Will we also be proud of our nether hairs when they turn silver — or, in the case of us natural redheads, purest snowy white?

Oh, the horror. Female self-esteem! The HORROR.

No, no, we can’t have a woman proudly showing her pubes. Not even if she’s painted by Gustav Klimt himself.

Oh wait, that’s allowed. Klimt was a man! It’s quite all right for men to paint women in a sexual context. Those who did so a century ago to public outrage and opprobrium are now revered as Great Artists. But for another woman to do so, as Leena McCall has done? Dangerous! Why, just look at that thing. The woman isn’t passively subjecting herself (and her unshorn crotch) to the male gaze, but actively looking back out at us! And worse yet, she’s doing so with a challenging glint in her eye. A glint that is equal parts “hey, sailor” and “fuck you”. Or, if you want to get all stuffy about it, a look that says both come-hither and go-thither.

No, we can’t have a woman undressing us with her eyes, and perhaps contemptuously withering us with that same sexy gaze. It’s too much like she’s looking right through us, and finding us lacking. Lacking in courage for not being able to handle the sight of a set of female genitalia not artificially made to resemble those of a harmless, helpless newborn baby girl. Lacking in the wit to understand what we are seeing. Lacking in the visionary guts to realize that women can, and MUST, have sexual agency, the right to say yea or nay, I-want-you or I-want-you-not, as we will. Lacking, in short, the understanding that a woman is more than a body, and that she is not just some consumable object, but a person in her own right, and as much so as any man. She has will. She has desires. And why should she not have the explicit right to express all that?

Why doesn’t she, already?

Well, here’s why: We live in gormless times. We have never seen the virgin/whore dichotomy quite so polarized as it is today. Even the Victorian era has nothing on the present. On the one hand, we have every kind of porn, depicting every depraved thing people can do unto one another, with literally no holds barred (including the death-grip on the throat, usually of a woman). On the other, we have something ickier, creepier, more spiritually deadening, and more depraved still: purity balls, where fathers take on the role of surrogate husband to virginal girls, and pledge to “cover” them until they can pass them off, presumably while still virginal, to a suitable real husband. We have Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming Sandra Fluke because that shameless hussy dared to put in a good word for birth-control pills, between fistfuls of OxyContin and Viagra — and nary a word about himself jetting off to sex tours in the Dominican Republic, where child prostitutes are dirt cheap and nauseously easy to find. These guys are all running around with total impunity, ordering women to do as they say, not as they do. And, under protest, we let them. Be it in porn or in purity culture, women are both infantilized and objectified, passed around like bongs at a party, and above all, NEVER allowed to be sexual on their own terms. It is always at the whim of a man, whether a creepy photographer like Terry Richardson (and a creepy businessman like Dov Charney), or a porn director…or the “priesthood holder” of the house, dear ol’ dad himself.

That may be why Ms. Ruby is dressed in old-fashioned men’s clothing, but only halfway. And why the sight of her standing there with undone trousers and no perceptible shame is so “pornographic” and horrifying in this supposedly so much more open day and age — when all of us, if we are honest, will readily admit that we’ve seen a whole lot worse.

Compare and Contrast: Peña Nieto vs. Maduro

pena-neto-vs-maduro

Left: “He stole the Mexican elections, privatized the state oil companies, and the people repudiate him. TV and the US call him the president who saved Mexico.”

Right: “The Venezuelan people elected him democratically and he didn’t privatize the oil. TV and the US call him a dictator.”

Dear PETA: Fuck you.

peta-billboard

Dear PETA:

Thanks for another thoughtful reminder of why I can’t fucking stand you. Once again, you’ve wanked a major one all over women’s bodies.

Never mind that body weight is not a marker of obesity. Or that fat vegans most certainly do exist, and that refusing to consume animal products is no guarantee of weight loss. No, you just had to go clouding the serious health issue of Plan B’s too-low hormone dosage with a fraudulent “go vegan and get skinny!” message. In doing so, you joined all the other despicable fat-shamers who never miss an opportunity to push their agendas in inescapably sexist ways.

Of course, I expected nothing better from you. You have a well-established pattern of exploiting women at every turn. You can’t bear to see a glass of milk being poured or an egg being cracked into a pan, but you have no compunctions about caging women, carving them up like slabs of beef, wrapping them in plastic like supermarket chickens, or throwing them onto grills. And that’s when you’re not busy sexually abusing them to showcase what veganism will allegedly do for their male partners.

So I suppose I should not have been surprised that you would pounce on what is actually a story about corporate irresponsibility, and twist it to your own sadistic ends. It’s pretty obvious what your game is: “saving” the animals by throwing humans, and specifically FEMALE humans, under the bus.

And that’s when you’re not busy killing kitties and dogs to save money to put toward your outrageous ad campaigns instead. What the fuck is “ethical” about THAT?

So I guess you’ll just have to pardon me if all you’ll ever get from me is the back of both my middle fingers. Trust me, you’ve EARNED it.

Fuck you very much, PETA.

Rob Ford’s crack pipe speaks

magritte-pipe

Note: The following is a message I received from an anonymous source. I have been asked to share it my readers as a public service, in the hopes that it will serve as a warning to anyone thinking of sampling the CIA’s pretext for keeping Latin America in misery, the DEA in Latin America, the black community in the ghetto, and Gary Webb in his grave. Or something like that.

Hello. You don’t know me, so please allow me to introduce myself. I am Rob Ford’s crack pipe.

I am that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I’m the one who knows Rob Ford better than anyone, even his own wife. I’m the one who perks him up so that he can bumble, bluster, and bounce erratically all over the place, bewildering everyone with his undignified behavior and his unpredictable rages. I’m the one he strenuously denied having had relations with, from the moment Gawker first published a picture of him with a couple of young black guys who have since met some highly suspicious fates.

That picture was embarrassing, but the video that goes with it is even more so. Until recently, he denied that it existed. And with it, he denied me.

Well, no more. I have come forward to demand my rightful due. And that is that he come clean and admit that we have had a lengthy relationship, he and I. He didn’t today, as you’ve probably suspected. He claims I was just another drunken one-night stand. Something he did in a stupor.

He would say that, wouldn’t he? But he’s lying.

Nobody just smokes crack just because they’ve had too much to drink; if that were the case, the LCBO would have closed every liquor store in Toronto, so as not to let kids get their hands on that infamous gateway drug. No, he didn’t pick me up just because he’d staggered out of a bar and into a bad neighborhood. We go back way further than that. And if you’re going to talk about gateway drugs, you might want to look further into the entire Ford family’s past, as the Globe and Mail recently did.

The Brothers Ford are drug dealers, and their illicit business in Etobicoke is decades old. When they first started, it was marijuana and hashish. Pot and hash are no longer so fashionable (or so frowned on), but crack is. And it has the added benefit, from a drug dealer’s standpoint, of being highly addictive, as pot and hash are not. The come-down is harsh and desolating. Those who’ve tried crack can’t just take it or leave it; they are forever chasing their next rock. Nobody just does crack once in a while, on a lark, or in a drunken stupor. I don’t do hook-ups, honey. I’m a long-term relationship kind of gal.

That’s why my relationship with him has been so intimate, and why it’s so embarrassing. Like the toilet in the Russell Edson poem, I belong to an unfortunate association, one that he’d rather not publicly embrace. And like a toilet, he fills me with shit — literal shit that’s been carried in somebody’s ass. Fills me up, smokes me, then pretends it didn’t happen, but always comes back for more. Yeah, he’s a sick fucker.

And that’s why it mystifies me to hear all these Ford Nation types going on like he’s a good man who’s just had an unfortunate accident, or something like that. No. No, he isn’t. He’s a mayor who’s been running the city like someone on crack, which of course he is. His character is corrupted. His whole behavioral pattern is typical of a crackhead in denial. Cancelling already allocated monies and green spaces for his own pet projects, even though everything’s already been voted, budgeted, and settled. Sexist, racist, homophobic slurs and snubs in a city renowned for its tolerance and multiculturalism. Petty, petulant rages and abuses of power. Does that sound like a “good man” to you?

If it does, I have to ask what you’ve been smoking.

Oh look, another ignorant white woman has an opinion!

know-your-veils

So I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, when up pops this. Yet another ignorant white woman who is strangely offended by Muslim women just being themselves and minding their own damn business. Let’s take her argument point by point so we can see how ridiculous it is, shall we?

The niqab is a ridiculous garment, adopted by a small (but growing) number of women and rejected by many mainstream Muslims. When I see someone wearing it, I’m torn between laughing at the absurdity and irritation with the ideology it represents. In secular countries, the notion that women have to cover their faces whenever they leave the house is rightly seen as weird, and runs counter to the principle of gender equality. Many brave women in the Middle East and Asia have died for the much more important right not to cover their faces, and I have little patience with women in this country who make a mockery of that struggle by trying to pretend they’re the ones suffering oppression.

If it’s so ridiculous and so little worn, Joan, why do you care? And you obviously do, since you feel compelled to point and laugh and be “irritated with the ideology it represents”. WHAT ideology might that be, hmmm?

And what is “right” about seeing a veiled woman as weird? I see someone’s cultural biases doing the talking for her here. Now that’s an offensive ideology.

As for the “gender equality” canard: I should also note that in some North African Muslim countries, the men cover their faces and the women don’t; ever hear of the Tuareg, Joan? And anyway, most Muslim women who veil do not cover their faces; you said so yourself. So why single out the few who do?

And if you want to talk brave, I think you might want to meet Qahera, who doesn’t need your silly directives to unveil, and who rightly takes offence at ignorant westerners trying to “rescue” her from an imagined “ideology”.

Or just refer to my post about Riham Said from yesterday. She doesn’t need your ideology either.

I’m not in favour of the French approach, which is an outright ban on the niqab and the burqa; I’m not keen on banning things and it risks creating martyrs. It makes more sense to treat the face-veil as a political statement and insist on our right to make one in return.

And yet, you feel compelled to rag on how “weird” it is. And to make political statements against it. So, you’re calling for discrimination and razzing instead of an outright ban? Bravo, Joan, what a brave and rational stance to take! I’m sure that will convince everyone!

Covering the face doesn’t make anyone a better human being and the “modesty” argument doesn’t wash; if you wear outlandish clothes, whether it’s a face-veil or fancy dress, of course people will stare.

What is this, an argument for staring? Did your mother not teach you any manners? A veil isn’t a “fancy dress” costume. Not even in not-so-great Britain, anymore.

And how do you know it’s only about “modesty”? You don’t. It may in fact be a statement about nationality or tribal allegiances, not religious belief or a fear of sexual assault. Different women from different regions wear different headgear to say “this is where I come from”. More on this later.

Nor does the niqab discourage violence; evidence from Egypt suggests that veiled women are slightly more likely to suffer sexual harassment, probably because men regard them as easier targets than women in Western clothes. Does anyone seriously believe that women are safer in Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, where most women wear the veil (many of them against their will) in one form or another? Wearing the niqab or the burqa is self-defeating, exposing women and girls to more oppression rather than less.

Well, isn’t this a hot mess? I’ll gladly concede that there is no article of clothing that will ever really discourage sexual harassment, assault or violence. But the other side of this coin is that removing a veil just because it offends your delicate British sensibilities won’t make those women any safer, either. The only thing that will work is educating the men. And by that, I mean ALL men.

Plus, women in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran don’t wear niqabs. Iraq is largely secular, and the women there usually wear either a hijab (which shows the face) or no veil at all. Afghanistan? Well, the burqa (which is even more concealing than a niqab, seeing as it has a mesh panel to cover the eyes) has been in fashion ever since we in the “enlightened” west (or at least, Ronald Fucking Reagan) saw fit to help them defeat godless communism by sending in the “Arab-Afghan mujahideen”, otherwise known as al-Qaida. Before that, Afghan women tended to dress a lot more like us:

afghan-women-1970s

As for Iran, they wear the chador there; again, a veil that leaves the face uncovered. And it’s not strictly required of all women, only those who are Shia Muslim.

Oh here, have this handy guide to all the different veils worn by women you know nothing about. Maybe it will help you to stop embarrassing yourself with this ignorant blather.

Where I think the state is entitled to intervene is when a woman’s decision to cover has negative consequences on others, including her daughters; face-covering should never be a component of school uniform, let alone compulsory. Then there’s the example of a courtroom: when someone is giving evidence, she should be subject to exactly the same rules as the rest of us. Vulnerable witnesses need to have their identities protected but as a general rule the judge, jury, defence and prosecution should be able to see witnesses’ faces. I wouldn’t expect to be allowed to appear in court in a balaclava, and the public good of open justice takes precedence over demands for special treatment on religious grounds.

I fail to see what “harm” it does to cover one’s face in public, or in a court of law. Where in the rules of evidence does it say that one must be bare-faced? This “pro-equality” argument is bullshit on the face of it (pun intended).

As for the NHS, I’m aghast at the prospect of being treated by a health professional in a niqab. Patients often have to discuss intimate matters with GPs and nurse-practitioners, from sexual health to domestic violence. If someone doesn’t trust me enough to let me see her face, I’m hardly going to feel comfortable about her carrying out an intimate procedure such as a cervical smear. Nor is it easy to imagine a man discussing the symptoms of prostate cancer with a health professional whose idea of “modesty” doesn’t allow her to expose her nose.

Well, Joan, if you’re so offended by veiled doctors or nurses, don’t use the NHS, then! Take your prejudices private, if they’re so important to you. You’re making an awful lot of assumptions about the hypothetical practitioner’s motive for wearing the veil. Have you ever actually been treated by somebody wearing one? And if so, has it impaired her ability to help you in any way? If not, you have no business complaining.

At one level, it’s hard to believe we’re having this debate.

I quite agree. But since you insisted on yattering ignorantly on about it, there you go. You got yourself a debate, lady! And you’re losing to cold hard fact. Sucks to be you.

Human rights law is clear about the right to manifest religion but it isn’t an absolute right, and can be limited when it conflicts with the rights of others.

Such as…your “right” not to have someone else’s Muslim-ness visible to your virgin eyes? That’s not a right, that’s a privilege. And your column reeks of it. Get over yourself, Joan.

The demand by a small number of Muslim women to cover their faces in all circumstances clearly impacts on the rights of others, and requires a robust response.

No, it doesn’t. And no, it doesn’t.

Secularism is not about forced suppression of religion, or at least it wasn’t the last time I looked. But hey. If a piece of fabric is really so offensive, Joan, maybe you should move to Québec. They just instituted a “Charter of Values” there that has a strangely subjective definition of secularism that, I suspect, would fall right in line with yours.