At the very least

DWILSONMEME

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Paul Fromm is freaky as a frog with a moustache

Peep these NSFW pics of Fromm with his Nazi mistress here.

I mean, I’m no square, and perfectly aware certain married couples have “arrangements.” But (a) Fromm and his wife Diane do not, in fact, have such “arrangements,” and (b) he’s some kind of (albeit, given his white nationalism, heretical) evangelical Christian—he teaches at the “Soldiers of the Cross Training Institute” alongside Pastor Thomas Robb of the Christian Revival Center.

check miss lady's swastika medallion

check miss lady’s swastika medallion

Incidentally, Fromm and Robb are the chief organizers of the upcoming white nationalist festival in my backyard. I wrote about this here. You can read more about P-Smoov here.


Tennessee’s ‘Amendment One’ abortion bill is like Hobbes’ state of nature: Nasty, brutish and short

Other states are deciding you shouldn’t get 85 years for pot possession, or be kept from visiting your dying spouse in the hospital because his genitals look like yours. Meanwhile, Tennessee is busy making sure rape victims who get pregnant carry their attackers’ babies to term.

Our upcoming mid-term elections (Nov. 4) will play host to “the nation’s biggest abortion battle” in the form of a ballot initiative called Amendment One.

The background: In 2000, the TN Supreme Court determined that the state constitution contains an implicit “fundamental right to privacy” which covers a woman’s right to an abortion. This immediately struck down three of four extant restrictions on abortion (e.g. waiting periods, pre-operative counseling). It has since fended off the more egregious sorts of regulations seen in surrounding states.

Amendment One would add nullify this decision by adding the following language to the constitution (paraphrased): The constitution does not imply a right an abortion, after all, and therefore legislators (or the citizens, through their legislators) do have the right to restrict access to abortions.

Not enamored with the negative-liberty of the scripting, but one must be aware of one's audience

Not crazy about the ‘libertarian’ scripting, but it plays to an audience

Five Considerations

(1) The best reason to oppose Amendment One is straightforward: Because there is simply nothing wrong with having an abortion. It’s baffling to me how this fundamental point gets lost amid the fog of “government interference” and “individual choice” and the rest. (I’ll elaborate on the moral claim in my next an upcoming post.)

(2) The amendment would almost certainly be illegal, as it would simply override a court decision rather than rewriting or repealing the parts of the constitution on which it is based. This would be like adding a clause to the US Constitution saying there is no such thing as a right to bear arms—while keeping the Second Amendment intact.

(3) Amendment One is misleading in at least two ways:

The first sentence of the bill declares “the right [of lawmakers] to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion.” Legally speaking, the bill was complete at this point. But it awkwardly goes on to list a number of non-exceptions to the right already defined—namely, “pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

To clarify, this is a list of cases for which legislators do not have to make exceptions in any future abortion restrictions. But given the language of the first sentence, there are an infinite number of other cases which could have been listed there. The bill could have said exceptions don’t have to be made for economic hardship, religious preference, eye color, or anything else. Why these particular three?

Note, most “pro-life” voters in TN support the three (and only these three) exemptions in the bill. Most voters everywhere do; the list is standard in these debates. The bill is designed in the hopes that causal voters will skim the bill, eye the standard exemptions, and assume “the[y] are either in place, or could easily be put in place.” (Polling data shows this is already happening.) In fact, the opposite is the case.

If you doubt the confusion is intentional, consider that the scripting, if clearly understood by all Tennesseans, would actually make the amendment less attractive—since most voters support the exemptions. The bill’s drafters know this, and they included it anyway. This makes them either phenomenally stupid, or cunning.

* * *

A second way the amendment misleads: We know the legislators backing the bill intend to use the Amendment as a wedge to regulate abortion out of existence, or as close to non-existent as possible. We know this because of their voting records, their statements, and the fact that they hired abolitionist pro-life lobbyists to draft the bill. But lately, they are keeping mum about their long-term intentions in the mainstream press.

As District 7 Senator Stacey “Shit for Brains” Campfield clumsily admitted:

After [Amendment 1] passes, I have several ideas but for fear of those ideas being used to help defeat Amendment 1, I will refrain from talking about those at this time. I doubt there are any ideas I would oppose that would restrict abortion in Tennessee.

The relatively innocuous language of the bill masks the full story. Fewer Tennesseans would cast a vote knowing it effectively licenses forcing women to, say, bear children that will kill them.

(4) Amendment supporters say that, thanks to that 2000 court decision, abortions are “unlicensed and unregulated” in Tennessee, and therefore pose undue risk for women. This, of course, is a lie. But let’s assume there is some truth to this claim.

A thing is not either “safe” or “unsafe.” Safety is a continuum; you have more or less of it, and tradeoffs with other values (efficiency, cost, etc.) are inevitable. A car that tops out at 35 miles an hour would be safer, but overall less desirable, than a faster but more dangerous one. Similarly, it may be the case that having abortions which are (a) less regulated, but more accessible, is preferable to abortions which are (b) more regulated, and therefore more safe, but less accessible.

But let’s be clear: Our supposedly “unregulated” abortion is still safer than actual childbirth. If women’s safety is your capstone concern, you should encourage as many abortions as possible.

(5) Amendment backers complain that TN’s relatively lax regulations make it an “abortion tourism” destination for residents of adjoining states.

First, if you want to argue that not restricting abortions causes more of them, fine—but the fact that the “more” happen to hail from another state is beside the point. Where they reside is no more relevant than how tallt hey are. (Actually, all things being equal, tourism of any kind is good for a state.)

But then, this is a terrible argument. It amounts to saying: We have to restrict abortions or…more people will have them. Well, duh. The same could be said of every activity from homicide to drinking tea. The real question is: What’s wrong with abortions in the first place? If you haven’t answered this question, simply pointing out the near-tautology that not restricting something makes more of it doesn’t provide an answer. And if you have made the case that abortions are bad, this adds nothing to it; it feels a bit like “piling on.”

[For more info and analysis on Amendment One, see here and here and the Vote No on One Facebook page.]

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A final word of caution: Your vote against Amendment One is wasted if you don’t also cast a vote for (someone, anyone, for) governor. To amend the state constitution, more than 50% of all people voting for governor have to vote for the bill. If 100 people vote for governor, the amendment has to get at least 51 votes. Any fewer, it will fail.

Therefore, it is in the interests of those who oppose the amendment that there be as many votes as possible for governor, to raise the 50% threshold to be met for passage. (On the other hand, it might be wise for those favoring the amendment not to cast a vote for governor.)

Write-in candidates do not count toward the threshold. Vote Isa Infante on the Greens ticket.


Alton Nolen is a fake-ass Muslim

nolen-facebook-two

If you think the actions of Oklahoma beheader Alton Nolen say anything about “Islam,” you’re fucking stupid. He was emotionally disturbed and criminally antisocial long before he began playing Muslim—and he wasn’t playing it well. The few times he attended a mosque, they had to keep reminding him not to lay his fucking Quran on the floor.

The New York Times reports (as quoted from Lou Proyect of The Unrepentant Marxist):

Law enforcement officials said Mr. Nolen was a recent convert to Islam. A Facebook page that appeared to be his indicated that he was calling himself Jah’Keem Yisrael, and is filled with criticism of American culture, and dire warnings about coming judgment for those who do not follow that religion. “This is the last days,” he wrote in his most recent post, on Tuesday.

Writes Lou:

Wonder why he picked a last name like Yisrael. He might as well called himself Mohammad Cohen or Ali Bernstein. Clearly he was a bit *off*.

Indeed.


Reflections on the racist murder of Jordan Davis by the racist Michael Dunn [REVISED]

Michael Dunn was just found guilty of first degree murder in the “loud music” shooting death of 17-year old Jordan Davis in Florida.

Dunn had already been convicted of four lesser charges in February. However, that jury deadlocked on the murder charge. Prosecutors chose to retry him on that charge alone and were successful. This of course is great news, unless you’re a cracker or a dipshit.

Jordan Davis is dead because he was black

When I say Davis was murdered for being black, I’m not being hyperbolic or speculative or inferring inductively from similar cases.

Consider: While this case has been branded as a fight over “loud music,” Dunn’s wife testified that Dunn took issue with the genre, rather than volume, of Davis’ music—calling it “thug music.” It’s no great secret that racist whites in the “post-racial” era use “thug” as code for “young, male and black.” But even giving Dunn the benefit of the doubt, in letters from prison, he uses the term interchangeably with “black.” And genre aside, he labeled the boys in the car with the synonymous term “gangsters.”

Consider further: Jordan Davis appeared to Dunn from the neck up, much as he does in this by now well-known pic:

jordan_davis

Now ask yourself: If this is a “gangster,” precisely which features of this image would we need to change—apart from the substitution of white skin for black—in order to disqualify it from “gangster” status? Was Jordan supposed to wear a priest’s collar? Smoke a Sherlock Holmes pipe? Don a top hat and a fucking monocle? If not that, then what exactly, apart from white skin, was the issue?

Let’s be honest. Blackness alone qualified Davis as a “gangster,” and it marked him for death.

Stand Your Ground, again

Though it hasn’t been emphasized in the reporting, it was the defense’s choice to pursue a Stand Your Ground (SYG) strategy in the first trial that delayed justice. Eight out of ten jurors indicated that, but for the judge’s direction to heed this defense, they would probably have voted to convict in the first degree.

Florida’s SYG law specifies: A person may use force, “including deadly force[,] if [he] reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself ….” It includes an explicit “no duty to retreat,” having replaced the prior ‘deadly force’ law which allowed use of force only if retreat were impossible.

The law does state that the suspect’s belief that he is in mortal danger has to be “reasonable.” In principle, this part of the law could play a robust role. But unfortunately, (a) what counts as “reasonable” is nowhere specified in the law; and (b) for reasons not entirely clear to me, the “reasonable” clause is being ignored in application of the law.

In the Dunn trial, the “reasonable” qualifier was omitted in numerous jury instructions by the judge, emphasizing instead the “no duty to retreat” clause. The defense followed suit, arguing that what matters is “only if [Dunn] believed, right or wrong,” that his life was in danger.

There is reason to suspect this truncation of the law is commonplace is FL courtrooms. This omission has the effect of fetishizing the offender’s own perception of imminent danger—however grossly mistaken this perception may be. This is a serious matter: Three decades-plus of scientific study shows that whites like Dunn, even those who hold no overtly racist ideas, are likely to perceive black men like Davis as more threatening than they really are, and to manufacture ‘perceptions’ and even false memories to support that view. (See sect (2)(b) of my earlier post for the evidence.) The failure to examine the legal “reasonableness” of perceptions of threat makes an already shitty law worse; it vacates the chance to identify and account for any latent racism at work in both the defendant’s perceptions and the jury’s own beliefs.

Dunn was not in fear of his life

That said, Dunn never really had a good SYG defense, truncated version or not, and jurors were wrong to think he did. I say this because: Even if Dunn did face an imminent mortal threat in Jordan Davis, there is abundant evidence that he did not in fact perceive himself to.

The essence of SYG is that, even if defensive options short of deadly force (e.g. retreat) are available, one is legally free to ignore them. But there this knife has another edge: Failure to take one of these lesser options can itself be evidence that one did not perceive an imminent threat in the first place. That is, if Dunn’s safety would have been clearly better served by a retreat—that is, if “standing ground” was clearly more dangerous than leaving—this counts against his claim that he faced a mortal threat to begin with.

This possibility is implicit in the language of the law but so far absent from its application. But consider:

Dunn claimed that Jordan brandished a shotgun and threatened to “kill him.” Dunn responded to this “imminent threat” by asking for verbal clarification of the threat—“What did you say to me?—then ambled to his car to retrieve (and possibly load) a pistol from his glove compartment, then physically returned to the “threat” and began firing, finally chasing the “threat,” still shooting, as Davis squealed away in fear. Dunn had to know that simply leaving was more likely to keep him safe. But he stood and fought anyway. This isn’t the behavior of a “mortally scared” person; it is the behavior of a homicidal aggressor.

Witnesses heard Dunn say, “You’re not going to talk to me like that,” before (or rather as) he attacked. Really, is this how one responds to a verbal threat one takes seriously?—to emphasize its form rather than content? No way. If someone breaks in my house and holds a knife to my throat, I don’t get fucking offended about his churlish tone of voice. I get scared for my life. Dunn didn’t get scared; he got the vapors.

In the end, Stand Your Ground couldn’t protect Dunn. But it almost did. And someone else will get a chance to try it on, and soon. And the most likely beneficiary of this defense, when it works, will be a white killer of a black victim. The fact that these outcomes are patterned amounts to no less than state sanctioning of these deaths. And this has effects prior to and outside the courtroom. Quite frankly, it sends a message.

Dunn’s sentence is a victory and I’m not going to hate on it. But it is a rare one indeed, and for a reason.


Justice! (such as it is) for Jordan Davis, who was murdered for being black

[Analysis to follow. I leave you with this sentiment in the mean.]


My gloss on Reza Aslan’s refutation of Maher, etc. on “naughty Islam”

Aslan is correct to press that what Islamophobes like to think of as “Muslim problems” (e.g. sexism) are better seen as regional-cultural ones. (He’s also sharper and more polemical than in his last (albeit still very punchy) viral takedown. Keep ‘em coming, holmes.)

These naughty elements aren’t even nearly correlated with “the Muslim world.” Indonesia has more Muslims than anywhere else and sees legal and social equality between the sexes.[1]

The mismatch is not only geographical, but historical. Aslan might have added: “Islamic sexism” is mostly an import from Christianity. Deepa Kumar in “Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire”:

As Islam spread, it adopted the cultural practices of various empires, including those of the neighboring Persian and Byzanine empires. The Christians, who populated the Middle East and the Meditteranean had more rigid customs associated with women. In the Christian Byzantine Empire, the sexes were segregated. Women were not to be seen in public, were veiled, and were given only rudimentary education. As the expanding Islamic empire incorporated these regions, it also assimilated these cultural and social practices. In other words, the particular misogynistic practices that Islam came to adopt were largely inherited from the Christian and Jewish religious customs of the neighboring societies Muslims conquered. The…point here is that sexist attitudes toward women, far from being unique to Islam, were prevalent among Christians and Jews as well.

By rank accident of history, Western imperialism has executed a ‘chilling effect’ on some aspects of some parts of the “Muslim world,” which have—long story—benefited unequally from the advent of political liberalism. This, more than anything ‘in the Quran’, Pamela Geller, is the story of “Islamic sexism.”

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[1] OK, not quite. Patriarchy is endemic to every nation, “Muslim” and Western alike. I should have said: The criticisms which conservative Islamophobes make about Islam vis-a-vis sexism would not apply to Indonesia. Of course, we should strive for a higher standard for treatment of women than that set by conservative Islamophobes. [t/y Eric F.]