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Category Archives: Crimes Against Humanity

All I’ve Got Right Now

I don’t have anything new or insightful to say anything about the fucking heinous miscarriage of justice that happened yesterday. I signed the petitions and tracked the updates obsessively, briefly hoped that he might be saved, and felt no surprise when he wasn’t. I’m disgusted and speechless and I have no words.

All I have to say is this: I am not Troy Davis, and if you’re not a person of color, then neither are you. And if you’re not Troy Davis, but are wearing the t-shirt, or updating your Facebook status to say that you are, or WTFever–shut up. I understand that you want to show your support. Support is good. But white people are not Troy Davis; that’s the whole fucking point. And when you say “I am Troy Davis,” you are turning the focus away from Troy Davis, from people who are discriminated against every single day; you are turning the focus back to you.

I don’t feel eloquent today. I just feel angry.

So here are some links:

The Innocence Project

Students Against the Death Penalty

10 Things Anyone Can Do to Help Exonerate Innocent People and Prevent Wrongful Convictions

Amnesty International’s Not In My Name Pledge

“Few are guilty, but all are responsible”

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all those who will come after me.” — Troy Davis

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Swooping Back In to Drop a Rant on Alla Y’all

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So I read this stupid article the other day. It was called “8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance,” and while it had some semi-decent points, it was mostly very “man, the establishment and stuff.” Education, college included, is making us all conform to…something; television allows us to live in a fantastical dream world in which actions come consequence-free (dude. watch some crime shows, ok?); and most predictably, we’re all being medicated into compliance!!!

Which, no. No, no, no, no, no.

Setting aside how steeped in privilege this entire article is (how cute that the author has apparently never had to imagine the social and economic ramifications of not finishing high school), it’s also dumb in that very special fauxgressive, elitist, cis-het-male-able-bodied-middle-class-Caucasian kind of way. And it gave me an annoyed.

(Oh, and this is kinda off-topic, but just as a side note—what is it with the hand-wringing, pearl-clutching older generations who apparently cannot fathom the possibility that people who grew up with television and other technology would, in fact, be able to differentiate between TV, video games, and Real Life™? Violence, racism, misogyny, ablism, homophobia, transphobia—their presence in the media is a problem because it’s indicative of actual attitudes held by actual people, because their popularity suggests that bigotry is rampant, and because their prevalence reassures bigots that it’s all cool, don’t bother rethinking your bullshit. But the media is not dragging people into a Big Crazy Dream Land. People create entertainment, and then the media reinforces their bigotry. It works cyclically. The No-Good Terrible Very-Bad Media is not some kind of mysterious entity swooping down to corrupt us all.

Plz to not anthropomorphize the media kthanxbai.)

Anyway, here’s what I don’t get about the Meds Are Making Us Conform bullshit: well, everything, but my biggest problem with it is that, if you really want people to be malleable and ineffectual, you keep them sick. Right? I mean, before we had meds, we had…what? Institutions, and before that, nothing. Sick people just stayed sick, or got sicker, and eventually died.

If you deny treatment to someone with a physical ailment, whether they ignore the sickness or go into debt trying to buy treatment themselves, you have weakened them and taken some of their power. Is it really such a stretch to apply this to mental illness?

Oh wait. Yes it is. Because people get weird about mental illness.

If I had any doubt about the general public’s apparent inability to treat mental illness as a real thing that actually happens and is the fault of brain chemistry, not the person suffering from the illness, those doubts were put to rest the day Amy Winehouse’s death was first reported. Because here’s someone who stated publicly that she suffered from bipolar disorder, who became addicted to multiple substances, who wrote music about her addictions—and yet, after she died, I heard tons of people essentially saying “oh well, dead junkie is dead.”

Because yeah, that’s fair. Because this is totally the first time someone with bipolar disorder has ever developed a compensatory substance abuse problem, and clearly, it was entirely her fault.

I mean really. Obviously, I didn’t know Amy Winehouse, and I don’t know what her life was like, and I’m not going to pretend I had some deep personal investment in her well-being. That would be kind of creepy. And I don’t have bipolar disorder, so I can’t personally testify to how it feels. I do know plenty of people with BPD, one of whom is an immediate family member, so I’m fairly close to it, but no, I haven’t really been there.

And yet, I know better than to blame people for not winning the neuro-lottery. Crazy, right? (That’s not to say I won the neuro-lottery myself; I haven’t really. But I didn’t fare too badly, and I have plenty of other privilege that helps compensate for the problems caused by the issues I do have.)

People love to trot out Personal Responsibility as an excuse to ignore mental illness—because like, duh, you gottta take responsibility for your problems and stuff! It’s not even that I disagree; I think that sympathy, taken too far, can become coddling, which is enabling (and one of the reasons I prefer empathy to sympathy, but that’s a whole other post). I think it’s easy to slip into the role of an enabler, and I dislike arguments which assume that the mentally ill can never have any power or agency.

But.

First, there are people whose illnesses really are so severe that they literally cannot be held accountable for their actions. They don’t comprise the majority of the mentally ill, but they are there. The degree of their illness might be temporary, or it could be permanent, but they shouldn’t be ignored.

And second, I’m not going to jump on the Personal Responsibility bandwagon until our cultural attitudes toward mental illnesses change. I’m not going to criticize people for not seeking help when the likelihood that they will be shamed for it is so strong. Actually, I probably wouldn’t criticize them anyway, but you know.

Not to be one of those obnoxious self-referential bloggers who makes everything relate back to Me and My Issues, but I’ve dealing with this problem right now—because while I am finally, after years of being really fucking miserable, coming to recognize the depths of my issues with food, I cannot pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with a counselor. Part of the problem is that I’m tired, and used to feeling shitty, and terrified of gaining weight. But another part of it is the fear that I’m not sick enough, that I’m exaggerating, that I just need to go eat a waffle and go biking in the sunshine and listen to the birds chirp. (Or whatever.) Part of it is the fear that I’m just privileged and self-obsessed, and that the counselor is going to shrug and say, meh. You’re fine. You don’t look like someone with an ED. And part of it is simply not wanting to put up with the bullshit that comes when people discover you have a problem.

Which, whatever, I’ll be fine. But this just reinforces my anger when it comes to popular attitudes in re: mental illness, because really, what the fuck? I mean, I understand that there’s magical thinking at work here: the stubborn belief that people with diagnosed mental disorders are weak, that the contemptuous magical asshat in question isn’t weak, and therefore, that zie is immune from mental illness. Ok, fine, I get it. But it’s stupid and damaging.

And it enrages me (enrages, I say) when people who ostensibly support universal health care either make exclusions for mental illness, or pretend it’s a non-issue. No, it’s not. It’s really not. And sorry, but you don’t have the right to determine what kind of illnesses deserve treatment. You also don’t get to decide who deserves treatment, or for how long, or to what degree. You just don’t.

I wish I could write more on that subject, but now I’m pissy.

All I’m really asking, I guess, is that mental illness be treated as something real, as something harmful, and not as a sign of non-comformity and exciting independence. I also want this to be a genderless issue, but of course it isn’t. I remember when Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty were both gaining notoriety in the States, and the ways they were discussed were, ah, radically different. Amy Winehouse?—worthless junkie, terrible person, and people kept making fun of her beehive and beat-up ballet flats. But Pete Doherty? He was a misunderstood genius with a boyish face, which could be totally cute if he just got off the heroin and started bathing again.

Basically, I want a world that encourages anyone suffering from mental illness to seek help, regardless of who they are, how affable they seem, how sympathetic their suffering is. I want treatment to be free, for as long as it’s needed. I want everyone to realize that no, medication isn’t Destroying Young Minds; when used appropriately, it empowers people who suffer from problems they never asked for.

I also want this post to be more coherent, but I have too many thoughts and not enough focus. Heh.

In Re: The Blogosphere Lately

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A Brief List of Shit You Should Not Do:

The Atheist Elevator Debacle

Dictate another person’s boundaries

Decide that you are entitled to their time and/or attention

Approach them in an enclosed space with no other people present, acknowledge that you’re being inappropriate, but boldly soldier on

Insist that women are responsible for magically intuiting the desires of sad, socially inept men

Suggest that men are literally incapable of following accepted social guidelines, then accuse feminists of being “misandrist”

Turn someone’s story of a creepy come-on into the most contrived controversy ever

The Hugo Schwyzer Paternity Kerfluffle

Compare “paternity fraud” (really, guys?) to rape

Decide that a brief run-down of what is no doubt a very complicated story gives you enough information to make sweeping judgments about everyone involved

Shriek about “poor Ted” and “horrible Jill,”apparently oblivious to the inconsistency in who you’re willing to give the benefit of the doubt/assume the absolute best intentions

Leave a wall of text, using information lifted from Wikipedia, that accuses the author of being a psychopath. That’s just stupid

Say that you would stop loving your kid if you found out he wasn’t biologically yours. Not only does that make you a terrible person, it’s a lie—because if that’s all it would take to make you stop loving your son, you never really loved him to begin with

Get so hung up on the details of the story that you completely miss the overarching point of the article. (For the record, I was pretty squicked out by the story, but in the end I agree with Schwyzer—DNA doesn’t make a parent)

Mac McLelland’s Horrible Article to Which I Will Not Link

Grossly mischaracterize PTSD (Protip: You don’t get a diagnosis so soon after the traumatic event—like all mental disorders, you have to demonstrate an established pattern of behavior. Also, if she really had PTSD, “rough sex” would not have been a cure.)

Falsely equivocate bystander trauma with first-hand trauma

Make someone else’s rape about you

Turn a horrible story of a Haitian woman’s rape into a tale of Privileged White Lady Pain

Be so lazy in your use of language that your writing blurs the very-super-obvious line between sex and rape

Criticize her article on the grounds that she’s OMG SO TOTALLY SLUTTY instead of “wow, what a terrible narcissistic asshole”

This and This

Freely admit to being a stat rapist (2:14 in the video), revealing how utterly unconcerned you are with the potential legal repercussions, then deny that we live in a rape culture. (Yes, that person probably wouldn’t give you his real name, but his IP could be traced)

Be one of those horrible people. I can’t even.

An Open Letter to the Couple Who Roofied Me During My Otherwise Awesome Vacation (TW)

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Man, fuck you guys.

What was that shit anyway? Ketamine? Home-brewed GHB? Some kind of magical Puke In the Gutter and Fail At Keeping Your Head Up chemical masterpiece? I didn’t even know where I was. I had to puke up what was, hands down, the spiciest (and most delicious) Indian food I have ever eaten. I had to do this on the curb, in a skirt. And it came right out of nowhere. One minute I was standing on the sidewalk trying to change from heels into flats, and the next? Boom. Vomit.

You had a pretty smart set-up going, I must say. You, chicky, looked like Ginny Weasley, and barely old enough to even be in a bar; you walked up all, “hey, my brother wants to get you a drink, but he’s shy…” and I was just like, cool, whatever, I’ll take a free drink. So I ordered it, and the bartender made it. You grabbed it and handed it to me, which just seemed polite, given that you were standing and I was sitting. And then you, Mr. Shy “Brother,” shuffled over and made small talk while I drank it down.

I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I think you said you were studying Forensic Science–which I hope you made up, because for the love of whatever, you need to stay the fuck out of the criminal justice system.

Anyway, I drank this sugary, pineapple-infused drink that looked and tasted totally normal, and sure, you, lady, had briefly handled my drink…but you’re a chick. And you were only in my blind spot for a second. And I was sitting right at the bar, so it’s not like you’d had to walk across the room to bring it to me. This was a distance of maybe four feet.

And you, Mr. Shy, you were just a chatty dude. So wev.

And who roofies someone who’s in a group anyway?

Oh wait. That’s right. There is no perfect victim, just like there’s no perfect criminal. There are just, yknow, assholes and the people they choose to target. And while I could continue to beat myself up for accepting the drink at all, I think we all know who’s at fault here.

So you were trying to drag me to a different bar, and we said we’d meet you there even though none of us had any intention of going, and you finally left. And then we walked outside, and bam.

Again, fuck you guys. It apparently took thirty-five minutes for Pepper and her sister to even get me to stand up from the curb, and then they had to walk me to a taxi, and the driver gave me a plastic bag to puke in, and then I somehow made it back up to Pepper’s sister’s apartment and blacked out. I guess. I don’t really remember. I couldn’t even hold down water until two p.m. the next day. It’s taken me a week to even imagine the taste of alcohol without wanting to vomit. I had stomach problems for three solid days. I had to forgo oysters for lunch thanks to you shitheads.

Stay the hell out of my close relationship with seafood.

And personally, I didn’t really enjoy that whole “I can’t move my limbs” feeling. The “where the fuck am I and who am I with?” feeling wasn’t much better. But you know what really pisses me off? The part where I have to take a drug test for my new job, and, since I don’t know what you gave me or how long it can stay in my system, I’m gonna have to drop thirty-something dollars on this shit:

I think you mean "Vile."

Thanks, guys.

Oh, and to that one person who was all, “well that happens, that’s why I’m careful when I go to the bar”? Stop talking. Not just in this one instance, but as a general rule. Just don’t.

Here, consider this painting Pepper and I saw at the pier in Bandon, Oregon:

 

Yes, it says "Repent" on the bottom.

For the record, you did not ruin my vacation. It was still made of awesome and fuzzy bunny happiness. But seriously–I got roofied by a woman? My faith in humanity, you guys took it.

Sincerely,

Paprika

Story Hour with Paprika

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[TW for virulent racism, workplace intimidation, racist and ablist slurs, general awfulness]

Once upon a time, there was an unhappy woman named Paprika. Her perpetual displeasure was directly related to the overall shittasticness of the world. She tried to be happy, to eat good candy and drink lots of soda, but nothing seemed to help. And then one day, Paprika logged on to Facebook, and shit went very much awry.

One of Paprika’s friends—let’s call him Matt—IMed her asking if she was ready to be infuriated. She said yes, and he sent her the link to a screen cap he had taken. It showed a Facebook status something along the lines of “those of you who don’t care that Bin Laden is dead are stupid and need to shut up,” which, you know, whatever. But then, there in the comments, was a really trashy woman named Jessica, who was all “Bin Laden didn’t kill the Americans! Some other sand n*ggers did!”—except without the asterisk. Matt had responded with “Wow. Racists shouldn’t have access to Facebook,” prompting Jessica to observe that Matt was just totally not patriotic, and, come on—“even our troops use that word!” (Side note: I’m pretty sure that quite a few of them don’t, and as for the ones who do, well, they should be kicked out of the military. Personally, I have a problem with armed racists traipsing into countries full of people they hate. Call me crazy, but there you are.)

So yes, Paprika was, indeed, infuriated. But as it happened, Paprika was Facebook friends with the guy who wrote the status—Jared—and she also happened to work with Jessica. Jessica, it must be said, defines trashy. Jessica is one of those people who buys herself breast implants, a Harley, and thousands of dollars worth of tattoos, then bitches about the cost of daycare. (Actually, I’ve never known anyone to do that, except Jessica. Thanks, Jessica, for being the beyond-rare exception that Rush Limbaugh contends is the norm.)

So Paprika was all “wow, I kinda feel like responding,” and Matt was all “yeah, I’d feel better if I had backup,” so Paprika swooped in and left a bitchy comment that ended with the line, “Congratulations, you’re a terrible person.”

Well, it could only get worse from there. Somehow, the status devolved into people arguing that it’s “okay to be racist, as long as you don’t act on it” (because apparently, writing racist Facebook comments doesn’t count as “acting on it”), and Jessica being all “yo, we’re gonna throw down at work and stuff.” It was a classy chain of comments.

And then, today, Paprika finally got to work with Jessica.

She walked in, dropped her purse in the office, and put on her apron. Jessica got in her face and explained that they were out of ice, so everything for the salad bar was still in the cooler, and all the ice they had was in the sink, so be careful with the ice, we’re out, no ice, no ice at all. “You think you can handle that? Hmm? Is that too difficult for you?”

“That’s fine.”

Jessica proceeded to follow Paprika into the kitchen and regale her with more questions: “So uh, is there a reason you like to call people racist on Facebook? Can’t you say it to my face? Yeah, you should be fucking scared of me.”

Paprika sighed. God damn it, she thought, Is this the dialogue I’ll have to recreate when I write this sordid tale? This just sounds stupid. This is freshman creative writing 101 dialogue. At least be inventive, you racist dumbass.

But Paprika didn’t want to get into an argument while on the job, because, professionalism. So she walked away, sat in an empty booth, and opened a book. Jessica, however, continued to pace back and forth, tossing out insults. It was a kind of stupid incantation, really:

“You think you’re so smart, but you’re just fucking retarded.”

“How long are you going to be working here, huh? You probably shouldn’t plan to stay.”

“Why can’t you say anything to my face? You’re so pathetic.”

“You do realize that you have fucked with the wrong person, right?”

“Did you just not realize I got married? Did you think you were insulting someone anonymous? Did you think it was okay to call me a racist piece of shit as long as you didn’t know me? Is that it?”

Paprika smiled and continued to read her book. Jessica proceeded to mimic, word-for-word, everything Paprika had written in her “stop being such a terrible racist” Facebook comments. It’s almost like those comments had hit a little too close to home. I mean, I’m just saying. Just asking questions.

But then Jessica won the argument. She did! She looked at Paprika, and she said, “”Do you really think it’s worse to say sand n*gger than to take the Lord’s name in vain? Or is that”—she pointed at Paprika’s book—“the only book you know how to read?”

And Paprika laughed. She couldn’t help it—that was funny. Horrifying, and utterly reprehensible, but funny.

That said, she should probably get a new job. Jessica is the boss’s daughter, after all.

The End.

My Cryptic Rant

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You know, I’m starting to think that the majority of people just don’t understand what free speech is. Tell someone to stop harassing you? You’re suppressing their speech. Deny someone the right to pontificate on one particular forum, after giving them numerous warnings about the kind of behavior you will and will not tolerate? You just kicked the first amendment right in the balls. Criticize someone for saying stupid shit with no supporting evidence? Oh, you clearly only support free speech if you agree with the arguments being presented.

Seriously now, freedom of speech does not equal freedom from criticism. You don’t get to make asinine, unsupported claims, and then bitch when someone points out that you’re being an idiot. Actually, by trying to shut those people down, you are attempting to suppress their free speech. All aboard the hypocrisy train!

And also, I mean, come on. So you’re not allowed to spew your bullshit on one forum. That doesn’t mean you can’t spew at all. The world is full of soap boxes; just find another, and make stupid comments from there. If you harass people on one forum, even going so far as to say that we should feel “threatened” by you and your big scary business major man brain, you have lost your right to speak on that forum. And if you are banned from a forum for being a harassing piece of shit, don’t up the ante by harassing the person who banned you through private messages.

Man, what an asshole.

The rest of you morons—stop making us repeat ourselves. We have stated the same facts over, and over, and over again, and still you’re bouncing up and down and yelling “I don’t understaaaaand.” Well then, you’re either an idiot, or you’re not listening, or both; either way, it is not our fucking problem. And don’t play devil’s advocate. It’s an insult to the people who actually give a shit about the proposal being disputed.

Stop being all, “the administration has an open door communication policy! Why didn’t you take advantage of it before?” We didn’t take advantage of it before because we didn’t know we needed to. These decisions were made behind closed doors; did you really expect us to magically intuit what was happening? We were quick to become involved once the information was made public. What more could you possibly expect?

If you don’t know what an ad hominem attack is, don’t accuse us of making them.

Don’t ask us to prove the value of the humanities to you. I, for one, refuse to do it—it should be a given, and if you honestly don’t believe they’re worth protecting, we’re never going to convince you to join our side anyway. I will say this, though: I’m seeing a troubling tendency to prioritize athletics over academics, and that’s a bunch of bullshit. I mean, personally, I think athletes are a drain on society—they contribute nothing to the world beyond entertainment, and they make an absurd amount of money to do so. Athletes are just entertainers with impressive bodies, and that’s fine—people like to be entertained, and performers naturally have the right to profit from that—but there is no way in hell they should make as much money as they do. Everyone has the right to live comfortably, including athletes and other performers, but they shouldn’t be making any more money than someone who works for, say, Greenpeace. So.

Colleges exist to educate people, and prioritizing athletics over academics is a disgusting maneuver (which shouldn’t need to be said, but there you are). And please, news reporters, represent our positions correctly. Please mention the exorbitant amount of money being funneled into the new NCAA program at the expense of the humanities. This isn’t a budget crisis—it’s completely manufactured, and is a clear attempt to crush the liberal arts further. Which violates our goddamn mission statement anyway.

Seriously you guys, this shit is fucking exhausting.

Rape Is Not a Property Crime, But Even If It Were…

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I never robbed that bank.

Look, I know what you’ve heard, but what you’ve heard is a bunch of lies. Just listen to me.

I got a checking account with that bank, and things were going really well, and that bank said I would be eligible for a business loan at some point, which was awesome. I’ve been wanting to start a restaurant, and I wanted that bank to be an integral part of my future.

So I applied for a business loan and got turned down. Me—turned down. I don’t understand why, I mean, I hadn’t done anything wrong. I never trash-talked that bank. I never considered going back to my old bank, or finding a new bank—I was loyal to that bank. But I applied for a business loan, and they said no.

What the hell, man? That bank gives out loans all the time. And cash, too. Hell, that bank has a drive-thru, where people just grab money and go.

That bank was open every single weekday, nine to five, handing out loans, dispensing cash, making change—but not to me. And why? I’m just as good as any of those other assholes. In fact, I’m better, because I respect money. I don’t just throw it around—I’m careful about when I use it, and where, and why. I’m responsible, and I should be a valued customer. I don’t deserve that kind of treatment.

A loan isn’t a gift, it’s a business agreement. It benefits both parties, right? I didn’t want to steal anything, I just wanted that bank to hold up its end of the agreement. I mean, they said I would probably be eligible, and that’s a verbal contract. So, since that bank wouldn’t just give me the loan like I asked, I went and took it.

Don’t give me that look. You’d do the same thing if you got screwed over like that.

I went to the bank, and I walked up to the teller, and I passed her a piece of paper that said I had a gun. I wrote the amount of money I wanted—the money I was owed—and then she gave me the money, and I ran off.

She told the cops who I was, and about my note. But come on—I didn’t really have a gun. I was just kidding. And again, that was my money. I had tried to negotiate with that bank before, and they had said no, so clearly the next step was to negotiate more forcefully. That’s how business works!

I feel sad, though, because that bank and I will probably never rekindle the loving relationship we once had. I just wish that bank hadn’t been so stubborn and uncommunicative. But hey, I’m sure the jury will be able to see where I’m coming from—it was nothing but a series of unfortunate misunderstandings.

Now I just need to find a new bank.