news you should know about

newsmongering 06/08

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> Lesbian Syrian blogger Amina Araf, better known as the Gay Girl in Damascus, was kidnapped on Tuesday. Her writing is beautiful:

Shutting down the internet failed for them because, they realized, that by doing so they were admitting that they were losing and getting desperate. Syria is no longer a country isolated from the world and where they can do as they wish. No, when they shut down the internet, they faced the ire not just of dissidents and oppositionists but of every Syrian involved in business. The merchants who rely on credit card sales, the financiers and exporters, all of them are put up against the wall. And if the regime wants to lose its last bits of support beyond clan, tribe, and sect, those are the people they cannot alienate. They’ve succeeded in just a few short months in alienating nearly everyone else; they cannot afford any more.

They lost by being inflexible and intransigent; they lost by not realizing that times have changed. That will be their epitaph; they lost because they could not change.

> Texas governor Rick Perry, who is one of those political figures I’d be amused by if it weren’t for the fact that I can’t stand him, has called for a day of “fasting and prayer” in response to what he’s referring to as “financial debt terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters.” I’m not entirely sure what he means by “financial debt terrorism” – it sounds like one of those things that comes out of Mad Libs – but with regards to the “multitude of natural disasters,” I’ll have to refer him to this Onion article (“Planet Earth Doesn’t Know How to Make It Any Clearer It Wants Everyone to Leave”). He’s also attempting to get all 50 state governors to join him at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on August 6th for a pray-a-thon hosted by The American Family Association. Said American Family Association was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010.

The AFA claims that the “homosexual agenda” will destroy the family and possibly the world, including through Disney movies. In my own experience, the homosexual agenda tends to involve a) finishing statistics homework, b) remembering to buy milk, and c) being accepted as a human being by friends, family, and government. I had no idea everyday life could be so dangerous. (You can see the AFA’s page on Teh Gay here, including the part where they misspell “accommodate.” And alas, their FAQ’s mention nothing of their position on shrimp or mixed-blend clothing, but I’m guessing that for consistency’s sake they’d have to be against those, too. Right? Right?)

Anyway, why anyone would voluntarily be in Houston in August is beyond me (a lot of this whole thing is beyond me), but Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is apparently planning on attending, which shouldn’t surprise me but still somehow does. Hey, speaking of “financial debt terrorism,” surely whatever money this prayeraganza is going to cost could possibly be diverted into something like – off the top of my head – hiring teachers? Building roads? Social Security? Medicare? WIC? SNAP? Or practically anything else?

> Speaking of Texas, a judge in that esteemed state has voided the marriage of a widowed transgender woman. The case came about when the husband’s family sued for the death benefits the widow had received after her husband, a firefighter, died in a fire; the family argued that the marriage had never been legal because the widow had been born a man. I’ve briefly covered Texas’s crusade to screw over its trans population here; Autostraddle gets more in-depth here.

The bottom line is that the premise that the state of Texas is basing this move on is deeply disrespectful to trans people and completely inexcusable. Perry’s claim that a trans person marrying someone of the opposite sex violates the “marriage is between one man and one woman” policy is an attempt to invalidate trans people’s lives and identities; it’s a straightforward statement from the government that’s supposed to protect our rights that trans people are no better than liars or delusional, and that they therefore don’t deserve the rights that others do.

> And speaking of trans issues, polls suggest that 9/10 Americans think there’s a law protecting gay and trans people from discrimination in the workplace. Guess what: there isn’t! Studies show that between 15 and 30% of gay employees experiences some form of discrimination at work; for trans employees, it’s 90%. And they have no legal recourse.

> I’ve avoided discussing what we’re apparently calling “Weinergate” because I was a bit too peeved by every single side of the issue to make rational statements about it, but Salon has a nice summary of my sentiments here:

What makes the Anthony Weiner story somewhat unique and thus worth discussing for a moment is that, as Hendrick Hertzberg points out, the pretense of substantive relevance (which, lame though it was in prior scandals, was at least maintained) has been more or less brazenly dispensed with here.  This isn’t a case of illegal sex activity or gross hypocrisy (i.e., David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley (who built their careers on Family Values) or Eliot Spitzer (who viciously prosecuted trivial prostitution cases)).  There’s no lying under oath (Clinton) or allegedly illegal payments (Ensign, Edwards).  From what is known, none of the women claim harassment and Weiner didn’t even have actual sex with any of them.  This is just pure mucking around in the private, consensual, unquestionably legal private sexual affairs of someone for partisan gain, voyeuristic fun and the soothing fulfillment of judgmental condemnation.  And in that regard, it sets a new standard: the private sexual activities of public figures — down to the most intimate details — are now inherently newsworthy, without the need for any pretense of other relevance.

So that’s one issue I have; the second is that any hope I had of Andrew Breitbart quietly shutting up and going away is now lost. The third is general disappointment in Mr. Weiner himself. He should have known better, and I’m deeply upset that he lacked the judgement required to not be an idiot. And the fourth is a disappointment at the media and at the public over how much this is going to matter when it shouldn’t, quite frankly, matter at all. Mr. Weiner neglected to play by some fairly basic ground rules (“1. If it involves your penis, don’t.”), but the ground rules themselves are kind of stupid. As Greenwald points out above, Weiner committed (that we know of) none of the usual idiotic missteps associated with sex scandals, but the media is past the point of caring about such minutia.

> The menu of the White House’s State Dinner has been released! I am not entirely convinced that all of this is food, but it still sounds tasty. Also, the herbs and vegetables allegedly all came from the White House garden. So that’s nifty.

> The New Yorker has rewritten Longfellow to accommodate Sarah Palin’s tenuous grasp of American history. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

…You know the rest. In the books you have read
How we used our guns to make Nazis dead.
How the rebels were the braver men
And still are today like they were back then.
How we beat the British at their worst
That’s why the Second Amendment’s first…


Written by whackanarwhal

June 8, 2011 at 1:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] Rick Perry’s prayerapalooza is drawing some criticism, mostly because of that thing where he’s openly endorsing a hate group, not to mention that his “day of prayer” apparently only means Christian prayer […]

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