« March 2007 | Main | May 2007 »

14 posts from April 2007

April 26, 2007

My Daemon

From Gwenda Bond, this meme:

April 25, 2007

Sex Offenders Barred From Church

This article about churches debating whether or not to let child molesters in made me really sad.

I don't know about Judaism or Islam, but I was raised Christian (I'm not now) and the message is clear, across denominations: love your neighbor as yourself, do not judge, turn the other cheek, welcome the sinner.

Part of the reason I'm not a Christian, aside from a lack of belief in God, is that I don't have the wherewithal to practice Christianity--any form of it. I'm not able to not judge--or even to attempt it. I don't want to attempt it.

But when it comes to what freed child molesters should have a right to, going to church, if they want to, is at the top of that rather short list. Keeping them from church would be like keeping them from therapy because the therapist has other patients who aren't comfortable with being under the same roof as a child molester. It's letting your fear get in the way of someone else's attempt at redemption. How is that Christian?

See, I don't believe that raping a child is worse than raping an adult. I don't believe that raping a child is worse than murdering a person. It's different, and needs to be handled differently. All are evil acts.

I also don't believe that any generalizations about the redeemability of child molesters can be true. Some must be Hannibal Lecter types. Maybe some are driven by shriveled souls. Some are probably on an evil power trip that they might be able to get past to some degree. Some are frightened children themselves. I don't know, I can't see into their souls. But that's the problem. No one can.

I don't believe that the child, or children, these people raped and abused will be helped in any way by their exclusion from honest worship. I don't believe that potential future victims will be protected by a denial of honest, open worship from a known child molester.

I agree with the person in the article who called this hysteria. I think it is. I think people are hysterical about child molesters for three reasons. The first is that it's a relatively new crime. Previously, it was either so taboo, so unthinkable--or else so mundane and not worth mentioning in a world in which parents literally owned their children--that it was never named and no one came forward. Abusing children has only been a crime for about 100 years or so. Being new, this crime feels freshly taboo, dirtier than the age-old crimes of murder and rape.

Secondly, in the US, we are almost pathologically sentimental about childhood and insist upon the innocence of children and the childlike state. Even Europe has no J.D. Salingers, and European hipsters never slid into the infantile mode that American hipsters still employ. And I don't think it's a coincidence that Lolita is the primary masterpiece of a European transplanted to the US and commenting on the corruption of American society. Japanese infantilism is so heavily sexualized it would make Americans ... well, hysterical. What other industrialized nation keeps abstract children so on a pedestal (or pedastal?) Or what industrializing nation, for that matter?

Thirdly, in the US we're hysterical about sex. We can't heeaaaaaandle the truth. We'll show blood spraying and serial killers on children's prime time, but we won't show people tongue-kissing. So having sex with children, even sexualizing children in any way, is an affront both to our absurd dream of the innocence of childhood, and to our desire to keep sex at a distance.

And this whole child-complex afflicts liberals equally with conservatives. Both are guilty of letting their little brats run around restaurants screaming. Both ostracize Mothers Who Spank. Both conveniently forget what little monsters children can be and call bullying "teasing". The only difference is that the one group insists on saving pre-child lumps of flesh from destruction, while the other insists on putting poor kids through the daily humiliation of asking for a free lunch--oh, no, wait, the first group put a stop to that. Whew!

I think I'm particularly sensitive to this issue because I just completed and sent out a story about a woman who crosses the line with a young teenaged boy. I wrote it because I was very disturbed by a long-term disagreement with an ex-friend of mine. She's an ex-friend in large part because of this disagreement.

It centered around a discussion we had when Mary Kay Letourneau was released from prison. LeTourneau is the teacher who had a sexual relationship with her 13 year old student, was caught, wouldn't stop, and got pregnant by him. She was eventually sent to jail for seven years when she wouldn't stop seeing him.

She was released and immediately married the former student, who was now 22 and taking care of their two daughters. I was discussing this with the ex-friend, who wasn't as shocked by the situation, and the marriage, as I was. After a lengthy discussion in which I pointed out that she'd have a problem if it was a male teacher and a 13-year-old girl, she burst out that she didn't mind women taking advantage of young boys because men had been abusing women for so long that she didn't mind a woman getting some back. I was so appalled I could barely speak to her.

I was further appalled when this same friend told me that she was dating a young man who was barely legal and more than a decade younger than she, and that she had struck him when drunk, just to see how he'd react.

After I ended our friendship, her attitude--and the personal history I suspected her of having that gave rise to it--really haunted me and I ended up writing a fantasy story about a world in which men had disappeared and only women and children of both sexes were left. The women start seducing the boys. My protagonist, modeled after my ex-friend, turns out to be far more predatory than she would have imagined.

I deliberately set up a scenario that made the child abuse ambiguous, but I only ended up rendering real-world child abuse ambiguous for myself. In a discussion with a gay friend I found that older-man/younger-boy relationships (remarkably along the lines of the Greek ideal) are an open secret in the gay community and many teenaged boys seek such relationships out and are grateful for the caring sexual awakening that they receive. I can easily imagine now that some teenaged girls might also seek out such relationships and benefit from them, even though the danger of abuse is so great.

My disgust of sexual abuse of young teens--set aside young children--has not lessened, but my sense of the complexity of this issue where older children are concerned has increased. It's also affected my view of all child sexual abuse: not that it isn't wrong and horrible, but that it is textured and nuanced--that all abusers, though all criminal, are not all the same. And that, yes, they're still human beings; and that, in fact, this crime, this sin, is an explicitly human one.

What I'm saying is that child raping is horrible, but so is child beating. So is woman beating. So is woman raping. So is man beating (yes, it is) and so is man raping. So is murder of anybody. And it depresses the fuck out of me to hear Christians saying, on their home turf, that every kind of sinner can worship, but not the child molester. If there's a better definition of a sinner in need of redemption, can someone please tell me what it is?

April 22, 2007

Postimg Soooo ... Slooooow

Why have I been posting so little?

I'm working full time.

Trying to write my fiction.

Currently trying to get my submissions mess in order.

Still trying to finish an article.

Still trying to finish what really should be simple tasks for the board of the Carl Brandon Society.

And now I just agreed to be on a grants panel ... next Monday. So I have to read a buncha grants proposals.

There's something else I'm forgetting.

This is my life right now. I really want to be blogging, but I have no brainspace for it. My poor mapping blog is suffering much more because it requires more brain. Or more work. Or something. I think about writing that brief post on blah blah blah that I've been thinking about and my brain goes and hides in a closet until the feeling goes away.

Maybe I will come back from this. Maybe not so much.

April 19, 2007

New Year's Resolutions Update

I've finished two of my unfinished stories and started sending them out. I just dropped 23 packages in the mail today, each containing a copy of my predatory female #2 story.

I now officially have heath insurance!

I have picked out my new car and only have to go buy the thing.

So the tally is two and two fractions done; eleven and two fractions left to go.

And we're only half way through April. Sigh.

April 17, 2007

Oh God

... the shooter was Asian, and a foreign national. I really don't wanna see the fallout from this one.

****update*****

Even worse: He's a 1.5. Here we go ...

****update 2*****

"1.5" is between first and second generation. Among European Americans, there's the immigrant generation, and then "first generation" means the first generation to be born in the U.S. Among Asians and Latinos, it's counted differently. First generation is the immigrants. Second generation is the first generation born in the States.

So 1.5's are kids born abroad, but raised mostly or partly in the U.S. I.e., not foreigners, but not born in the U.S.A., either.

This guy is gonna get the "foreigner" treatment for sure, even though he's culturally American--at least to great extent.

****update 3*****

Rebecca at Hyphen magazine rounds up the Asian American freak-out.

April 15, 2007

Bill Cosby Breaks It Down

Apropos of the previous post on Kiri Davis' "A Girl Like Me," here's a snippet from a Bill Cosby hosted show from the 70's. Compare and contrast.

Why Don Imus' Comment Matters

If you want your heart broken, watch as 17-year-old filmmaker Kiri Davis renacts the Brown vs. Board of Education study from the Fifties in which black children were asked to pick between a white baby doll and a black baby doll. Back then, most picked the white doll. Now, guess which one most picked today?

And Don Imus is on the record, nationally, for calling black women role models "nappy-headed ho's."

Any questions?

April 11, 2007

Comments On Don Imus Debacle

  1. I take back what I've been saying about "at least blacks are no longer treated with as open contempt in the media as Asians are" blah blah. I guess it was said more in wishfulness than in truth.
  2. After an hour on Google News, I still haven't found a white commenter who thinks anything other than blacks are overreacting. They're all male. I haven't found any random white women commenting. Is every white male on the internet a privileged cracker? Is every white woman on the internet a fucking ostrich?
  3. Oh My God. Why did it take me half an hour on Google to find out about the "Jigaboo" comment? Why did that not merit attention?
  4. The white (male) commentary ranges from "You're all reverse racists this is free speech fuck you lynching Don Imus Free speech fuck you!" to (sadly, wryly) "Yeah, he shouldn'ta said it, but it's teh blacks overreacting that gives his comments meaning" (no shit. somebody actually made that argument.)
  5. Not a single white male in my search has been found to have the imagination to wonder what the Rutger's women's basketball team members feel about all this ... like maybe are they feeling hurt or insulted. It's all about Don Imus and what he does and doesn't deserve. Can it be that this all comes down to a lack of empathy? Talk about identity politics! Look who's identifying now!
  6. It took me all of five minutes to find commentary by "a black man" who thinks teh blacks are overreacting. I don't know which is worse: the possibility that the writer isn't really black, or the possibility that s/he is.
  7. I've found every possible breakdown of Imus' comments, saying that this element was offensive and the other wasn't. There was one that said that "ho" was offensive, but "nappy-headed" wasn't. There was one that said that "nappy-headed" was the offending remark. There was one that said that if the comment had been made about, say, that nappy-headed ho Foxy Brown, instead of those fine, upstanding Rutgers wimmin, then no one would have said anything because, let's be honest, she is a nappy-headed ho. There was one that said that the use of "Jigaboo", which the commenter apparently only knew from Do The Right Thing, made the whole radio exchange a grand allusion to Spike Lee, and not a racist insult at all. All of these comments tried to do away with the offensiveness of the whole by placing it "into context" as if there was any context in which two white men talking about a largely black women's basketball team's looks using the terms "nappy-headed ho's" and "Jigaboos vs. Wannabes" might not be offensive.
  8. Let me break it down for you again:
    • "nappy-headed": no, whites don't get to use it. It's insulting: it's too familiar, it's too racist. And no, you don't get to be arbiter of what teh blacks get to say to each other. Buleeve me, if you bothered to read anything that black people write, you'd already know there's a long-standing and lively discussion of this issue. Your input is not needed.
    • "ho's": no, you don't get to say this about any women, black, white, or ignored. "Ho" is short for "whore", which is insulting slang for "prostitute" and an insult commonly used to deride women, in the belief that a woman's chastity is still important. Once again, black rappers may well be using it. Doesn't mean Don Imus gets to. See above. Plus, who says black rappers get to use it with impunity?
    • "jigaboo": also not okay. No, it's not from Spike Lee. It's an old school racist term on par with the "n-word", only never used as much. There is no universe in which it is not offensive.
    • "context": here's the context, folks. The Rutgers women's basketball team was news because they had just lost a championship game. Imus and pal decided it was appropriate to discuss both the Rutgers players' and their opponents' looks, because they are womenz. They pronounced the Rutgers team "rough-looking" (i.e. not good looking) and backed it up by saying they had tatoos and were "nappy-headed ho's" and "jigaboos". Spot the "ism"! This is racist, sexist, and entirely off topic. There is no way you can tweak this context to make it okay.
  9. How long, sweet Jesus, must we sing this song?

(cross-posted at Other Magazine staff blog.)

April 08, 2007

Hanged

Just lettin' off a peeve:

The increasingly annoying "pun" being made with the word "hung" is grammatically incorrect. (I'm talking about the book on black male image called Hung and the t-shirt with the picture of John Brown that says "hung" on it. Both play with the term "well hung" and the image of someone lynched or executed.)

Hate to rain on the punrade, but the past tense of "to hang," as in to string someone up by the neck, is "hanged."

The man was hanged, the picture was hung. Two distinct words. Bummer, eh?

Check out this resource, too. Strunkalicious.

April 07, 2007

Modern Day Indentured Servitude

Shailja brought up an issue when she commented on my post about redeploying injured servicemen and women:

Well, as we all know, military recruitment is at an all-time low. The army is beating the bushes for bodies to throw into the Gulf. There have been several articles exposing how army recruiters are signing up kids who don't meet physical and health requirements, telling them to lie about conditions that would disqualify them, encouraging them to throw away their meds.....

Once they've gone to all that trouble to capture them, you don't think they're gonna relinquish them to a few itty-bitty injuries, do you?

The closest analogy I can think of to military service is indentured, or bonded, labor. Which, as I'm hardly the first to point out, is actually modern-day slavery. Slaves don't get to quit when they get injured either.

This is one of those class issues that is impossibly complex. I remember back in 2003 or so I went to a gala for Youth Speaks. As is the custom, they had invited community folks at the last minute to fill up still-empty seats.

I was sitting with a friend during their program when one of the instructors talked about a client of the org, a kid who had just signed up in the army and was going to Iraq. The instructor asked for a hand for the kid and the applause was sparse and extremely unenthusiastic.

I looked around and the audience members who were refusing to clap were mostly white men, middle aged or so, and dressed and held like people of means. I.e.: middle, upper-middle, and upper class. It was really a toss-up whether or not they understood how much their liberal anti-war stance was in tension with the number of opportunities available to low-income teens to rise in the world--or merely to become self-sufficient.

I saw all this, but I also was uncomfortable making a public show of support for a kid who chose to go abroad and kill civilians. Later, during our event post-mortem, my friend, who is from a working class background, thought that I should be more supportive. On his side, he was only thinking about the individual kid and how the kid's best option--in the absence of any colleges beating down his door with full-ride scholarships--might well be the military.

I pointed out that all the upper-middle class protesting in the world wasn't going to do any good if the working class were willing to fight the wars. The "protest class" always gets ignored until they start taking the military class's dinner away. It's easy for someone from privilege, like me, to assign sacrifice to someone from no privilege. But the fact remains that, for this war to end, someone is going to have to sacrifice the advantages the military offers. And, as unfair as it is, that someone will never be me.

So the way the situation is worsening, and the way the Bush administration keeps making politically suicidal decisions about military personnel benefits and treatment, basically they've rendered this impossibly complex issue much less complex, or impossible. For those who have a chance to think about it, the military is no longer an attractive or beneficial option: a near certainty of being deployed to Iraq, a near-certainty of sustaining severe injury and/or severe mental health issues if deployed to Iraq, a very high incidence of rape and sexual harrassment for servicewomen, a near certainty of being redeployed beyond one's term of service, a strong possibility of being redeployed even if injured, a serious reduction of benefits and pay while in service and almost no benefits or healthcare for veterans ... seriously, what the hell does Bush think is going to attract people to sign up?

And now they're recruiting prisoners? That'll make the military more popular.

Of course, recruits and potential recruits are still the losers. Potential recruits are losing possibly their only "way out" of poverty into a skills-building job. And recruits ... well gods help 'em. Maybe after the next election we can do something about what's happening to the military. But for now, two more years of Hell awaits servicemen and women, and maybe a lifetime of Hell afterwards, for their traumatized selves, and for their families, who are at a radically increased risk of domestic abuse.

I'm not (entirely) ashamed to admit that in the past I've accepted the fact that the security we enjoy at home and abroad is owing to the power of our military. But we crossed the line into unacceptable territory years ago. When even our own soldiers are getting no real benefits from being proxy bullies and thugs, even conservative hawks have to admit it's time to dial down the war machine a little bit.

April 06, 2007

A Fat Rant

Wow. I love this. It applies to so many things, too!

Via Shrub.com.

April 03, 2007

White Ethnicity Redux

O-tay.

I realized, while I was writing the preceding post about white ethnic blogging, that I've been unconsciously supporting the whole white ethnic blogging as default blogging thing. You see, I have "asian american" as a topic category on my blog, but not "white". And guess what? I'm both Asian American and white.

But because white is default, my only "ethnicity" is Asian, right?

Well, not anymore. I've added a "white" topic category to my blog and will be tagging posts that deal specifically with my white issues or my white ethnic perspective from now on.

It'll be interesting to see if I ever use this tag. I've been thinking of myself as a person of color for so long--and been treated as such for so long--that I don't know if I can think of my perspective as white. But for years I've been saying that I'm not a new category--a multiracial--but rather both Asian and white, whole and complete in both.

That turns out to not actually be true. I'm not whole and complete in being white, and don't know if I can be. We'll see. Experiment begins ... now!

April 02, 2007

White Blogging As Ethnic Blogging

There are a number of blogs, which shall remain nameless, that I have quit reading in the last year or so. I quit them (I do know how to quit you!) because they were so damned white.

What I mean is that the blogger/s were white, but the blogs didn't acknowledge this in any way. The blogs themselves were grandly themed and very popular, and purported--either explicitly or implicitly--to represent the ethnically non-differentiated world of that particular theme. And yet all the people they talked about, all the bloggers they linked to, all the issues discussed, were white, white and white.

Sure, of course they'd occasionally find something from a person of color or from another country, but days, weeks, occasionally even months would go by without this happening. The blogs were clearly by and about whites. That wasn't what disgusted me, though. What disgusted me was that the blogs were sincerely and truly not just for whites. I'm sure the bloggers hoped and dreamed (once a year, or maybe decade) that nonwhite people would come and read their blogs too. They sincerely thought that they were pursuing a topic rather than pursuing a white topic.

In the meantime, bloggers of color--who are always aware when they are being ethnic and when they are being general or nonethnic--have blogs which openly acknowledge the ethnicity or raciality of their points of view, and are attacked for it.

Okay, I'm not the first blogger to make this complaint, and no, it doesn't interest me anymore, either, although it still angers me. My point here is that I was reading a white friend's personal blog today, which is very popular and read and linked to by a lot of peeps in our skiffy tribe (don't think you know who I'm talking about because you don't!) and it hit me like a pile of trolls: this is an ethnic blog!

Well ... duh.

It's an ethnic blog because my friend, and all my white, blogging friends whose blogs are popular and considered a destination for a certain interest group, all of my white blogging friends who deal with "culture" and "arts and literature" and other unacknowledgedly cultural products, are doing it about, from, and for the white cultural sphere. Period.

Including poc and foreigners occasionally is nice, especially if the inclusion arises from genuine interest and admiration. But the blogs are white blogs, not just blogs. They are white book blogs, not just book blogs. They are white writing blogs, not just writing blogs. They are white blogs of interesting things, not just blogs of interesting things. They are white political blogs, not just political blogs. They are white art and film blogs, not just art and film blogs. etc. I think you get the picture.

It seems obvious now, but this is America, and the most obvious things are hidden in plain sight. George W. Bush, for example.

Now that I've had the realization, I feel differently about these white blogs. Everyone has a right--nearly a mandate, almost an imperative--to explore his or her home or group culture, to examine it, to illuminate it, to critique it. I love this about black, brown, and yellow ethnic blogs, and now I love this about white ethnic blogs as well. I no longer need them to change. I no longer have to fight down long emails to each blogger telling them how white they are and that they need to be more inclusive. They don't need to be more inclusive, any more than Cute Overload needs to blog about Iraq.

All they need to do is acknowledge that they are blogs written by white people from a white perspective about white culture. All they need to do is admit that they are white ethnic blogs.

Think that'll happen?

April 01, 2007

FarTing

FarThing Magazine has a new business model.

Join My Mailing List!