Jesurgislac’s Journal

April 27, 2008

I Aten’t Dead

Filed under: Uncategorized — jesurgislac @ 8:04 pm

I am, however, planning to be Away From The Internet for a while.

Busy, busy, busy.

Then going to Germany.

Busy, busy, busy.

Then… well, I’m looking forward to June.

Catch you on the flipside!

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.

April 15, 2008

Who has “betrayed their mission”?

Inspired by Melissa McEwan’s post here on the film about rape in the Congo. The post and the film are good, bu there’s a big silence around the Congolese government’s stance on women’s reproductive rights. Abortion is illegal in the Congo, and health care following illegal abortion is frequently denied.

Amnesty’s international council voted in August 2006 to end the organisation’s former policy of “neutrality” on abortion in favor of supporting access to the procedure for women who have been raped, or whose health will be damaged if they are not allowed to terminate: and to decriminalize abortion so that a woman who has an abortion won’t be prosecuted for it: and to support access to post-abortion healthcare for women who get abortions in countries where they’re illegal. The change was address issues including the widespread use of rape in war zones like the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since then, eight schools in Northern Ireland have closed or suspended their Amnesty groups and more than two thousand Catholic schools in England and Wales were also – in autumn 2007 – advised to sever their links with Amnesty, following instructions from their bishops. November 2007

Amnesty groups in UK schools write to prisoners of conscience in countries round the world. The adult responsible for the group will usually choose a country or a specific prisoner for the group to write to. These bishops evidently feel that Matthew 25:40-45 is one of those awkward bits of the Bible that Jesus didn’t really mean.

What Jesus really wanted, these bishops think, was for Christians to listen to these stories and wash their hands:

F: That day we were coming from Bukavu. When we reached N., some soldiers stopped the vehicle and made us get out. When soldiers stop vehicles like that, it’s to rob the passengers, but they often take the opportunity to rape the women too. I was with five other women, and we were all raped, there at the side of the road. Then they gathered us together again and told us that they were taking us to their commander. So, like that, we were led off to their camp in the forest. Since there were six of us, when we were presented to the commander, he made the first choice of which woman he would take. Then the other officers made their choice: each officer took a woman. When it’s the commander who chose you, the others can’t touch you. But when he’s had enough of you, he hands you on to others to rape you.

E: One day I went to the fields to gather some manioc leaves. I saw a man dressed in camouflage, the uniform that soldiers wear. That man chased after us. We ran away, but I fell and he raped me. … There were two other girls with me. … I fell over. I cried out and my friends ran off. No-one came to help me. … He hurt me. It was bad. … After he’d raped me he left me there. I got up and went back home. … I’ve only got my mum. My father isn’t with us anymore. … During the war my father fled. He hasn’t come back. …
My mother asked me, “Why didn’t you bring back the vegetables?” I burst out crying and I told her what had happened. Afterwards she said, “Come on, we’re going to see the doctor”. … The doctor said that since this man had raped me, I was no longer normal like the other girls.

Aid worker:

We listen to the women, try to help them psychologically, help them to get medical care, and we try to give them a small amount of money, because typically the soldiers who rape the women will also take everything they own, even down to their clothes and cooking pots. And many women have been rejected by their husbands and are left on their own to look after the children, to find shelter and food for them. Many of the children are badly undernourished. So we try to give them something, when we have it, so they can start up again on their own: a small amount so they can buy and sell food at the markets and make a little profit, or some seed or a hoe.

But there are many problems. Even though they say the war is over, I can tell you it is still here. There are many villages where the women are not assisted, are abandoned to themselves. And the women are scared. Our own workers receive threats too. Two weeks ago, as I was on my way to K., I was threatened by three soldiers who said that we exaggerate the rapes and tried to take the documents I was carrying. They are worried that we are divulging all their secrets. We are regularly called in for questioning. We don’t keep our files here. We send them to G., for security.

From Catholic News:

Kate Gilmore, exec of AI: “Amnesty International’s position is not for abortion as a right but for women’s human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations.”

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:

To selectively justify abortion, even in the cases of rape, is to define the innocent child within the womb as an enemy, a ‘thing’ that must be destroyed. How can we say that killing a child in some cases is good and in other cases it is evil?

I believe that, if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, AI has betrayed its mission.

Who has betrayed their mission?

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’


April 14, 2008

OMG. Clueless.

Filed under: Internet — jesurgislac @ 9:14 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

“I would never want to use a search engine aimed at middle-aged, suburban white guys like me; I want the world.” The segregated web, via Jim Henley, via Avedon.

Dear Jeff Jarvis,

You already have and undoubtedly use a search engine aimed at straight, white, middle-aged, suburban Americans: this one. Or this one. Or how about this one?

Much love,

Je Surgis Lac

April 12, 2008

Dan Savage’s mom died

Filed under: Bad Stuff Happens — jesurgislac @ 9:31 pm
Tags: , ,

Dan writes:

Forgive the cliché: My mom gave me so much. She gave me life, of course, and some other stuff besides: her sense of humor, her bionic bullshit detectors, her colossal sweet tooth. She also gave me—she gave all four of her children (Bill, Ed, Dan, Laura)—her unconditional love. Long after I came out, she told me she always suspected that I might be gay; I was the quiet one, the boy who liked Broadway musicals and baking cakes and shared her passion for Strauss waltzes. When I asked my parents to take me to the national tour of A Chorus Line for my 13th birthday, that should have settled the matter. Your third son? Total fag, lady. But my parents were Catholic and religious and it somehow still came as a shock when I told them. My mother came around fast and she came out swinging—rainbow stickers on her car, a PFLAG membership card in her wallet, and an ultimatum delivered to the whole family: Anyone who had a problem with me had a problem with her.

Go read the whole column. If you’ve ever lost anyone you loved, go, read.

But bear this in mind:

Anyway, my mom is dead, and I am not in the mood, as she used to say. (“You are so,” one of us kids would usually respond. “You’re in a bad mood.”) So I’m going to take a week or two off, from the column and the podcast, hang out with the boyfriend and the kid, and burst into tears in coffee shops and grocery stores. I’ll run some greatest hits in this space while I’m away—I’ll find a column or two featuring Mom—and then I’ll be back, just as filthy minded as ever. In lieu of flowers, please send pictures of your boyfriends’ rear ends. (Lesbians may send flowers.) If you’re the donation-making type and you’re so inclined, my mother would be pleased to see some of your money flow to PFLAG ( or the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (

Snopes joins the anti-Clinton bandwagon?

Filed under: Elections,Internet — jesurgislac @ 10:01 am
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been a fan of for years. It’s a fabulous site, if you hadn’t encountered it already: for the glurge, for the delicate unpicking of the most godawful nonsense, for the research the couple who run it do.

If someone’s forwarded an e-mail to you that was obviously written to be passed on, it’s always worth checking in Snopes.

Or it was. Under their Home – > Politics – > Clintons section (one of’s charms is a thoroughly well-organized website) there are two webpages that shouldn’t be there. Both are standard Republican anti-Clinton circulating e-mails: Play by Play Analysis and Hillary Clinton’s Resume. Both were dated in February 2008 when I first noticed them, but the “Resume” page now has the date “31st March 2008”, as if someone’s added material to it since.

Both are listed with Snopes’ yellow “Undetermined” button, which usually indicates stories like the Presidents with Binoculars page – where Snopes rightly notes “whether real or manipulated, these photos don’t show anything beyond the trivial – most of us have accidentally raised a capped pair of binoculars to our eyes for a few moments, but most of us aren’t surrounded by photographers who can catch these moments”. That’s “undetermined” – the photographs may be real or photomanips, but either way, it doesn’t matter.

These anti-Clinton webpages just have “research is continuing” at the foot: they include nothing but the attack e-mails which would normally be the source material. (To see how Snopes normally does this, check out last year’s analysis of an attack e-mail outlining Marxist statements supposedly made by Clinton.)

Snopes has, in the past, without fear or favour, gone through a whole rack of urban myths and legends circulated about Presidents or Presidential candidates. I’ve never before seen them publish an incomplete webpage.

Well, I thought, when I first saw these, accidents happen. It’s a big website. Probably whoever was updating that page put up those two examples of inbox trash as placeholders until they had time to research them, but forgot to make them private – didn’t realise that the regular viewers of the website would be able to see them. Like a good Internet citizen, I made use of Snopes’ contact page to let them know they’d made a mistake.

I got a form letter back:

Thank you for writing to us!

Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine at can probably help you locate the very article you’re looking for. Just choose a few key words from the item of interest and enter them into search box. (Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches; selecting one or two key words is the best search strategy.)

And both the pages are still visible, and someone at Snopes is still adding material to the “Hillary Clinton’s Resume” page.

Snopes has turned itself into an anti-Clinton campaign site. This is most upsetting. Not because I’m especially a Clinton supporter – I feel that either Obama or Clinton would make a great President, and the main thing to avoid is another 8 years of McSame – but I used to admire Snopes for the research they did and the neutral attitude they took to urban legends, political and apolitical. They seem to have decided to ditch that. Which is sad in itself: Snopes was a great website.

Update: It’s even worse than I thought….

April 1, 2008

The Giving Tree Regendered

Filed under: Feminism,Torture — jesurgislac @ 4:34 pm
Tags: , ,

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: a charming story about a boy’s mutilation of a loving tree.

I had never read this before today, and, well, yuck. But, inspired by a discussion on Slacktivist, I regendered it.

I don’t know if the link will work, because Slacktivist is currently suffering from a horrible pagination error which bunches all comments into groups of 25, won’t permit links to exact comments, and requires a special fix to get to the end of the thread without lots of paging:

1. Go to foot of first page:
2. Click on “Next”:
3. In the URL, a page number has appeared, in the format page/n/#comments
4. Edit the value n to 42.
5. Press “Return”.

If the thread is 42 pages or longer (a minimum of 1026 comments!) this would take you to page 42. But if the thread is shorter than 42 pages, this will just take you directly to the last page of the thread.

(42 is the Answer, as always. I know where my towel is!)

Anyway, the story regendered:


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