Jesurgislac’s Journal

February 2, 2009

Banned From Argo

Yes: banned again. This time, most unusually, not for arguing too hard that same-sex marriage is a civil right, or that safe legal abortion is an essential choice. I got drawn into a conversation on Livejournal about race, cultural appropriation, and racism, Patrick Nielsen Hayden jumped in with both feet and Teresa Nielsen Hayden jumped after him with a flamethrower.

There’s a quick recap here. More information here. A timeline of events here.

And a rather brilliant post called Laurels Wither, or, It Just Doesn’t Work That Way by Bellatrys.

(Teresa’s response to my posting these links in a comment at her journal: “Jesurgislac, my only remaining point of curiosity about you is why I didn’t ban you earlier.”

I’m impressed: I normally only get banned for making comments with information the owner of the blog/journal does not wish people to read, at blogs which either (a) are rigidly anti-choice or (b) rigidly against same-sex couples having the right to marriage.)


If the following makes no sense to you, don’t worry about it; I fitted in as many injokes as I could. Potentially NSFW due to one use of a word that, while technically no more obscene than “dick”, is usually regarded as far more offensive.

Banned From TNH

When we pulled into TNH to talk of race and such
The fans set out investigating every little touch
We had high expectations of her hospitality
But found too late she isn’t geared for nithlings such as we
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July 22, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: the Porridge Testimony

“Our principle is, and our practices have always been, to seek good Scottish oats and make porridge; to follow after rolled oats and abhor the steel-cut; seeking the good breakfast and doing that which tends to the porridge of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from being denied breakfast, and so porridge avoids the occasion of war. The occasion of war, and war itself (wherein envious people who ate not porridge lust, kill, and desire to have men’s lives or breakfasts) ariseth from frustrated hunger. All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fightings with pans and recipes, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world.
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June 18, 2008

Why do people get so panicky about falling birthrates?

There are two short answers to that: racism and sexism.

The sexism part is fairly obvious: the anti-choicers (who hate the idea of women getting to decide whether we have children, how many children, and when to have children) see in a “falling birthrate” that a significant proportion of women in a country who have become uppity. (Anti-choice women seem to have achieved the far-from-unusual hypocrisy of thinking that all other women have become too uppity to have all the children they should want to have. (As David P. Barash (via Pandagon)points out in the LA Times op-ed pages recently, humans are evolutionarily inclined to eat when we feel hungry, drink when we feel thirsty, and have sex when we feel horny. We are also inclined to take care of and feel protective of babies when they arrive, but this is a separate bit of programming from wanting to have sex.)

The racism part ought to be just as obvious. The human species is in no danger of becoming extinct. None at all. There are over 6 billion humans worldwide: while it’s possible that a human-created catastrophe could end up wiping out our entire species, in plain fact, a species with as large a breeding pool as ours and as a wide range, is not in any danger of extinction short of a human-created catastrophe such as a nuclear war.

What several people have argued (most recently, I had this argument on Family Scholars Blog [before I was banned] but it’s a standard right-wing anti-choice Thing) is that there’s a problem with demographics – that countries where women are both educated and independent enough to be able to decide for ourselves how many children we want to have and when (and which are usually countries with a good enough health care system that all the children a woman decides to have will most likely survive to adulthood – this is not coincidental) are countries with an aging population, where “soon” there will be too many people too old to work and too few younger people to support them.

One may then – logically enough – point out that immigration generally solves that problem. It’s not as if there’s a real shortage of human beings: if there’s any country in the world which really is having trouble because there’s too many old people and not enough young people, it’s because that country has managed to block off most legal and all illegal immigration. (Needless to say, I do not believe there is such a country, nor ever will be.)

Then your average racist Christian right-winger (I mean that as a compound: Christians who are neither right-wing nor racist, and right-wingers who are not Christian nor racist, should not feel included, but FSB’s right-wingers are both Christian and racist and homophobic and sexist… you can see why they banned me….) frothing gently at the mouth, will say that they want their culture to stay their culture, and it won’t if there’s mass immigration from other countries that don’t share their culture. Right now, this fear is usually ostensibly anti-Muslim. A century ago it would have been anti-Eastern European/anti-Jewish/anti-Irish, and fifty years ago it would have been anti-West Indies. It is the same racist fear, and it is unfounded every time, as one can see by looking back at previous examples.

What this fear of falling birth rates ultimately comes down to is: we want our women to have more and more of our babies. What that means to your average right-wing Christian racist is: white women should have white babies, and a white woman shouldn’t under any circumstances be allowed to abort just because she can’t afford to take care of a child: she should hand the baby over to a white (and heterosexual, and married) couple. (Egg-donation and sperm donation, however, are bad, because anything that lets a woman feel in control of reproduction is fundamentally bad: women who are in control of reproduction have fewer children.)

I got banned from FSB because the moderators objected to having homophobia identified as bigotry, or indeed identified at all: the preference of your average right-wing Christian homophobe is for their feelings about LGBT people to be regarded as normal, not as homophobia – still less to have homophobes called out as bigots. But in a sense, their homophobia is a side-effect: the real motivation behind all this twisted nonsense is a knotted-up combination of racism and sexism. Hard to pick out which comes first, which is more important to them: a riddle as unsolvable as the chicken and the egg.

But it all ties together: these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Lovely. Let’s cut it down, burn it up, and party on the ashes.

=====

This post was first published on my greatestjournal, on 13th May 2006.

June 8, 2008

Why the US is in breach of the Geneva Convention

Google orders the pages it pulls from the Internet for you to view by the number of times it is linked to. There was a time (in 2002, or earlier) where googling for “Geneva Convention” got me a set of pages I had to search through to find this page, but not any more: these days, four and a half years since the first prisoners were sent to Guantanamo Bay, google Geneva Convention (no quotes, even) and the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War comes right to the top of the first googlepage.

I first read the text of this convention back in December 2001, or whenever the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay had been announced, with much relish about how uncomfortable it was going to be (I assume the Bush administration then were playing to their base: I know I got many Americans online saying that this was nothing more than these scum deserved). Later, as Red Cross and other international protests came in, official public talk about the Guantanamo Bay prison camp changed, and made it sound more comfortable.

It’s hard to believe now – now that we know that many of the people sent to Guantanamo Bay were simply sold to the Americans for bounties, and many were turned in for a grudge – but at the time, I believed that when the US said they were sending only “the worst of the worst”, the truly dangerous, to their prison camp in Cuba, they were probably telling the truth. In December 2001, we really knew so little about the Bush administration, and I honestly did not think that they were outright lying about this, as we know now they were.

I certainly believed – until the facts started filtering out – that all of them would have been taken “on the battlefield” – that is, by US soldiers, with reasonable surety that all of them had been taking part in the hostilities. As we know now, in fact any foreigner in Afghanistan could be said to be “al-Qaeda”, and any Afghan man could be said to be a “Taliban fighter” – and the Americans who were accepting prisoners turned in by any warlord with the sense to talk the right anti-Taliban stuff wouldn’t bother to check.

I can’t remember exactly when the truth sank in. Was it when the Americans kidnapped six people from Bosnia? Or when it turned out Moazzam Begg had been kidnapped from the house where he and his family were staying in Pakistan, by the Pakistani police? It was fairly early on in 2002, anyway, that it became clear that some at least of the prisoners were not “taken on the battlefield”, and that evidence that they were terrorists or Taliban was shaky.

But it was clear from the first read-through of the Geneva Convention that the US was in breach of it, and on a fairly basic issue: the prisoners had not had their status established by a competent tribunal. At the time – December 2001 – I did assume that, if they were “the worst of the worst”, that the US would most likely muster the competent tribunals in Guantanamo Bay. But by January or February 2002, it seemed clear that the US had no immediate plans to do so.

Article 4 of the Geneva Convention specifies who may be regarded a prisoner of war. It does so in some detail. Article 5 reads, in its entirety:

The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

The US has claimed (still claims) that they doubt that their prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are covered by Article 4. Where the US is in breach of the Geneva Convention, is that at no time did they determine the status of those prisoners by a competent tribunal before removing their rights under the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. But that’s what the Geneva Convention says they must do, plain as print.

When I first pointed this out – over five and a half years ago – I got a succession of protests from Americans (and others, but mostly Americans) that their country couldn’t possibly be in breach of the Geneva Convention. The protests were originally quite varied, but have in time settled down to one straightforward argument:

Article 5 only says “should any doubt arise”. It doesn’t say what should happen if the detaining power is certain that the prisoners don’t belong under Article 4.

Remarkably, that argument has stayed consistent over the five years during which we have all seen what happens if the detaining power is so certain of its ability to decide, without doubt or justice, that a prisoner doesn’t deserve the protection of the Geneva Convention: the number of prisoners who have had to be released because there was no evidence (mostly the citizens of countries allied to the US), and the number who ought to be released but aren’t because it’s too embarrassing for the US government to admit it has no evidence (mostly the citizens of countries who have no power to put pressure on the US to try them or release them) has risen every year.

I wrote this post on 10th September 2006 and posted it on GJ: I’ve written other posts on this issue, but I think this one is the most recent and the most succinct. Below the fold, my inspiration for writing it at the time – which turned out to be mistaken – was a post by Andy Olmsted, which I’d read and misunderstood pre-coffee, then re-read and understood post-coffee. I wanted to take this opportunity to say that Andy Olmsted was a fine person, and our loss is immeasurable.

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May 30, 2008

Feminism, the Patriarchy, and Parallel Paradigms

This post was originally published on Greatestjournal, on 4th July 2007.

Scooter Libby has been given an amnesty for perjury and obstruction of justice in the federal investigation into the leaking of a covert CIA agent’s identity to the media.

Paul Wolfowitz has lost his job as President of the World Bank because he broke the rules about not getting involved with subordinates and not doing financial/job-related favours based on personal involvement.

I’m no supporter of the World Bank, nor do I have any fondness for the CIA. I’d never work for either institution (and neither institution would be likely to hire me!), and I don’t much care for the kind of people who do.

The feminist revolution is changing the patriarchy: eventually, we hope, there will be no more patriarchy. This is a long-term goal, and we’re doing it one manageable nibble at a time, but we are doing it. But nevertheless: there are people who perceive the world from the patriarchal paradigm, and people who perceive the world from the feminist paradigm, and you know which paradigm owns more of the media, and which paradigm most politicians live in.

It’s a meme among defenders of Scooter Libby that his being sentenced to jail was unjust because, though he did commit perjury in the course of an investigation, there was no underlying crime. That is, leaking Valerie Plame’s identity to the media was not a crime, because Plame wasn’t a covert CIA agent as defined by the relevant legislation. We could have guessed that this was not so just looking at how seriously the CIA, the US Department of Justice, and the White House, reacted: President Bush actually said (and later, retracted) that anyone involved with the leak would no longer work for his administration. But, since Libby was convicted, it has been officially and publicly stated: Plame was covert, and because she had worked overseas between 1998 and 2003, she was covered by the statute that made knowingly leaking her identity an act of treason. (In an aside, though, it’s apparently a difficult statute to prosecute, because the prosecutor has to show that not only was the agent covered by statute, the person who leaked the agent’s identity knew the agent was covert when they leaked: and it seems likely Libby didn’t know, though Cheney, whom Libby was shielding, probably did.)

So why are people as high-profile as Milt Romney and Fred Thompson publicly saying that Plame wasn’t covert so there was no crime?

It’s not even a good defense: it’s false, it’s publicly known to be false, and it’s publicly known that they know it’s false.

But they can tell themselves it’s true and believe it, and assume others will believe it too, because they live inside the patriarchal paradigm.

Valerie Plame had been married for several years to Joseph Wilson. They had two children, and Plame moved in social circles in Washington and elsewhere as Ambassador Wilson’s wife. When her identity was leaked in summer 2003, the first assumption was that the leakers at the White House were punishing her husband – a kind of Washingtonian honour killing – because he had recently written an op-ed for the New York Times explicitly saying that Bush had made claims Wilson knew to be false in his State of the Union speech in January 2003. Any discussion of the White House’s leak has always turned, soon or late, to traduce Joseph Wilson. (As it turned out, the White House might have had good reason to want to silence Plame on her own account: she was investigating WMD in the Middle East at the time the White House leak ended her career.)

Inside the patriarchal paradigm, Plame could not be a covert CIA agent doing important work, because she’s a married woman with children, whose husband is an important man in his own right: his wife cannot have an identity and a career separate from his. She has, in the patriarchal paradigm, tied her fortune and her honour to her husband, and if her husband does something as politically radical as telling the world the President lied in the State of the Union speech, and she suffers for it, well, the only question that need be asked is: Did her husband deserve it? And, the notion that it would matter if a wife’s career is ended, if she is still married to her husband and the father of her children: that’s just outside the paradigm. Therefore, leaking her identity was not a crime.

The other instance, much less well known and much less clear-cut, is what happened to Shaha Riza.

She joined the World Bank in 1997. Sometime after she moved to Washington, she got involved with Paul Wolfowitz, who was then Deputy Secretary of Defense. She had been acting manager for external affairs and outreach for the World Bank’s MENA region for nearly three years, and was shortlisted to become the permanent manager for external affairs and outreach for that region in 2005.

Then Bush offered Wolfowitz the Presidency of the World Bank, and he accepted. (Traditionally, that appointment is always in the US’s gift. The World Bank is a mechanism for ensuring that undeveloped countries stay poor and undeveloped in order to keep developed countries wealthy: most of the countries whose economies are managed by the World Bank have no say at all in how the World Bank is run.) Wolfowitz claims he believed that there would be no problem wih the World Bank regulations with regard to his involvement with a regional manager for external affairs and outreach (a position about five layers below President), because he would recuse himself from any personnel decisions involving her.

The World Bank didn’t agree. Shaha Riza didn’t get the promotion: someone else did, so she was no longer even acting manager for external affairs and outreach. In a situation like that, it’s impossible to say that Riza would have been promoted if only Wolfowitz had not been President of the World Bank: but it is certain that, with Wolfowitz as President, Riza would not get promoted. Nor was this all: the Ethics Committee of the World Bank kept pointing out that the personal relationship between Shaha Riza and Paul Wolfowitz was explicitly against regulations. Either the relationship had to end, or one of them had to leave the World Bank. Shaha Riza was sent – very much against her will, apparently – to a make-work job in the State Department, where she was paid the same salary she would have been paid had she got the promotion she wanted.

When this came out, earlier this year, much was made of the issue of corruption, of Wolfowitz presuming that the rules of the World Bank couldn’t apply to him, of the large and tax-fee salary Shaha Riza had been given for doing no work. In all of these articles, Shaha Riza was rarely mentioned by name (she was “Wolfowitz’s girlfriend”), nor was her position in the World Bank named, nor was it made clear that she had had a career in the World Bank and had been justly in line for a promotion before Wolfowitz was appointed President. When Wolfowitz accepted the job of President of the World Bank, he ended her career there.

(There are reasons why this is less clear-cut than Plame case: it’s possible, though no one has said so, that Wolfowitz asked Shaha Riza if it was OK for him to accept the job before he said yes to Bush, and she said yes because, like Wolfowitz, she assumed the rules didn’t apply to her. Possible. It’s even possible that she thought Wolfowitz ought to be President of the World Bank and encouraged him to ask Bush to give him the job. There are a whole range of tangled possibilities here. I’m inclined to think that what happened was that Wolfowitz was offered the job and he said yes without thinking twice about what this would mean for Riza, but I don’t think anyone has said how Bush came to think of Wolfowitz for the job.)

There was a simple way to avoid all this. It would have been for Wolfowitz, with or without consultation with Shaha Riza, to say no, he couldn’t take the Presidency of the World Bank, because his girlfriend already worked there and doing so would destroy her career.

But that would have put Wolfowitz outside the patriarchal paradigm. He would have been saying that “his girlfriend” had a career exactly as important as his own.

There are various ways to criticise what Wolfowitz and Riza did inside the patriarchal paradigm: he should have asked Shaha Riza to resign: she herself should have resigned rather than accept the State Department job: all of which accept, implicitly, that Paul Wolfowitz’s career is more important than Shaha Riza’s, that the World Bank owed less loyalty and respect to an employee who had worked for them for 8 years than they did to a political appointee who had been put in charge that year.

On the edge of the patriarchal paradigm, because it still puts responsibility on Shaha Riza: she could have broken up with Wolfowitz as soon as she knew he had accepted the World Bank Presidency. On the edge, because it means she would have put her career above her relationship with Wolfowitz: it would have had (I would think) to be a real breakup, in which she neither saw him nor spoke to him except on World Bank business. At that, she still probably wouldn’t have got the promotion she wanted, but she could probably have gone on working for the World Bank, if Wolfowitz had respected the break-up.

I don’t know why Riza didn’t do that. Again, there are a whole tangle of obscure possibilities, ranging from her loving Wolfowitz and feeling so committed to him that she could not bring herself to break up with him, to her believing Wolfowitz when he said that his being her boss wouldn’t matter: he could fix it and the regulations wouldn’t affect them. I imagine, though, that it was really a whole tangle of most or all of the following: love, fondness, respect for Wolfowitz’s career and a desire to see him succeed, not believing in herself the same way she believed in him, not quite looking at the situation clearly because a clear look said that either she left the World Bank or she left Wolfowitz and she didn’t want to do either; and finally, when she was moved over to the State Department, hanging on because she couldn’t believe it could get worse: because if she sat tight and didn’t complain she might just get her old job at the World Bank back when Wolfowitz was no longer President or when he managed to “fix” the regulations that said she couldn’t work there if he did. In those circumstances, sitting over at the State Department in what must have become clear was a purely makework job, I suppose, it might have become unthinkable to break with Wolfowitz: she had already lost her job because of him, and he may have seemed a reassurance and comfort, as well as the only route back to the work she’d enjoyed at the World Bank. It’s easy to look at an abusive relationship from the outside and say “No, wait, at this point you should have known he had no respect for you and left”: but very hard to see it that way from the inside.

Especially when the lack of respect that Wolfowitz was so conspicuously showing was respect that he wasn’t expected, inside the patriarchal paradign, to have to give. In the patriarchal paradigm, Shaha Riza was Wolfowitz’s mistress: he was a wealthy and influential man who had provided a woman with whom he was having sex outside marriage with a job that gave her no real responsibilities but lots of money. In this paradigm, Wolfowitz is corrupt, because the money wasn’t his – and because there’s a strong implication of sex for money. In this paradigm what matters most is that Wolfowitz has used the World Bank’s money inappropriately, corruptly, to give his mistress a cushy well-paid job: that Wolfowitz has made the World Bank look bad.

If Paul Wolfowitz had also been a career World Bank employee who had been promoted to a position over Shaha Riza, it would have been a straightforward example of “my career or yours?”. But it wasn’t even that: Wolfowitz’s real career is being a Republican insider. Accepting the job at the World Bank was a useful step in that career, but he could have refused it with no more than a hiccup. (I guess. I find it hard to believe someone as well-connected as Paul Wolfowitz would have suffered very much from turning down a job he was offered, even if he was very strongly offered it and even if his reasons for refusing were so far outside the patriarchal paradigm.) But from within the patriarchal paradigm, a man refusing a plum job because it would damage his mistress’s career is just… unthinkable.

When feminists talk about the patriarchy, individual men often react as if they’re being personally attacked. They say things like “Not all men are like this!” or “Men do bad things to other men, too!” But “the patriarchy” isn’t “all men”: it isn’t “non-feminists”. The patriarchy is a paradigm. Feminism is a parallel paradigm. Part of the reaction against defining and referring to the patriarchy is a simple misunderstanding about what a paradigm is: partly because changing paradigms is a hard thing to do, and it’s easier to pretend that when feminists say “This is because of the patriarchy” they are really saying “This is because all men are evil”, because the claim that “all men are evil” can be refuted, and further, feminists can then be attacked viciously for being man-haters who think all men are evil. This is much easier, and much more fun, than considering the possibility that the paradigm that you take for granted, the patriarchy, is fundamentally wrong: that this paradigm twists and distorts your perceptions, makes it impossible for a person to see that it’s absurd to claim Valerie Plame wasn’t covert in the teeth of all the evidence, that it was fundamentally wrong of Paul Wolfowitz to have accepted the job of President of the World Bank. This isn’t just about party politics, though of course it plays a role: this is about the idea, radical and revolutionary in the patriarchal paradigm, central to the feminist paradigm, that women, as well as men, are human beings.

April 24, 2008

Goodbye, Ferret Face!

Suddenly it’s all over the net: The Ferrett, who blogs at livejournal, has written a couple of skeevy posts about how he regards women’s bodies as “open source” and wants other fans to regard women’s bodies that way too. (Links roundup here.)

The guy’s name is familiar, and his face is more than familiar: this is the guy who came up with the rapist’s credo three years ago. He wrote a couple of repellent posts on how when a man pestered a woman into sex, he blamed the woman for her behavior: The Correlary, Which I Cannot Spell Without A Spell-Checker, which was a follow-up to Do-Be-Do-Me-Do.

In this thread specifically, he defends this:

The Ferrett: * – Unfortunately, I can’t decry the process of “asking repeatedly,” mainly because it’s the only stimuli a lot of women respond to.”

Responder: “I can. If they say no, why not take it at face value? This, in turn, trains THEM not to say no if they mean “try harder”. And it’s taking some responsibility for yourself rather than putting the burden on someone else.”

The Ferrett: If it gets them what they want, then I can’t blame them for using an efficient system.

This was discussed at some length on my journal then: a commenter who identified herself as his wife showed up to defend him.

So when he talks about standing round at conventions groping women’s breasts being all empowering and healing, but claims

Second: When I say, “Like any good project, you need access control, because there are loutish men and women who just Don’t Get It,” I am not referring to the women who don’t want to be involved, who are perfectly cool, but rather the guys/gals who see a green button and assume that it means that the woman has to let herself be touched because she’s got the green on. [As I said, the answer "no" is something that can be given and should be respected - it's not like a button should force you to give up your right to a body.] Or decide to spend a good five minutes in a mouth-breathing grope. Those kinds of idiots are the folks who we’re worried about, and if I could change any one sentence it would be that one, because I never meant to imply there was anything wrong with someone who didn’t want to be involved. There isn’t.

…bear in mind this is the same man who, three years earlier, argued that he couldn’t “decry” a man pestering a woman until she gave in, because this was an “efficient system”: (link) It’s sort of like the way some people consider it rude to call to find out if the company got your resume and to ask if you’ll get an interview. It may well be rude, but sometimes it gets you a job.

March 14, 2008

DOMA and the anti-marriage amendment, or; the problem with repealing Article IV of the Constitution

(This was originally published on Livejournal, 24th April 2006.)

Sooner or later, this will happen.

Albert and Brad get married in Canada. Brad is a US citizen with Landed Immigrant status in Canada. Albert and Brad adopt three kids (Ellen, Fergus, and Gloria) and run a business together: they have a structure of financial planning to support each of them and their children after the other one’s death, including pension plans, mutual survivor wills, life insurance.

Brad travels a lot for their business. Brad spent a lot of time in Virginia, setting up a branch office there. He had an affair with Caitlin, and married her: Caitlin and Brad have a child, Deirdre.

This marriage is legal (as far as Brad can find out from the Internet – he really doesn’t want to ask a lawyer) in the state of Virginia, which explicitly does not recognize any same-sex relationship in any way. It may be legal in the US, thanks to DOMA. It makes Brad a bigamist in Canada, but after all, he didn’t marry Caitlin in Canada. Caitlin knows Brad has to travel a lot for his job: Albert is appreciative that Brad does the long trips to Virginia without complaint.

Brad dies.

As far as Caitlin knows, Brad never made a will: but according to Virginian law, as his spouse, she inherits from him anyway.

According to the law in Canada, however, Brad’s marriage to her is invalid: she gets nothing.

Albert – once he recovers from discovering that Brad was a faithless lying scumbag who was leading a double life – is moderately inclined to let Caitlin have something, and his lawyer advises him that Deirdre, as Brad’s daughter, is probably entitled to be treated equally with Ellen, Fergus, and Gloria. However, under no circumstances is he prepared to let a stranger inherit Brad’s half of their business: their financial planning was all based around him and Brad controlling and running this business together.

Caitlin, discovering that under US and Virginian law she could be entitled to millions if she inherits everything Brad owned, is not inclined to settle: especially as (her lawyer tells her) she has a rock-solid case as Brad’s only legal spouse. She’s freaked to discover that Brad was a faithless lying scumbag who was leading a double life with a man, but cannot believe that any court would recognise Brad’s “gay marriage” as equal to his real marriage to her. She’s not about to acccept the “something” Albert offers: she wants what she’s legally entitled to, and she wants Deirdre to inherit Brad’s half of the business, not take a quarter-share after Albert dies.

That’s the situation. The Canadian courts are on Albert’s side; the US courts are required by DOMA (and, if Bush’s base get their way, the anti-marriage Amendment) to be on Caitlin’s side. The business is based in Canada, but has branches&c in the US.

If Albert were Alberta, Caitlin would have no case. If DOMA hadn’t partially repealed Article 4 of the Constitution, Caitlin would have no case. If the anti-marriage amendment is passed, Caitlin theoretically has a Constitutional case – but the Canadian courts have no reason to bow to the US. Does the US Supreme Court repeal DOMA, or offend Canada, or refuse to hear the case?

Sooner or later, this will happen.

March 11, 2008

Eason Jordan: what’s the real scandal?

I originally posted this on my livejournal, 22nd February 2005. There’s a contemporary comment thread there, which I cannot figure out how to import over here.

At the 2005 World Economic Forum, held in Davos, CNN’s chief
news executive Eason Jordan said something in answer to a question. Precisely what he said is unknown, since the WEF is held under the Chatham House Rule: “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” No tapes of any session held under the Chatham House Rule can be released, either video or audio.

Eason Jordan was just back from Iraq. A blogger (Rony Abovitz) present at one of the discussions, either ignorant of the Chatham House Rule or deliberately breaking it, wrote: “During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.”

Eason Jordan had already been the target of a right-wing blogmobbing in April 2003, after an Op-Ed he wrote for the New York Times was distorted and used to smear him. It’s not surprising that he resigned when it was clear this off-the-cuff comment at what should have been an off-the-record meeting was going to be used as fuel for another blogmobbing.

Arguments have blazed up over whether the real scandal is what Eason Jordan said, or what happened to him as a result (though curiously enough, I’ve seen no one arguing that the real scandal is that Rony Abovitz egregiously broke the Chatham House Rule and, quite possibly, the organisers of the WEF and other such groups will consider banning amateurs who can’t keep the rule from such meetings in future). A few people have pointed out (Jeanne at Body and Soul for one) that the real scandal is that US soldiers have been killing journalists in Iraq – and no one in the American MSM seems to care very much.

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March 9, 2008

Yes, torture is BOTH unacceptably cruel and completely pointless, why do you ask?

Supposing that, through the blogosphere, the following argument regularly surfaced:

Since invisibility would be a godsend to US forces, and since it’s known that if you put a living black cat in boiling water until the flesh is boiled off its bones, one of those bones will, if held in a person’s mouth, render that person invisible, it’s only sensible to keep boiling black cats alive until there are enough of those bones to make it possible for any US battalion to become invisible.

Clearly, boiling a cat to death is a horrifyingly cruel thing to do.

Equally clearly it is completely pointless, since there is no such thing as a magic bone of invisibility.

Yet, we read news reports all the time of US military confiscating cats, keeping the pure black cats, and no one ever sees them again. There exists video and photographic evidence that US soldiers have thrown living black cats into huge pots of boiling water. And here is this person, persistently arguing that it’s only sensible to keep doing this because invisibility would be so useful, don’t you care about US soldiers more than you do a bunch of cats?

Now, if I argue – as I would – that I oppose taking cats and boiling them alive: that this is unacceptable under any circumstances (even supposing a person were starving hungry enough to eat a cat, they could kill the cat before boiling the meat…): that I see this as objectionable and disgraceful behavior -

- I would also point out that it’s completely pointless, since no matter how many black cats they boil to death, they’ll never find even one magic bone of invisibility, and therefore arguing how useful invisibility would be is futile.

Exactly so with torturing prisoners for information.

(Posted originally on Slacktivist – LB: Buck’s New Friends.)

February 16, 2004

Why gay people should NOT be allowed to get married

As I should have made clearer, when I first posted this list on my journal on 16th February 2004, I’m not the author of this list: it was invented by GatorGSA as a Valentine’s Day project. I just picked it up on the Internet. I think it’s brilliant.

That’s the Gator Gay Straight Alliance of the University of Florida.

12 reasons why gay people should not be allowed to get married

1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control. (You just imagined the penguins. Anyway, penguins are unnatural: they’re birds, they fly underwater. Nuff said.)

2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can’t legally get married because the world needs more children.

3. Obviously, gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if Gay marriage is allowed, since Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.

5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are property, blacks can’t marry whites, and divorce is illegal.

6. Gay marriage should be decided by people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.

7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire counrty. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

10. Children can never suceed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why single parents are forbidden to raise children.

11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven’t adapted to things like cars or longer lifespans.

12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a “seperate but equal” institution is always constitutional. Seperate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as seperate marriages for gays and lesbians will.

An eyewitness account of last weekend’s historic weddings in San Francisco, and some great photographs.

Another account of a marriage, and of how anti-marriage bigots were dumbfounded by the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. “Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just”…

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