I’m sure no one has been surprised that the tactic used by George Zimmerman’s defense counsel is to try to put a murdered black minor on trial instead of the man who stalked, harassed and ultimately killed him. The entire trial has seemingly been an attempt to make us distrust the morals and credibility of the black people involved in front of a nearly all-white jury.
So it’s offensive, but not sadly consistent that Mr. Zimmerman has regularly referred to a dead kid, Trayvon Martin as “the suspect.”
Suspected of what crime? Blackness in Zimmerman’s neighborhood, but the defense is obviously hoping the jurors don’t register this prejudicial language and think about the naked racism it expresses.
I’m furious that this needs to be stated, but Trayvon Martin was not a criminal, was not a “suspect.” He was a boy who will now never know what it’s like to live as a grown man.
This week has been so packed with important, groundbreaking and openly discriminatory news that is has been overwhelming. But there is one underreported thing from the start of George Zimmerman’s trial on Monday that leaves me so angry, outraged and sad that it bears mentioning.
Many places have reported with shock that Mr. Zimmerman’s defense counsel included a knock-knock joke in his opening statements. And it was offensive bullshit, so it’s understandable that people are talking about it alongside Don West’s shitty treatment of Rachel Jeantel in an attempt to make the super white jury think she’s not worth listening to.
But what still makes me feel ill when I think about it is the assertion West made in opening statements that the murdered teenager was not actually unarmed. Dead high schooler Trayvon Martin purportedly “armed himself with a concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman’s head.”
George Zimmerman, we were told, was simply a helpful citizen who was savaged by an out-of-place black kid. He had no choice but to shoot and kill this minor. This idea makes me so angry still that I want to smash things into little pieces.
I cannot believe anyone could be so transparently dishonest to try to contort the simple concept of weaponry and being armed in such a way that no one can ever be “unarmed” because there is always something that can be claimed as a weapon, including the ground you stand on. This is not just insulting, but asks us to throw out any legal standards of proportional response. It asks us to use the self-defensive, desperate tactics of victims as an excuse for their attack or murder.
This asks the jury to ignore the vast differentials in power and physical threat that exist here. Mr. Zimmerman used his vehicle, his age, his assumed justification as a neighborhood vigilante to intimidate and frighten a young man who will now never see adulthood. He’s now using the claim of injuries after he stalked and harassed Trayvon Martin to excuse his murder.
I desperately want to be wrong, but I have strong suspicions that Mr. Zimmerman will not face conviction and prison for profiling, stalking and murdering a minor. This makes me so helplessly angry it brings tears of rage to my eyes. I want to be wrong. I want there to be justice for Trayvon.
On Monday, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert made a deeply disingenuous argument to ensure that having sex remains as shameful and risky as possible to continue a long standing history of backing up religious hang-ups with healthy sexuality with intentionally created risk.
His statements on the conservative radio show, WallBuilders:
You don’t have to force this sexuality stuff into their life at such a point. It was never intended to be that way. They’ll find out soon enough. Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody.
This got me thinking about all the things that humans have existed without for “a pretty long time” and which of these important modern developments Representative Gohmert thinks we don’t really need either. Of course, the obvious answer is that we’re only supposed to follow shitty antiquated levels of ignorance and suffering when it comes to the sex, but I’d really like to get him to own up to that.
Here’s is a extremely incomplete list just off the top of my head of things that humans as a species have done perfectly well without.
- air conditioning
- safe potable water
- modern sanitation
- safe surgical procedures
- injectable insulin
- blood transfusions
- washing machines
- formalized education
- domesticated animals
- representative government
- birth control
For the last several weeks, I’ve felt growing jealousy toward those friends and acquaintances who have had the opportunity to attend the second Women In Secularism conference. I felt that twinge of envy die back considerably watching the twitter and liveblogging reactions of surprise and disappointment when the conference kicked off with the remarks of Ron Lindsay, who is the president and CEO of the conference’s sponsoring organization, the Center for Inquiry. Now while I still wish I could have been present for those panels, in many ways I’m relieved I have not given (for my budget, considerable) funds to an organization whose highest leadership seems to fundamentally not understand the purpose of something that means so much to me.
I’d also like to extend my greatest sympathies and support to Melody Hensley, whose task in successfully managing this event has been made harder and harder by the management of her own organization. It is absolutely not her fault that this has become disastrously mismanaged, and my admiration for her dedicated work has only grown in the face of this “PR disaster” as she described it last night (can’t direct link to the comment, which is #40 on this latest doubling down by Lindsay). Ms. Hensley said,
Half of the Slymepit have shown up to support these series of blogs. These are not our supporters or donors. They are harassers and sexists.
I’m completely embarrassed. I feel betrayed that that my allies are upset and the people that wish me ill will are cheering this on. I wish we could go back in time and delete this PR disaster.
I agree. And while I’ve watched this in increasing frustration, the thought occurred to me that maybe Ron Lindsay never actually read far enough to understand what’s supposed to happen after someone with privilege shuts up long enough to listen to the experience of someone who has a better view of the social and legal deck stacking in society. In the hopes that he can learn to listen long enough for understanding, I’ll try to give him a concrete example of how this is supposed to work.
Privilege is one of those remarkably sneaky things where it’s inherently part of having privilege that it is hard to see how you are benefited and how a thousand little things create the microaggressions that wear others down every single day. It can be something as simple as not having choices created with you in mind because you are not considered the default.
A while back, Greta Christina wrote about something that drives her crazy. (Me too!) When organizers for events order merchandise, somehow it seldom seems to occur to them to order t-shirts in women’s styles for their female attendees.
Here’s where the shutting up and listening portion comes in: my spouse, after hearing about this concern, one he never would have known about had he not been receptive enough to listen and learn (the shutting up and listening part), realized he’s seen this done on a particularly egregious scale in his own professional life.
Spouse’s office has to do with programs that feed children, and so disproportionately deals with women rather than men. Far more women than men attend their conferences and training sessions. Yet every single time they’ve ordered shirts for these, events, they’ve ordered
unisex men’s t-shirts. How is it that for years, it had never occurred to anyone to order women’s style shirts for these events when they vastly comprise those they work with?
Simply put, shutting up long enough to be receptive to a criticism of Greta Christina’s, spouse has learned something he can be aware of and implement that will make one less message these women will receive in their day that men are the default and nothing can be done about it. It makes their lives slightly better and costs my spouse nothing but a moment of consideration during the planning stages of events. This isn’t about silencing. It’s about caring enough to learn how to be a better person.
Now I realize that Lindsay does not believe his opening remarks were primarily about how he fears privilege is used to silence critics. He may certainly not have intended his speech to launch Women in Secularism to tell attendees, speakers and panelists to say that asking others to check their privilege is a silencing tactic, but that is what he did.
I’ve read his prepared remarks. They open by discussing religious traditions of deliberately disempowering and silencing women, move on to telling this audience he does not welcome them because there’s too much work to do, then express concern over what kind of feminist foundation is being built in the secular movement before they get directly into criticism of the critically important concept of privilege. Your remarks are about how uncomfortable you are with how many of us use privilege as a key tool to educate and change behavior. There is a clear line of reasoning (that you yourself cite!) that links the opening statements of religious silencing tradition with the straw-stuffed explanation of privilege checking in your remarks.
Mr. Lindsay, I ask you to take this opportunity to stop, listen, reflect and learn. Stop and consider that the criticism of your remarks came from your own hosted panelists as well as attendees at at the conference while the loudest applause you are getting is coming from the very people who want to tear down the work of Women In Secularism and the dedicated efforts of those in your own organization.
Like most Americans, I am outraged that the United States Senate is procedurally broken. I’m incensed that the always dubious filibuster has been used to obstruct popular and necessary legislation. I’m beyond merely angry that the minority Republicans successfully blocked debate on a bill addressing long-overdue gun sale regulation.
But there is a world of difference in recognizing the Senate is currently broken & non-functional because it requires a super majority for normal legislating business and insisting that part of the problems creating the gridlock is the system designed to protect small states from neglect. I am not only upset that he still fails to recognize the merits of system that gives small states a meaningful voice in policies that affect them, but that he’s implicitly blaming the system that protects me as a resident of a small state for the fact that gun control just failed.
STOP DOING THIS, Ezra Klein. You’re better than this.
UPDATE: Hospital Is Fucking Lying Their Asses Off, Plus Police Abuse, Homophobia, AIDS Hysteria
I have to say I was not surprised to hear that the hospital in the Kansas City area was lying. I was surprised just how blatantly they were lying because the truth is so much more sickening and horrible than I suspected. A new interview on AMERICAblog is just utterly horrifying and heartbreaking. Please read it.
Here are some highlights.
- Gorley’s husband, Allen Mansell, although in and out of consciousness, clearly expressed his wish that his husband stay & his brother leave. As Roger Gorley was physically hit & pulled by police, Mansell attempted to hold his husband’s hand to keep him from being removed.
- The “belligerent” conduct being referred to is the outraged reaction Gorley had when Mansell’s brother challenged the spouse’s right to make medical determinations under their power of attorney. Hospital staff, despite knowing better, sided with the brother, and insisted & facilitated a violent removal of his husband over the patient’s objections.
- Police were brutal, discriminatory, unnecessarily violent and utterly cruel.
- In order to break his hold on the hospital bed & hand of his husband, police bashed at his wrists
- When they knocked him to the ground, they dislodged his glasses & hearing aids and drew blood
- Massive homophobia and AIDS stigma and ignorance
- One officer would not touch Gorley with his bare hands, even refusing to touch his own handcuffs (because they recuffed him three additional times) when they were handed back to him
- All officers acted as if there was an AIDS concern obviously because Gorley was gay, and not because of any routine reason
When I first read this, I cried. I got weepy again writing this update. These assholes are not only liars, they are brazen asshole liars who treated a gay couple like dirt.
Today we’ve learned about a man in Lee’s Summit, MO who was removed from his hospitalized husband’s bedside, handcuffed, escorted off the property and arrested because he refused to leave. There have been some conflicting reports about a restraining order*, but that much of it has not been disputed by anyone.
Since this morning, the local Fox affiliate (the ultimate first source on all the pieces I’ve seen written) has put up an update that Roger Gorley is now free to visit his husband again, but there is no detail or explanation of how & when this development occurred.
It definitely was not there when the Change.org petition to have the hospital stripped of its Medicare and Medicaid access was started. So the cynic in me is wondering whether they actually realized they did a bad thing or whether they just want people to shut up about it so they stop looking bad.
Hospital statements have been cagey about the details of how & why Gorley was removed and frankly what is reported as part of a statement to the police is in direct contradiction to how he describes what happened. What I think explains the difference is that the hospital staff probably has different rules for family and non-family visitors of patients.
According to Roger Gorley, he arrived at the hospital and found that his husband’s family was already present in the hotel room, and it was one of them that told him to leave, even though he and Allen have been in civil union for years and Gorley has power of attorney for medical issues. (What’s more, apparently that power of attorney is on file and Allen has received treatment at this facility previously so there can be no reasonable claim of ignorance one the part of hospital staff.)
The local news report says that hospital staff asked Gorley to leave because they “did not want to have any visitors to Allen’s room.” To be frank, I do not believe the hospital here and this is why:
- No mention of Allen’s family in any statements about visitors
- Allen has previously been treated here without any problems of visitation for Gorley & Allen
So yeah, I think they’re trying to cover their asses here. Especially because they keep claiming they’re totally respectful of same-sex couples and the only problem was that Gorley was “belligerent,” “disruptive” and physically resisted being removed. I won’t believe them until they answer one key question: Why was it necessary to remove a spouse from a patients’ room?
Because I do not blame Gorley one bit for causing a scene when he was told to leave by his spouse’s family. I would be belligerent and disruptive too.
I don’t think this is just some misunderstanding. I think the hospital was sorry they got caught so publicly & are covering themselves to make it go away.
*The local affiliate may have updated the story to remove reporting about issuing a restraining order, because I have seen sources linking that site as the source of a restraining order filing. The most recent public statement by the hospital was on their Facebook page claiming they never asked for or issued a restraining order.
Today someone linked* to a wonderful piece by Lindy West explaining feminism to the dude who wants to talk debate the existence of privilege and misandry. And it’s fucking wonderful.
I was sold before I hit the phrase “turd-pong” which just made my damn day. Here’s the end of the introduction:
It is nearly impossible to address problems facing women—especially problems in which men are even tangentially culpable—without comments sections devolving into cries of “misandry!” from men and replies of “misandry isn’t real” from women. Feminists are tired of this endless, fruitless turd-pong: hollow “conversation” built on willful miscommunication, bouncing back and forth, back and forth, until both sides throw up their hands and bolt. Maybe you are tired of this too. We seem to be having some very deep misunderstandings on this point, so let’s unpack it. I promise not to yell.
The rest is organized by sections.
Part One: Why Feminism Has “Fem” in the Name, or, Why Can’t We All Just Be Humanists?
Part Two: Why Claiming that Sexism Isn’t Real Is a Sexist Thing to Say
Part Three: Why People Being Shitty to You Is Not the Same as You Being Systematically Disenfranchised
Part Four: A List of “Men’s Rights” Issues That Feminism Is Already Working On
Part Five: I’m Sorry That You Are in Pain, But Please Stop Taking It Out on Women
You should read it.
* I don’t regularly read Jezebel, mostly because stuff there is problematic more often than I’m happy with, but feminists write some wonderful pieces there that I usually find through links and/or Twitter.