Jindal writes letter to Obama telling him not to talk about climate during Katrina anniversary visit http://t.co/d8tQ0IzJjo— Climate Progress (@climateprogress) August 27, 2015
A friend writes on Facebook:
I would make sure I said "climate change" and pointed out how Republicans are doing absolute zilch to deal with it as many times as I could to spite the ignorant dumbshit.
In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:
Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.
When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.
This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.
After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.
The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."
#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards
President Trump's first day in office (except he'll have a lot more than an AK-47 to play with).
Inspired by a comment by Los Angeles radio host Ricardo Sánchez.
I cannot improve on these Facebook comments by our friend Ernest Hopkins:
A giant in the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. history is gone. Mrs. Boynton Robinson's contributions were critical and immeasurable. Job very well done. R.I.P.
My initial reaction to Wednesday's horrific shooting death of a Roanoke television reporter and cameraman during a morning news broadcast, other than shock and sadness, was that we need fewer guns and better mental health care. But I like a friend's comments on Facebook:
There is a really offensive meme going around that says to "like & share if you blame [Vester Flanagan] for the Virginia shooting...not the gun." My response to the people who have posted it and it showed up in my feed:
"I blame every single person who prevents implementation of policies and procedures to keep people like him from having access to guns in the first place. I blame everyone who refuses to recognize the critical need and provide funding and help for people who suffer with mental health issues. Then I blame him. I don't blame the gun."
Mr. Flanagan was sufficiently responsible to know what he was doing...otherwise he would not have had the wherewithal to send a manifesto or liveblog his actions. He could and should have voluntarily walked into any hospital or police station and declared he was in crisis and the tragedy could have been averted.
He plainly was a troubled man. I hope his family tried to get him help. Even so, the system failed everyone in this case...same as it has before...same as it will again. Anyone who claims they are pro-life, pro-family, and a Christian, is anything but if they oppose fixing our laws and our society to prevent tragedies involving guns. It's just that simple. Stop playing along with them and they will lose their power.
Some on the right, I suppose inevitably, are blaming the shooting on #BlackLivesMatter activists, whose advocacy is nonviolent and in protest against state-sanctioned violence against black citizens. The fact that the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot, was also gay (according to a manifesto posted in his name, purportedly by him) only gives more red meat to the haters.
A few months ago, around LGBT Pride, I announced a policy of apologizing for every crime or calamity that anyone blames on gay people as a class. This of course is ridiculous, unless you are prepared to blame (say) Ted Bundy's serial murders of women on all straight guys. But reason has little to do with scapegoating of minorities, so I wish to apologize for these horrific killings. I am so sorry. What was I thinking. Please forgive me. And fuck you ignorant motherfuckers. Oh, sorry, I was temporarily channeling Samuel L. Jackson.
Seriously, we need to do something about the proliferation and glorification of guns in this country. Due to a second fatal shooting Wednesday, you couldn't bring up "the shooting" without clarifying which one you meant.
As another friend said last evening, in response to a colleague who snarkily suggested it is "peak assimilation" when a deranged shooter announces he's gay:
The fact he was gay, and his complaints around such, are irrelevant. He was severely mentally ill. If he'd been told they were out of his favorite cone at Dairy Queen, he'd have imagined some slight that was worthy of massacre.
Yes. Let's address the problem, not exploit it to score cheap points on social media.
I am happy to report that I have won third-place honors from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association in the 2015 Excellence in Journalism Awards in the category Opinion/Editorial Writing, for my piece "Cutting Holes in the Law," published last December. Thanks to NLGJA for the honor, to the Blade for giving my work a home, and to those wonderful people out there in the dark (wait, that's Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard).
Lisa Rein at WaPo looks at the fallout for federal employees who turn up on the customer list:
Now that the Ashley Madison hack has outed as many as 15,000 federal employees and active duty military, government agencies say they’re combing through the e-mail addresses of possible adulterers to see if their extramarital activity on work time amounts to anything punishable.
The question for me is not whether government employees should be logging onto an adultery site on the job. The question is what kind of society we want, and how much further we are going to replace the walls and curtains of privacy with the electronic equivalent of glass and floodlights. It is easy to say "improve security," but there will always be a hacker somewhere with no compunction who can punch through the next layer you build.
It is easy to make light of social standards and boundaries when we are not the ones affected. With Ashley Madison, one boundary buster has its own boundaries busted. So we mock the religious hypocrites who turn up on the list. Then we find out that some people's lives are now in danger, such as gay men from anti-gay countries. And we are starting to hear about suicides. Most of us have done things that it would be mortifying to see splayed across TV screens. If we only respect the privacy of people whose behavior and beliefs and politics meets with our approval, we have already lost.
Vive la France!