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Aug. 28th, 2007

Spotlight on Africa

Wow. Gays are so dangerous that you can't even allow a straight person who recognizes that they're people to be allowed into your country:
Leading members of Malawi's Parliament are demanding Britain recall its new ambassador, before he even sets foot in the African nation.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced last week he was appointing Jack McConnell to be the UK's high commissioner to Malawi.

But members of all of Malawi's political parties say McConnell is unsuitable because he has been an ardent supporter of LGBT civil rights - something that Malawi opposes.

...

"To have a man who supports gay rights to come to Malawi is dangerous for us," Friday Jumbe, presidential candidate for the main opposition party - the United Democratic Front - told the Scotsman newspaper.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Africa, Ethics Minister James Buturo of Uganda tells gays that they need to "change to a normal way of life" or get out of his country:
My view is that of the majority of Ugandans. All people who have participated in this debate are denouncing the act. What else do these gays want? The message has been clear that their acts are not accepted in our society. They are wasting their time to claim that they are advocating for their rights. We shall not allow them to mislead our young generation. Shame on them. Our laws are clear, homosexuality is illegal.

If God is against homosexuality, who are we to legislate for it. We would be bringing a curse on Uganda, God forbid. They have no place in our country. They should change to a normal way of life. They should know that they are not free to do whatever they want. Homosexuality is not part of our values. As government we shall do everything possible to help them change and those who don't want to change would be arrested. We shall not act under pressure. It's nonsense to say that their acts are natural.

...

There are no rights for gays and lesbians in this country. Let them go anywhere else if they don't want to change to normal life. They have rights as Ugandans and human beings but not the right to be gay or lesbian. We pray that they accept Jesus so that they can discover that they are in the wrong. Either they change or the law catches up with them. If gays are demanding for rights, then rapists, defilers and those who sleep with animals should do the same.

Because, y'know, there are no gay Christians. And consensual same-sex relationships are completely equal with rape, defilement, and bestiality. Not to mention necrophilia.

"Stop hitting yourself!"

David Neiwert, commenting on Sean Hannity's willingness to not only defend Ted Nugent's calls for murdering Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama but to also attack what he sees as instances of hate speech or violent rhetoric by liberals, notes:
Of course, I've pointed out previously that this sort of behavior is part of Republicans' projection strategy: If they accuse liberals loudly enough of a certain kind of behavior, it becomes a permission for them to do so themselves -- though of course, liberals are at worst marginally guilty of this behavior, and the conservative immanation of it is exponentially more egregious.

I think that's part of it, but there's more. In the vein of "the best defense is a good offense", you accuse your opponents of doing what you are actually doing, and you get in there first. That way, if your opponents try to point out reality--"No, you're the ones doing that!"--it makes them seem weak, unimaginative, and childish. It brings to mind the taunt "I know you are, but what am I?" from grade school. So it's an attack on your opponents, which puts them on the defensive, while at the same time removing that same attack from their arsenal to use against you. And then we get back to what Mr. Neiwert says: even if they point out that you're the one actually doing it, it has become permissible for you to do it anyways because "they did it first."

I'm not sure that made any sense, but meh.
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Well, yeah, that's what I said, but what I meant was....

Michael Behe--author, hack, and Intelligent Design advocate (but I repeat myself)--once said that in order to prove to him that an "irreducibly complex" system evolved naturally, he would need to be shown not only a complete step-by-step list of mutations,
...but also a detailed account of the selective pressures that would be operating, the difficulties such changes would cause for the organism, the expected time scale over which the changes would be expected to occur, the likely population sizes available in the relevant ancestral species at each step, other potential ways to solve the problem which might interfere, and much more.

Which, of course, is more detail than any other scientific principle, and a hell of a lot more than they require for I.D. About the only person who would require more evidence is Kent Hovind, who offers a phony $250,000 challenge to prove to him that evolution is true. How does one do this? By recreating the Big Bang in a laboratory. And it's a good thing that Behe requires all this information to accept that "irreducibly complex" systems can evolve, or else he'd realize that he himself has already proven that they can do so.

But let's ignore their double standards for now. O happy days, there's a new paper out that actually gives all this information! So, naturally, Behe has dropped all his objections, shut down the Uncomment Descent website, and apologized to all biologists for wasting their time up until now, right?

Of course not. He was given all that evidence and declared that it's proof of intelligent design instead. Ah, well.

Aug. 27th, 2007

That's not even mentioning that terrorism is actually extremely cheap to pull off

One of the common arguments in favor of Bush's taking down Saddam Hussein was that he was financing terrorist groups, and that taking him down removed a large pillar of support from their operations. So we did. And it hasn't seemed to stop them from blowing shit up just fine. So where are they getting their funds from?

Us.
Iraq's deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they’ve extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.

The payments, in return for the insurgents' allowing supplies to move and construction work to begin, have taken place since the earliest projects in 2003, Iraqi contractors, politicians and interpreters involved with reconstruction efforts said.
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Heads-up

The website for the book A Practical Guide to Racism is up now, here.

"But what is this strange book?" you say. It's written by Sam Means, who has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion and currently The Daily Show. Means writes as the fictional professor C. H. Dalton (played by Dan Bakkedahl), who has his own website here. I'll let Dalton describe his book:
In the grand tradition of Josiah Nott's 1854 Types of Mankind, A Practical Guide to Racism (APGTR) attempts to provide a comprehensive picture of the different races and how they interact. This volume goes one step further, however, by cataloguing the history and practice of racism and racial studies, with the hope of providing a single source for final knowledge on this entire subject.

What can you expect in APGTR? For starters, there is a chapter devoted to each of the nine races: Hispanics, Jews, Whites, Blacks, Asians, Indians (and Injuns), Arabs, Gypsies, and Merpeople. In these chapters, I offer a simple, easy to reference guide to the race, as well as a history of their oppression, and a Mythbustin'™ guide to the stereotypes about them. For example, are Swedish women really able to suck the chrome off of a trailer hitch? No, of course not, but the stereotype is rooted in their extraordinary talent for oral sex.

In addition, I provide a comprehensive glossary of racial epithets, including my own suggestions for additional slurs, based on my research. There is also an appendix on the so-called "sexual races," like Gays and Women, and one on ancient races like Phoenicians and Doozers.

They're just beginning to add content, but you can watch some videos in lieu of lectures by Dalton here, and read an excerpt from the book here.

Close...

...but you also need to add that the Free Market will solve everything.

How confirmation become denial?

This may be a little old, but....
Top military lawyers have told senators that President Bush's new rules for CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists could allow abuses that violate the Geneva Conventions, according to Senate and military officials.

The Judge Advocates General of all branches of the military told the senators that a July 20 executive order establishing rules for the treatment of CIA prisoners appeared to be carefully worded to allow humiliating or degrading interrogation techniques when the interrogators' objective is to protect national security rather than to satisfy sadistic impulses.

...

...[T]he JAGs told the senators that a key part of the order opens the door to violations of the section of the Geneva Conventions that outlaws "cruel treatment and torture" and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," officials familiar with the discussion said.

The JAGs cited language in the executive order in which Bush said CIA interrogators may not use "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual." As an example, it lists "sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation."

Among lawyers, "for the purpose" language is often used to mean that a person must specifically intend to do something, such as causing humiliation, in order to violate a statute. The JAGs said Bush's wording appears to make it legal for interrogators to undertake that same abusive action if they had some other motive, such as gaining information.

Other law-of-war specialists agreed that this part of Bush's executive order creates an escape clause allowing abusive treatment.

Two former Reagan administration officials, Robert S. Turner and P.X. Kelley, wrote an op-ed page piece in The Washington Post on July 26 criticizing Bush's order as a violation of the Geneva Conventions that could endanger captured US soldiers by eroding respect for the treaty. Among their criticisms, they also singled out the "for the purpose" wording.

"As long as the intent of the abuse is to gather intelligence or to prevent future attacks, and the abuse is not 'done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual' -- even if that is an inevitable consequence -- the president has given the CIA carte blanche to engage in 'willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse,' " the two wrote.

And the White House's response?
Erik Ablin, a Justice Department spokesman, yesterday rejected that interpretation of the order. In an e-mail, he said the order "simply requires AN intent to humiliate and degrade the individual" -- for any reason -- before an interrogator's conduct would be considered a war crime. He said this standard was consistent with how international war crimes tribunals have interpreted the treaty.

Um, how is that a rejection of that interpretation? He seems to be confirming exactly what they feared--that there needs to be an intent to humiliate and degrade before torture can be considered a war crime. Which leaves an out for people to claim that wasn't their intention, they just wanted information, or whatever.
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Aug. 24th, 2007

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Topsy-Turvy Edition

In a great deal of the literature that I've read, the authors create a "scale" of the races, ranking them--usually according to perceived mental abilities. Often the scale would be: blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and whites. Sometimes they would have Malays in there somewhere, and sometimes they would have "Hottentots" below the regular blacks. But the idea was generally that blacks were the worst and whites were the best. Native Americans were held a little bit higher--there was the idea of the "noble savage" and the myth of Pocahontas, many of the oldest families in America had Native American blood in their veins (and were quite proud of it), and even the civilizations in Central and South America made people believe they were "better" than blacks. There was also a degree of bias in the people doing the judging, I'm sure--they would claim that Indians were so proud that they would die before being enslaved, unlike those slovenly obeisant Negroes. This, while giving Native Americans a bit of a higher position in the scale of races, also blamed the slaves for their positions (they surrendered to the idea too readily), but also gave the whites an excuse for exterminating Native Americans and not enslaving them.

Asians--specifically Chinese and Japanese, usually--were held just below whites in terms of ability. Both countries had ancient civilizations of their own, and especially with the Russo-Japanese Wars, it was clear that they were the equals of some of the Western powers. Japan especially was looked on with favor by certain writers, such as James Denson Sayers and Theodore Roosevelt. Whereas other Asians were decaying, Japan was growing, imitating the West and absorbing their culture. Often, though, Asians were discussed as though their glory days were behind them, and that though they were smart enough to use white technology, they could not invent it, or built upon it, or innovate it.

That was the usual scheme of things in works I've read. Then recently I found this:
[Prominent phrenologist George] Combe was particularly scathing toward the American Indians. In Africa, he argued, some of the inhabitants had at least advanced beyond "the savage condition," to create ". . . cities, rude manufactures, agriculture, commerce, government and laws; and in these respects they greatly excel several of the tribes of native Americans, who have continued wandering savages from the beginning to the end of their existence." Though there were some exceptions among the Indians, ". . . speaking of the race, we do not exaggerate in saying, that they remain to the present hour enveloped in all their primitive savageness, and that they are profited extremely little by the introduction amongst them of arts, sciences and philosophy." If Indian "savageness" stemmed from a conformation of the brain, attempts at civilization had little hope.

In a more popular work, Combe argued that a comparison of the heads of a Negro and a North African Indian demonstrated that the Indian intellect was weaker, but his pride and firmness were larger. Thus Negroes ". . . were able to appreciate the superior moral and intellectual powers of the European race, and are content in some measure to live under their guidance. The Indian, on the contrary, has refused to profit, to any great extent, by the arts or literature of the Europeans and has always preferred death to servitude." The great popularity of the phrenologists in the midnineteenth century ensured a wide dissemination of these racial theories.

--Reginald Horsman, "Scientific Racism and the American Indian in the Mid-Nineteenth Century." 27 American Quarterly 2, pp. 157-58.

So apparently some people at least thought that Indians were lower than blacks.

Vermont to decide which part of the bus blacks get to sit on

Well, no, they're not.

Instead, they're setting up a commission to determine whether they should upgrade from civil unions to full-blown gay marriage. Their first task is, apparently, to convince people that they haven't already made their decision:
A new commission set up to study whether Vermont should move from civil unions to full marriage for same-sex couples laid out its first goal Thursday: Convince the public it is open-minded enough to hear from both sides on the issue.

Several members of the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection insisted during the panel's opening meeting that they could put aside their own feelings on the topic and listen to Vermonters with open minds.

"While I have personal beliefs around civil unions and the right to marry ... I think it's pretty clear that the Legislature needs to reflect majority opinion ... and recognize where the state and society are willing to go," said commission member and former lawmaker Helen Riehle.

Gah, I hate all this talk about letting the "majority" decide what rights gay people have. Yes, a democracy is supposedly "majority rule", but... well, I'll let James Polk say it:
By the theory of our Government majorities rule, but this right is not an arbitrary or unlimited one. It is a right to be exercised in subordination to the Constitution and in conformity to it. One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the Constitution as a shield against such oppression.

Although maybe in Vermont the majority can make the right decision:
The 2004 exit poll asked respondents to choose between three options for legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships: full marriage, civil unions or no recognition. Forty percent said they support marriage, 37 percent civil unions and 21 percent neither.

Meh. Anyways... some people aren't too convinced about the gesture the commission is making:
Not everyone was buying the commission's promise to be open-minded, though. Two groups that opposed the first-in-the-nation civil union law when it passed in 2000 and oppose gay marriage now called for their supporters to boycott hearings scheduled for this fall out of fear the commission was stacked in favor of gay marriage.

Because then their opinion gets counted more, right?

Blackface is the perfect way to show solidarity with Africa

At least according to UNICEF, that is:
The United Nations Children's Fund is running damage control after its new German advertising campaign was not so-well-received. Someone had the not-so-clever idea to splash four blond child models in mud to create blackface.

The public service announcements intended to draw attention to the education crisis in Africa by appealing "for solidarity with their contemporaries" in Germany. The adverts appeared in, among other places, the most respected publications in the nation, such as Die Spiegel, Stern and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

You can follow the link to see two of the ads, though the translation of the German in the second one is incorrect. It actually means something like, "In Africa, many kids would be glad to worry about school."

UNICEF's reply, when outrage predictably ensued? "We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children."

I suppose it could be that Germany, not having the same experiences as America did, simply doesn't have the same sensitivity to blackface, so they didn't really see anything wrong. On the other hand, Black Women in Europe is probably right:
...[T]he kids' statements ignore the existance of millions of african academics and regular people and one again reduces a whole continent to a village of muddy uneducated uncivilized people who need to be educated (probably by any random westerner). This a really sad regression.
Bottom lines of this campaign are: Black = mud = African = uneducated. White = educated. We feel this campaign might do just as much harm as it does any good. You don't collect money for helping people by humiliating and trivilaizing them first.


Via Pam's House Blend.
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