Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world


AP Death Penalty Coverage

Filed under: General,Media,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 3:03 am

When reading articles about the death penalty, I've been repeatedly amazed at the AP's obvious slant. I first noticed it reading this article about the forthcoming "grim milestone"(TM) of the 1,000th execution since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977. You can read it for yourself, but you can get the general idea just from looking at the subheadings:

The race factor
Executing the innocent?
Questions raised

Under each subheading, death penalty proponents get about two or three lines and the rest is against them.

You then got similar treatment for the Stanley Tookie Williams fiasco (I'm not putting 'Tookie' in quotes, because it turns out that it's not a nickname; that was his real middle name. Who knew?). The articles constantly bemoaned his impending execution and how his defenders said he was innocent and/or had been redeemed.1 The fact that he had murdered four innocent people in cold blood during robberies and then laughed and bragged about it afterwards, that he had created a pox on American society generally and black communities especially by founding the Crips, that he never admitted to his crimes, that he always refused to provide any information on the gangs because he wasn't a “snitch”… well, all that got nary a mention or was significantly downplayed. It usually wasn't as important as noting that he wrote a few anti-gang kids books that were probably ghost-written, few were purchased, and nevermind the fact that it's when kids are entering their teens that they're especially vulnerable and a book read to them at 5 probably won't have much impact.

Then I get to this article about Charles V. Thompson, the guy who walked out of a Houston jail last month even though he was on death row. He relates his experience on the lam to the AP:

It was great. I got to smell the trees, feel the wind in my hair, grass under my feet, see the stars at night. It took me straight back to childhood being outside on a summer night. It was short lived, but I think it was worth it.

(Apparently he also drank a lot as a child because he was stinking drunk when he was captured.)

The article even ends with this little quote meant to make us feel sorry for him:

I'm pretty much resolved to my fate. Concrete box 23 hours a day. Just sit in there and think about how they're going to kill you.

Oh, poor boy. Well, you know who won't be smelling trees, feeling the wind in their hair, grass under their feet, or seeing the stars at night? His ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend whom he killed and who receive barely a blip in the article. In fact, their names aren't even mentioned, so I'll say them here: Dennise Hayslip and Darren Keith Cain.

So what about the slain?

Thompson got in an argument with Cain, left, came back with a gun and shot them both. He shot Cain four times before then shooting Hayslip once in the face. Moreover, a psychologist who examined Thompson said that he is "a charming, narcissistic sociopath who turns violent under stress." Being a sociopath means that he lacks the ability to sympathize with others and is essentially an amoral being. Other people have no moral import to him and he can lie, cheat, steal, kill, and do whatever is to his advantage and it's no big deal as far as he's concerned. In fact, it's not a deal at all except that if caught it will inconvenience him. And so he will say whatever and do whatever he thinks will get people on his side. He's scum.

So when CNN.com puts up this friendly-looking picture of Thompson…


…remember what a heartless, manipulating bastard he is and that these were the friendly-looking people he murdered (from a victim-tribute site the AP apparently couldn't be bothered to visit):

the victims

"I'm pretty much resolved to my fate. Concrete box 23 hours a day. Just sit in there and think about how they're going to kill you." Good. At least he'll get to know when death comes for him. He gave Dennise Hayslip and Darren Cain no such courtesy.

I highly recommend this post from the crime blog The Dark Side with details, links, and newspaper clippings of the case.

  1. I'll comment more on the Tookie circus when I get a chance. [back]


The Patriot Guard

Filed under: General,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 12:58 am

In case you're fortunate to have never heard of him, there's a guy in Topeka, KS, by the name of Fred Phelps who's a right lout. He's the pastor of a Westboro Baptist Church and has long made a nuisance of himself protesting homosexuals, something he and his followers do in completely appalling fashion. They stands on street corners, in parks, at restaurants, at parades, at churches… pretty much anywhere people don't share their extremist views, which is pretty much everybody. They call anybody who passes by a sodomite who’s going to hell. For Phelps and company, unless you're one of them, you're automatically a sodomite. They also have quaint signs with vulgar messages and stick figures arranged in, well, suggestive poses.

Phelps then decided to expand his annoyance of the citizenry and started picketing funerals as well. At first it was just those of homosexuals, but it soon grew to include whomever he didn't like (which, again, is nearly everyone). Since he has decided that America's troubles in Iraq are the result of God's wrath on a "fag nation" (that being the U.S.), he has seen fit to start picketing the funerals of America's honored war dead. That's right, he's protesting at the funeral's of fallen soldiers with signs that say such things "Fag Body Bag"1 and "Thank God for IED's." The guy's a real piece of work and I'll let you guess out of what he is made.

The adopted tactic of most Topekans has been just to ignore him. Cussing him out, yelling at him, or flipping him off is but sweet song to his ears. The deviant loves to be hated. Protesting soldiers' funerals, though, has proved to be utterly intolerable to people. As Gaijin Biker pointed out here, bikers have recently discovered they can drown out Phelps's invective. At a funeral last month, 125 bikers at a military funeral in Ark City, KS, at which Phelps was protesting, circled the protestors and would rev their engines whenever they tried to yell.

Then, at a Topeka funeral yesterday for Army Sgt. Dominic Sacco, around 100 bikers did the same. My brother, who lives in Topeka and brought the article to my attention, mentioned to me that the Harley-Davidson chapters had been communicating about Phelps's protest plans so that they could disrupt them. It seems they and others have gotten much more organized and have formed a group called the Patriot Guard whose express purpose is to go wherever Phelps is, especially military funerals, and ruin his fun. The man makes it all over the country and there are currently at least 436 members around the nation2 prepared to match their expression of first amendment rights against his. And they seem to be getting to Phelps as his group’s recent signs target the bikers specifically. That’s quite a compliment.

For the bikers and Patriot Guard, all I have to say is God bless 'em and keep up the good work.

Get at 'em.

I should also mention that at the Topeka funeral, other citizens were counterprotesting. I’ll leave you with this anecdote:

Standing near the Phelps group so they could certainly see her was tiny, 67-year-old Lorine Nolte. A Topeka homemaker and stay-at-home mother all her life, she said she had never protested anything — ever.

But she was there with the anti-Phelps group on Friday, with her sign, "I upped my flag … Up yours."

She's a straight-talking woman. She didn't know Sacco, but she heard what Phelps was doing to his family.

"I don't like the method we went to war. But these people served our country," she said. "To have these buttholes picket one of our own, that just pisses me off.

I like Lorine Nolte.

  1. Again, the actual sexuality of the person is irrelevant; in the Phelpsian lexicon, a 'fag' or any similar such epitaph is anybody who is not them. [back]
  2. Those who have input into the Frappr page anyhow, I'm sure there are more. [back]


Wise as Serpents or Naive as Children?

Filed under: Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:55 am

Matthew 10:16
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

Four members of a lefty group called Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken hostage in Iraq. I imagine their first thought was one of amazement that the people they're supposed to be helping would kidnap them. Unfortunately for them, their kidnappers don't give a damn. The four are Westerners (one American, one Briton, and two Canadians) and that's enough. They go out preaching peace and denouncing the "torture" committed by America while simultaneously declaring that the brutal men who bomb children, behead civilians, and threaten innocents are merely misunderstood or are pushed into their sadistic lifestyle by American actions. Even now their parent group has the following statement on their main page:

We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people.

Fools. The Iraq war is merely an excuse for jihadis, a justification to others for actions they already thought were justified. These four could wind up with their heads lying atop their stomachs instead of their necks and it will not be because of America. It will be because they are from a decadent West and because they are Christian. To men who regularly murder Muslim Iraqis accused of being collaborators, being a Christian Westerner accused of being a spy is more than enough justification for killing. The kidnappers are infected with a violent permutation of a religion and they will not listen to reason; they have no use for it.

The fact that this group works for peace is, in and of itself, noble. They have, however, forgotten the first part of that verse up above. They are not wise as serpents, they are naïve as children. They traipse around a country ignorant of the sort of men who have sworn their destruction – ignorant of what they are, what they do, and why they do it. Jesus instructed His followers to be peaceful, but not to be stupid and not to be ignorant of the world around them. The CPT folks haven't succeeded in this. They don’t understand the nature of conflicts or of evil men and so their methods and policies are accordingly confused. Their lack of serpentine shrewdness makes them harmful to themselves and others, so they wind up failing the verse’s second component as well.

If the hostages are released, and I hope they are, I would like to think they will have learned something about evil.

But I wouldn't count on it.

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Can the Commies Control the Technology?

Filed under: Politics,Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:05 am

One of the especially nice things about the increasing miniaturization and spread of technology is that it's opening up worlds previously hidden to us. Sure, there are there are the pervs who use small cameras to take upskirt pics (I said here that science will always be exploited for pervy purposes), but there are also stories like this. In North Korea, dissidents have managed to smuggle out images and video of the prison camps Kim Jong Il's regime claims do not exist and also street scenes it would rather you not see:

Images from video smuggled from North Korea show a public execution and what appears to be a concentration camp housing political prisoners, according to a CNN documentary set to air Sunday night.

Sarah McDonald, who produced and directed the documentary, "Undercover in the Secret State," said her crew interviewed a man who had been in a camp shown in the movie.

"What he described, we didn't put it in the film," she said Friday from London, England. "It is so appalling, you just can't imagine. He said that 95 percent of people who go into that prison die in the prison. Their whole motivation is to kill these people, but they won't let them die easily.

"They — they torture them to death over a very long period of time."

Other images from the film include emaciated children begging and stealing on streets littered with dead bodies and a nearby market selling bags of rice that had been provided by the United Nations for famine relief.

Nothing quite like a worker's paradise.

Because cell phone cameras, as well as dedicated digital cameras and vidcams, are essentially spy cams and because they're in so many hands, we're getting to see things that simply weren't possible before now. Regimes are having trouble restricting their use.

This goes for technology generally. China censors what internet sites its citizens may see and has recently restricted cell phone text messaging. A communist country (especially of the Stalinist derivation) depends on being able to limit and monitor what information gets to its people. In the days of dinosaur media, this was a relatively easy task. Newspapers, broadcast TV, and movies1 were by nature large operations that could not be done discreetly; they required government patronage and control. Violations were obvious. Now, though, entire books can be carried on a memory card the size of a postage stamp. Publishing your thoughts to the world takes only a few mouse clicks. Audio podcasting is increasing in popularity and as memory and bandwidth costs lower, vidcasts will come along as well. And the commies are desperate to control it all.

It remains to be seen that they can. Information among a populace is like a flow of water. It will leak through any cracks it can find and will steadily beat at its barriers, constantly eroding them until it finally breaks through.

  1. Radio could be done more easily, but signal triangulation could find you out. It was usually left up to free radio operators on the borders broadcasting into the country. This is one reason why radios in North Korea must be registered with the government, are modified to receive only a few approved stations, and are subject to random searches to see if they've been tampered with. [back]


Bruce Willis is the Man

Filed under: General,Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:23 pm

Bruce Willis has just become my favorite actor.

Tough guy actor Bruce Willis apparently wants to chip in on the bounties that are now on the heads of Islamofascists Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Bruce Willis is such a die-hard patriot that he's offering $1 million to any civilian who turns in terror kingpins Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hairless Hollywood he-man announced his bounty offer on MSNBC's "Rita Cosby: Live and Direct" this week.

There are already sizable sums on these guys' heads, so this probably won't make a big difference, but I gotta like a guy who's willing to put up that much cash for the capture (or heads) of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi.

And if that weren't enough to make me like him, there's this:

Willis also revealed he was in talks to make a movie about the Deuce Four, the soldiers whose heroic exploits have been chronicled by embedded blogger Michael Yon.1

And then this!:

Willis complained about media coverage of the war:

"I am baffled to understand why the things that I saw happening in Iraq, really good things happening in Iraq, are not being reported on."

That's it. I'm going out to buy Die Hard, all three of 'em. No, that's not enough. This deserves even getting Hudson Hawk.

  1. Michael Yon's blog is here and I highly, highly recommend it. Will Willis play Yon or LTC Kurilla? [back]

Fowling Your Own Nest

Filed under: Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:10 pm

Related to the last post, if the West's tolerance often works against it, then militant Islam's predilection for violence is its greatest weakness. It could have (and has) comfortably exploited the West's tolerance, gained footholds and political power, and gradually made changes in its favor. Instead, it perpetrated the events on 9/11 and woke up America to its threat. Then it roused the even sleepier Europeans by bombing a Spanish train, murdering Theo Van Gogh, sending death threats to a Dutch newspaper, and rioting across France, making them aware of the danger in their midst.1 Then, if that weren't enough, they attack their own base. They set off bombs in Saudi Arabia, bomb hotels in Egypt and Jordan, and commit unusually abhorrent atrocities in Iraq. In doing so, they turn their supporters against them. It's a remarkably bad strategy, but because their primary tactic is violence, violence, violence, they are unable to do otherwise even when it works against their best interests. It’s a self-destructive pattern.

  1. I'm not claiming these are coordinated events under some monolithic militant Islam, but rather that they all stem from the same ideology. [back]

An Apology Isn’t Warranted

Filed under: Politics,Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 10:56 am

LGF points to this piece about the Church of England's plan to apologize for the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.

"We do believe that the church has a visionary role for reconciliation beyond that of any government," one of the authors, Bishop Richard Harries of Oxford, told BBC Radio.

That role involves what the report called "truth and reconciliation" meetings with Muslim leaders that would give Christian counterparts the opportunity to perform a "public act of institutional penance" for the West's "long litany of errors" in dealing with Iraq, including the 2003 war.

An apology is a contrite expression proffered by party A to party B when A has wronged B in some way. This means that for an apology to be warranted, B must have a grievance against A (the apology must be applicable – it would make no sense to apologize to B when it was actually party C who was wronged) and the grievance must be legitimate in that it is something worthy of apology and for which A should feel sorry. So are these conditions met?

First off, why need we apologize to Muslim leaders for attacking Iraq? We weren't attacking Islam, we were going after a secular dictator. A dictator that killed his own people, held the living in the grip of fear, attacked his fellow Muslim countries, and had institutionalized rape, torture, and murder. Unless the Muslim leaders want to claim that those are values that Islam holds dear, then they shouldn't be concerned that we overthrew the man who did those things and we accordingly do not need to apologize.

If you would like to say, though, that this really was an attack on Islam in that we were going after Islamic terrorism, then what does that entail? We certainly didn't attack Islam, per se, or else we would have established tidy concentration camps for all Muslims in the U.S. Rather we were/are going after violent Islamist extremism that advocates the murdering of civilians, beheading innocents, killing children and then rigging the kids' bodies so as to blow up the parents who retrieve them. Again, unless the Muslim leaders care to hold up such activities as representative of Islam itself, then there is nothing for which we need to apologize. If they perhaps want to claim that Islam does support these things, then they certainly do not deserve any apology (we apologize for preventing you from blowing up innocents?) and they too are a threat.

So as concerns the war in Iraq and the war against Islamic terrorism, an apology to Muslim leaders simply isn't applicable since no affront was made towards peaceful Islam. The only way an apology could apply is if the leaders in question are themselves violent Islamists and then they too are not only enemies, but also repugnant people to whom no apology is warranted since justice is being served to them. Their grievance is not legitimate.

If you perhaps want to inflate this into an apology not just for our current actions, but also for the Crusades, colonialism, and other past behavior to Muslims in general, my response is that maybe that can occur when the Muslim world is also willing to apologize for its actions towards the West. Our poor cultural memory seems to forget that up until around the 1700's, the West suffered disproportionately at the hands of the Muslim world, to the point that it was nearly wiped out at several points. Turkey, the Mediterranean Middle-East, and North Africa, for example, were at one time, thoroughly Western domains until they were conquered by Muslim armies. Spain, Greece, and parts of Eastern Europe changed hands several times. Istanbul, of course, was once Constantinople, a crown jewel of the Roman Empire. So if Muslim leaders deserve an apology for rough treatment from the West, then the West is equally deserving of an apology from those same Muslim leaders for the same reason.

So why would the Church of England (or other liberal Christians generally) think an apology is warranted? I can only imagine that it is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of whom they are dealing with. The great mistake many in the West make is believing that everybody is fundamentally like themselves. Perhaps at same truly basic human level this is true, but cultural, religious, and economic differences prevent similarities from going beyond that. Their perception of the world is very different and in some ways, these differences are positive. In many other ways, however, they are negative, and more importantly, they are bad for us. While the CofE seeks to apologize to Muslim leaders and engage in reconciliation, many of those leaders (especially those of the Wahhabist inclination) envision the eventual domination of Islam over the world, the forced subjugation of the West, and the crescent flag flying over the Vatican. Reconciliation requires that both (or all, depending on the case) parties be willing to meet in the middle and resolve problems. Groups like the CofE, however, seem to be quite willing to march across the center ground and meet the others wholly on their side. They give away the farm and demand no sacrifice or penance from the other side. Essentially, they execute an unconditional surrender.

I have said in the past that no power can ever defeat the West; the West can only defeat itself. Powers hostile to the West use and exploit the West's tolerance and inclusiveness (perhaps its greatest strengths and also its greatest weaknesses) against itself. Its tendency for self-reflection and correction (again, highly valuable) are equally dangerous. While I don't at all propose the West lose these qualities, they must be used with wisdom and discretion, and this is lost on the CofE and others. When used well, the qualities are good, but they are self-defeating when used poorly.

So while the Church of England may commune with moderate Muslim leaders (I obviously don't mean to impugn all Muslims, as many… most… are not subject to the charges leveled above; it is the militant variety with which I am concerned and which the CofE is happily including), those moderate Muslims don't need an apology as the apology the CofE is proposing is not applicable to them since they are moderates. The militant Muslim leaders obviously don't warrant an apology. So to whom is the CofE apologizing?


The NFL Taking Steps for the L.A. Saints

Filed under: General,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 11:28 pm

There's a bunch of noise being made about the Saints returning to New Orleans, but I'm still not holding my breath. Terry Bradshaw (who's never turned down appearing in a commercial) is talking about getting a group together to buy the team so as to ensure it stays put. There's also this:

But last week, Benson agreed to move back two crucial deadlines in the team's Louisiana Superdome lease with the state. An attorney for the Superdome, Larry Roedel, said this week that moving the deadlines all but guaranteed the Saints will play a 2006 schedule in Louisiana. He added that he has received assurances to that effect from the NFL, although the NFL has yet to confirm that publicly.

He might be right about 2006, but there are no assurances for any season beyond that. The NFL is renegotiating some contractual deadlines, but they only extend the Saints' stay for a year.

The agreed upon contractual change would push back from Nov. 27 a provision giving the Saints the option to break their contract with the state because the Superdome was not fit for football after being damaged by Hurricane Katrina. That deadline has been pushed back to Jan. 15, 2007.

The change would also extend a March 31, 2006, deadline in the current agreement that gives the Saints the right to move to another city after this season by paying back $81 million in direct subsidies the team received from the state during the first four years of a 10-year, $186.5 million deal signed in 2001. That date has been extended by one year to March 31, 2007.

I think the NFL is committing to the city for another season and is betting on New Orleans to be in too bad a shape to support the team after that (and which will be proved by that one season in New Orleans), at which point they'll use the excuse to send the franchise elsewhere. This way the league and Saints owner Tom Benson don't come out as quite the bad guys for stripping the stricken city of its team. They still have a legal out, though, and can plausibly claim they stayed to see how things went and only are leaving in 2007 because of economic forces.

So where would they go in 2007?

It's looking like Los Angeles. Coincidentally, the NFL has just reached a preliminary agreement with L.A. officials to bring a team back to the country's second largest market and have it play in the Coliseum. Or maybe at the Rose Bowl or a new proposed facility in Anaheim. What's more, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is playing coy about what team will occupy the digs.

But Tagliabue, in a 15-minute session with reporters on the steps of City Hall, didn't identify a potential tenant or speculate when Los Angeles might get the team.

"I think the critical thing now is we're at the point where it's recognized, certainly by us, that the time is right," Tagliabue said. "We have to get agreements finalized. We'll be pursuing agreements in Anaheim. We're going to work with both communities for an agreement."

The time is right and they have to get agreements finalized? What's the hurry?

He said there have been no in-depth discussions on whether the region would get an expansion or existing team.

Tagliabue said last month that future expansion was unlikely anywhere but Los Angeles.

Sure, an expansion team, right. Apparently Bernie Parks didn't Tags' memo to play it cool:

City Councilman Bernard Parks said after listening to Tagliabue that he believes the Coliseum will eventually get an existing team rather than an expansion team.

"The NFL is going to have a say on who's going to come here. The Coliseum has no role in selecting a team," Parks said.

Asked when it might happen, Parks replied: "I don't know. Nobody's signed anything. They've got to say they're coming."

That being said, Parks expressed optimism.

"In my judgment, I don't believe these business people waste their time and money," he said. "They've spent a lot of time and money."

Of course, just about any team could make the leap to L.A., it doesn't have to be the Saints. The Saints, though, are in the best position for the move since they are otherwise committed to an economically and demographically stunted region. To my knowledge, no other owners are currently so unhappy with their present arrangements that they're agitating to leave.

So if we put the pieces together – insider NFL officials previously told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Saints will permanently move to L.A.; a deal for a team in L.A. is reached; an L.A. councilman says it will likely be a current team moving in; Taglibue dodges the question; the Saints are in flux; and the league is pushing back deadlines that would keep the Saints in New Orleans for just one more year (1 year and 10 months from now is plenty of time to get the stadium situation in L.A. ironed out) – the signs point towards the L.A. Saints.

True, this is purely speculation, but when the evidence is assembled, it certainly seems to be a reasonable conclusion.

(submitted to Wizbang's carnival of trackbacks)



Filed under: General,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 1:33 am

Over at Devil's Advocate, Robbie, who (for the sake of proper context) I'll note describes himself as a "Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative, Gay Republican American," posted the following:

What do transvestite have to do with the gay community exactly? Not all transvestite are gay, so why are they underneath our umbrella?

And why are transgendereds/transexuals included in the gay community? If you're a woman trapped in a man's body … i can see how you would be classified in the gay family. But once you take that surgical leap and make your outside match your inside … well … aren't you straight now?

Can someone help me here?

I replied in the comments and since it was so long and took so much time, I figured I'd also put it here as it's own post:

This is actually an issue that affects oppression theory generally. It's called intersectionality. One of the dust-ups in feminism, for example, has been the fact that it was primarily led by middle-class white women. Fine, but the concerns of those women were not the same as the concerns of, say, lower-class black women. The white women were saying that equality in work was necessary for gender advancement, while the minority women were saying that they've been working for a long time already, so what else ya got?

Similarly, concerning civil rights, many black women felt that they had to subsume their gender issues to the "greater" cause of racial equality. And, again, the issues women faced with male dominance in the black community were not the same male dominance problems white women faced, so white-dominated feminism was an imperfect fit.

So any one group can be fractured down into a number of other groups. A Latino lesbian, for example, is a member of three different groups: ethnic, gender, and sexuality. While she can certainly be in a group that consists of and fights for the rights of Latino lesbians, this likely won't be a group that can wield effective *political* power. If she seeks to effect change on any of the fronts, she will have to place herself under a particular umbrella and potentially make her other intersectional interests secondary to it even if it may not serve them. She may decide to primarily support Latino, women, or gay rights even though choosing one may mean the others suffer.

This can obviously be a challenge for the individual who may feel as if he/she is denying a part of themselves, but is necessary from a political perspective. Ethnic issues didn't arise in the feminist movement until a certain level of advancement had been made and conversely gender issues didn't arise in the civil rights movement until some advancement had been made. It's being quiet for the perceived greater good.

The effect of intersectionality on these movements has been profound. Part of the reason feminism has stalled is because of considerable infighting amongst the feminists. Once people start properly complaining that their groups are being ignored by the wider movement, then the movement must stop to address the problems being raised, and intersectionality is so tricky that it's difficult to get the movement back on track.

Now, to your question, I think those other groups get lumped under the general gay umbrella because the gay rights movement is concentrated on changing laws and mores governing gender-based sexual behavior, which broadly concerns them as well. So while the transgendered or transsexual person's interests are not identical with a homosexual's, they do agree that social ideas about what it means to be man or a woman, and the associated sexuality, are outmoded or incorrect. Similarly with transvestites, though the connection is slimmer. And since the transgendered, transsexual, transvestite groups are individually too small to effectively fight the taboos on their own, they will happily join the larger gay efforts which are generally addressing their interests. I would imagine that, like the other movements, when a certain level of advancement is made, they'll start breaking off and agitating more for their own specific goals.


Sports Immaturity

Filed under: General,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 11:14 pm

Terrell Owens is out for the season. After recently getting into a fight with a former Eagles coach, publicly dissing QB Donovan McNabb, and complaining that the team neglected to honor his 100th touchdown reception, the Eagles finally suspended him and have now deactivated him for the season. Other events to include on Owens's jerk highlight reel are how he demanded a new contract before last season even though he was just one year into a nine-year contract, how he stomped on the Dallas Cowboys midfield star logo after scoring a touchdown (he did this twice, actually, but got clobbered by half the Cowboys the second time and he was suspended) and pulling out a sharpie and signing a ball after a touchdown with the 49ers. In short, he had it coming.

Oh, but he's a very good football player and has great skills. Think also of Randy Moss who has some of the greatest ability the football gods have ever bestowed on one player. He's amazing. But he's also a whiny, self-centered layabout who will take off plays that aren't designed to get him the ball. When I watched the Chiefs-Raiders game earlier this season, Oakland QB Kerry Collins wouldn't even bother glancing in Moss's direction as a checkdown wideout on plays when he wasn't the primary receiver. That's because when he isn't the main guy, Moss will dog the play, making a half-assed effort against the cornerback off the line and trot maybe 10 yards. If he's not getting it, he doesn't care and this attitude hurts the entire offense. If you're an opposing safety on a passing play, for example, and see Moss barely try getting off the line, you'll ignore him completely and cover one of the other receivers instead. If Moss made it seem like he was the intended receiver on each play, however, it would open up the other guys because the opposing defense would feel compelled to cover him more. Anyway…

This sort of behavior is also one of the more frustrating things about sports. There are some guys who really bust their butts to make it in the professional leagues. They don't have as much natural talent as other guys, but they cultivate what they have, work hard, and make it. Some last a long time, most warm the bench for a season or two and are done. Then you have guys like Owens and Moss who have amazing talent, but they take it for granted. They don't work hard, they have no work ethic, they're not good sportsmen; they're a cancer on their team. And they know that no matter how a big a jerk they are, their ability will land them somewhere else and with a hefty salary. Yes, in the offseason, some team desperate for a playmaking receiver will sign Owens despite his escapades. It's depressing, though, to see the talented underachiever get rewarded, while the hardworking average guy gets the boot. But that's life, I suppose.

This, though, wouldn't be so much a problem were it not for the immaturity rampant in sports and those that allow it. About six years ago, Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer was desperate for a Super Bowl ring and so he and GM Carl Peterson started taking in other teams' rejects. And then the rejects started giving themselves nicknames. Andre Rison was Spider-Man (sticky hands) and would pose after making a catch. CB Mark McMillan was Mighty Mouse (he was only about 5'8″) and would flex after a good play. It was embarrassing, but it was allowed and encouraged. In what later become known as the Monday Night Meltdown, DE Derrick Thomas (RIP) blatantly whipped around Denver TE Shannon Sharpe by his facemask… twice… on consecutive plays. Sure, he was frustrated because the Chiefs were getting blown out on Monday night at Arrowhead and because Sharpe had a famous taunting tongue, but Marty should have expelled Thomas after the first facemask tantrum. Then he should have suspended Thomas for a game or two. Neither happened. Oddly enough, the Chiefs went a few years without a Monday night appearance.

Childishness simply shouldn't be tolerated. If you can't be a professional in a professional sport, then you shouldn't be playing it. This goes along with the recent decision by the NBA that its players must dress appropriately when representing their teams:

With the new season set to begin Nov. 1, Stern announced a dress code earlier this month that requires players to wear "business casual" attire whenever they are engaged in team or league business. It specifically bans shorts, T-shirts, jerseys, sneakers, flip-flops, headgear such as 'do-rags, and chains, pendants and medallions worn outside clothing.

One should think it is a bare minimum not to look like a little kid or display some ostentatious display of wealth and pimpery when representing one's employer. One should think this, but not some of the players. Allen Iverson and some other black players claim it’s racism to require them not to look like thug fools. They claim they're just dressing the hip-hop style as if they do nothing to feed back into and perpetuate that style. Kids in the black community look up to them and will dress like them, including the bling. That puts pressure on the kids to obtain what they can't afford and lead them into unsavory activities. And, as Charles Barkley put it, while the basketball players can get jobs looking like a rap video reject, the same cannot be said for teenagers. Strangely enough, pants falling off the butt, oversized clothing, gold teeth, and diamond encrusted junk are not things that employers look for. It used to be that players were mindful that they represented their teams and the communities from which they came and so they acted and dressed so as to garner respect, not just for themselves but for those whom they represented. No more. Now you get incidents like this:

At one of Belgrade's finest restaurants last year, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and many of their youthful U.S. Olympic basketball teammates attended a dinner in their honor. The guests included members of the Serbian national team, all of whom wore matching sport coats.

Iverson and some of his fellow National Basketball Association professionals arrived wearing an assortment of sweat suits, oversize jeans, shimmering diamond earrings and platinum chains, according to NBA officials who were at the dinner.

Larry Brown, the Hall of Fame coach of the U.S. team, was appalled and embarrassed. He later remarked to one official that he had thought about sending some of the worst-dressed players back to the team hotel.

This is the great individualism of the NBA players who got waxed in the Olympics because nasty dunks somehow just couldn't overcome solid fundamentals and teamwork.

Immaturity in sports is not tolerated in the immature and it certainly shouldn't be tolerated in adults. Nor is immaturity tolerated in the wider world. The sphere of professional sports is no exception to acceptable behavior. Players need to act their age, be responsible, and act with the dignity that everybody, not least of all the players themselves, deserves. If they can’t respect themselves or those whom they represent, then I’ll not respect them either.


The Gay Cowboy Movie

Filed under: General,Media,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 11:10 pm

Having not seen the independent film Brokeback Mountain, I really don't have an opinion on the movie itself or the quality of it. But when I read that it will have explicit sex scenes, it doesn't make me want to see it. It's not because they're gay sex scenes (although I'll admit, that doesn't help), but because I'm not a big fan of movie sex scenes in general. I don't think this out of prudery so much as that they rarely add anything substantive to the film. Showing a full-out love-making session hardly ever advances the plot or helps develop the characters in any meaningful way that a substantially shorn down or intimated version couldn’t impart. Some people excuse them by saying that's real life, which to me doesn't help considering that 95% of movies don't portray real life. Nor do sex scenes portray how real sex is had. There are also plenty of real-life events (some of which I may do) that I don’t care to see. I’m familiar with the real-life experience of taking a dump, for example, and so is nearly everybody else on the planet, but that doesn’t mean that I care to see it portrayed in the theatre (except, perhaps for comedic effect).

Movie-makers don’t normally use sex scenes for the story’s sake, they instead use them as an opportunity to spark popular interest in their film through prurient interest, or to create buzz in that somebody is being honest about sex! That's why this movie is already irritating me.

And there's this:

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS critic Jack Mathews predicts the gay cowboy movie, which takes place in Wyoming, may be "too much for red-state audiences, but it gives the liberal-leaning Academy a great chance to stick its thumb in conservatives' eyes."

Gosh, considering how low the box office revenues have been, it seems like a great idea to poke red states in the eye. Brokeback Mountain certainly seems like an idea right out of the liberal playbook. Take a manly icon, turn him gay (which is not traditionally seen as manly), show that they're still manly, and throw in explicit sex scenes on the excuse of being "real" and "honest." Then wag fingers at anybody who doesn't like it and accuse them of being intolerant. We can soon expect similar films about bikers, policemen, construction workers, and Indian chiefs. Then all the Village People will have been worked through and the manly icons they mocked brought low for the sake of realism. There have certainly been gay cowboys, but that’s not the point of this film. The choice of a manly icon that is representative of country folks and rural red state America (not to mention the current White House occupant) was not coincidental. This is liberals taking a shot at the red stater’s perception of themselves.

There's also this prescient bit from a South Park episode:

Cartman: No dude, independent films are those black and white hippie movies. They're always about gay cowboys eating pudding.

Wendy: No they're not. Independent films are produced outside the Hollywood system. They're movies without all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Cartman: Well, you show me one independent film that isn't about gay cowboys eating pudding.

No word on if there's pudding in the movie.


Gun Control

Filed under: General,Politics,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 6:45 pm

The new James Bond, Daniel Craig, will have one slight problem playing 007: he doesn't like guns.

I hate handguns. Handguns are used to shoot people and as long as they are around, people will shoot each other.

That's a simple fact. I've seen a bullet wound and it was a mess. It was on a shoot and it scared me. Bullets have a nasty habit of finding their target and that's what's scary about them.

Hmmm, yes, very enlightening, Mr. Craig. He makes it seem like people getting shot is necessarily a bad thing. In the case of self-defense, home/business protection, and defense of innocents, it's actually a good thing. I should also point out that a gun is just a machine. Admittedly, a unique machine in that its purpose is to cause physical harm when used correctly, but still just a machine. It takes human operators to use them, and it's the intent of those operators that can make the weapons truly dangerous to innocent parties. In other words, don't fear the firearm, fear the person wielding it. Since good people are ordinarily not a threat to other good people, good people need not worry about them. They need worry about bad people and when bad folks come calling with a gun, it's best that the good people be similarly armed.

Another thing about the gun control debate is that obfuscation of statistics. The pro-gun control side likes to cite statistics about gun deaths in the United States. They're not very honest about them, though. The first slight of hand is that they'll talk about how many deaths there are, but they fail to split out how they were used. That is, they lump together homicides, suicides, self-defense, accidents, home/business protection, cops killing criminals, and criminals killing criminals (often gang-warfare). Some of these are obviously bad gun deaths, but others are "good." I consider a gun death resulting from self-defense to be in favor of guns, not against them. The other trick they pull is lumping both 18 and 19 year olds under the category of "children." This enables gun control advocates to make it seem as if many more little kids are being killed than is the case. Due to gang violence, the 18-19 male age range tends to have a lot of gun deaths and so this greatly inflates the "problem" of children dying by guns when they're included.

If you go to this CDC page (which is great fun for pulling stats on all sorts of deaths by different means), you will find that in 2002, there were 30,242 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2002. That's 10.51 deaths for every 100,000 people. Seems bad. Now let's play with the options.

Out of that 30,242 762 were unintentional (accidents). 11,829 were homicides. 300 were legal intervention. 17,108 were suicides. The intent of the remaining 243 couldn't be determined. So you see if you just leave it at 30,242, the problem seems nasty. When you realize that the majority of those were suicides, though, it's far less problematic. That's a person turning the gun on himself and who would have killed himself regardless.

Now for the ages. If we look at gun homicide deaths for the ages of 1-17, we get 863 results. The number for 18-19 year olds is 958. So by counting 18-19 year olds as "children," we can more than double the number of gun homicide deaths of children. Sneaky, eh?

So when partisan groups start throwing around statistics as concerns guns, don't always believe 'em. Check them out for yourself.

The Hypocrisy of the Oppressed

Filed under: Politics,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 2:13 am

One of the problems with the oppression industry is that minority groups tend to impose an ideological hegemony on its group's members. Being "black" is no longer just a matter of being of African descent or having certain physical characteristics. It means that one must adopt a particular ideology; for blacks, this means endorsing affirmative action, believing in systemic racism, being a liberal Democrat, etc. If you don't ascribe to this ideology, then you simply aren't “black” and are fair game for insults.

Such is the case with Maryland's Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. He's a conservative Republican, and since he doesn't toe the ideological line that all real blacks must toe, other black politicians have openly labeled him an “Uncle Tom” and have gone so far as to throw oreos at him (black on the outside, but white on the inside). Recently on one website, this photoshopped image was made of him, along with the caption "I’s Simple Sambo and I’s running for the Big House":


Clearly, some of the worst use of hateful racist imagery possible. If a white person had produced such filth, they would be duly pilloried. Because a fellow African-American made it, though, and because it's about a black conservative, it's supposed to be ok. This isn't at all a new phenomenon; it's been going on for years.

Not long ago, I took a grad level course on feminism and general oppression theory. I found much of it wanting. Below is a reprinting of a section of the final paper I wrote for that class (the entire thing was 16 pages, so just an excerpt will do even though you don't see the whole argument). It's formal writing, not blog writing and should be a nice change of pace for ya. I point out several other instances of discrimination of minorities against their own for not being ideologically pure and include several illustrations of it. Here it is:

The second instantiation of the improper exit strategy is that a minority group will cast off the ideology of the dominant group and in so doing will create an ideological hegemony within and on the group itself. The result is that belonging to the group is not due to conventional markers, e.g. race, sexuality, gender, etc. Rather, the identity of the group is to be found in a particular ideology. Those who adopt the ideology are identified as being a part of the group, those who do not adopt the ideology or whose ideas are counter to it are identified as not belonging to the group.

One of the aspects of oppression is that it uses ideology as a controlling factor of other groups. That is, the dominant group will impart a certain ideology and way of being onto other groups that identifies them as being inferior in some way. Hill Collins discusses it thus,

“Ideology refers to the body of ideas reflecting the interests of a group of people. Within U.S. culture, racist and sexist ideologies permeate the social structure to such a degree that they become hegemonic, namely, seen as natural, normal, and inevitable.”
(Hill Collins, Patricia. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge, 2000. p.5)

Thus, the dominant white culture will compose an ideology that sees blacks as being inferior to whites, such as perceiving black women as “mammies, jezebels, and breeder women of slavery to the smiling Aunt Jemimas on pancake mix boxes, ubiquitous Black prostitutes, and ever-present welfare mothers…” (Ibid.)

One of the primary goals of liberation is to cast off these oppressive hegemonic ideologies and replace them with positive ideologies based in how the group perceives itself (Ibid. p.72,99). Indeed, in discussing the ideologies of black women, Hill Collins claims that the hegemony of the dominant ideology is never so great as to firmly take root and become the ideology of how black women perceive themselves. The goal is to combat this ideology openly and in the greater culture (Ibid. pp.100-102, 112-121).

In so doing, however, the ideological hegemony of the dominant group is thrown off and a new one is put in its place. This new ideology helps to define what it means to be a person of that particular identity. As a result, the ideology becomes the defining characteristic of the group instead of the what we normally consider to be the pertinent maker. For example, to be “black” does not mean to have high melanin content in one’s skin, but to abide by certain orthodoxies, e.g. affirmative action or race preferences. Those who do not agree with this are often given labels such as “uncle tom,” “race-traitor,” or “sell-out.” And we have the opportunity to see this dynamic at work in actual politics. Below is a list of quotes and even a few images demonstrating the effect of marginalizing those who should ostensibly belong to a particular identity, but are denied it. The pictures are especially interesting in that they use very racist imagery to make their point. Some are from academic theorists, some are from activists, and some are from political operatives.

The first Bush administration’s most prominent “race traitor” a decade ago was unquestionably
Clarence Thomas. Since his 1991 appointment as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, Thomas has consistently voted against affirmative action, civil rights, and social policies designed to advance the interests of the truly disadvantaged. Some of Thomas’s closest personal friends are Attorney General John Ashcroft and Solicitor General Theodore Olson in the Bush administration—in fact, Thomas even officiated at Olson’s wedding….
One might condemn Clarence Thomas as an “Uncle Tom,” but that would be an insult to “Uncle Toms.” Thomas, the “race traitor,” unfortunately represents a growing list of conservative blacks who actively oppose the black community’s interests.
-Manning Marble, African-American Studies professor at Columbia University
(Marble, Manning. “Bush’s Blacks: Race Traitors.” Manning Marble. September 2002.)

In the field of foreign affairs, the leading race traitor, hands down, is Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s National Security Adviser…
At the end of the day, the conservative race traitors have nothing to offer the African-American community are symbols of personal upward mobility without the substance of collective empowerment and group development.
-Manning Marble

“He’s married to a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn’t want to be black.”
-California state senator Diane Watson on black anti-affirmative action activist Ward Connerly
(Wallace, Amy. “Connerly, Sen. Watson Engage in Shouting Match.” Los Angeles Times. February 21, 1996. p.A3.)

-11/17/04 comic by Pat Oliphant, Pulitzer Prize winner and “widely syndicated”

-10/4/04 comic by Jeff Danziger

-cover of November 1996 issue of Emerge magazine

In each of these cases, the offending party, Clarence Thomas, Condaleeza Rice, etc., are characterized as either not being black or as being some horrible servile black caricature. Either way, they are being represented as not being a part of the black identity. Because they do not abide by the proper ideology of what it means to be black, they are unfairly treated, grossly personified, and their positions are largely ignored because of it. They are not “black.”

End excerpt.

(submitted to Wizbang's carnival of trackbacks)

Want more?
Visit Michelle Malkin here and here, Pete the Elder, Deroy Murdock's excellent piece on NRO, Ninth State, Captain's Quarters, and Conservatives Anonymous


Texas Prop. 2

Filed under: Politics,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 3:01 pm

Next week, Texans will be voting on a proposed state constitutional amendment (prop. 2) that will ban same-sex marriage.

I'm against the proposition. While I'm opposed to gay marriage, I'm in favor of same kind of limited partnership/civil unions/whatever-you-want-to-call-it for homosexuals. The problem with prop. 2 is that the language is simply too broad. It reads:

The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage. [italics mine]

I'm ok with the first part about one man and one woman. The part about not recognizing any legal status identical to marriage makes me slightly uneasy but I might be able to support it. The last part, though, about not recognizing any legal status similar to marriage is nonsense. 'Similar' is far too broad and too vague a term that can be used to prohibit damn near anything. Regardless of the morality of the relationship (I'm not making a claim about what the morality is here, just that it's not relevant), if two people are committed to each other, then they should be allowed to visit each other in the hospital, share in certain benefits, easily inherit property upon one party's death, etc. Under the language of prop. 2, however, homosexuals could be denied legal recognition of such privileges because they represent a status that is "similar" to marriage in some regard (it could, I think, even be used to withdraw any such benefits that are currently granted to gay couples).

That one word makes this proposition a complete non-starter for me and I advise all Texans to vote against this.


Jerry Jones on the Saints and Another Stadium Rant

Filed under: General,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 12:35 am

Concerning the Saints’ wondering in the wilderness, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said:

We have to address the basic situation for the people of New Orleans and the conditions there. There's no solution today that's acceptable. Football has been an inspiration to people who have other troubles. There are problems throughout New Orleans and Louisiana. We owe it to those people not to take football from them.

If he said more, this was all that was quoted and is somehow the basis of a 400 word article. I guess some AP hack had a deadline since this tells us nothing. And while he seems to be for keeping the Saints in New Orleans, apparently he also intimated he wouldn't care if they went to San Antonio.

Speaking of Jerry, though, the city of Arlington, TX, which is quickly trying to amass all entertainment offerings in Texas (it currently has the Rangers, the original Six Flags, a large water park, and soon the Cowboys) is busy clearing away all the homes and apartments inconveniently located on the site of the Cowboys' new stadium. See, last November, Jerry suckered Arlingtonians into coughing up $325 million in various taxes to build him a new sports palace. The Cowboys franchise is worth about $851 million (I'm sure it could get more than that on the market), has annual revenues of $198 million and earnings of $52 million. Since Jones is the sole owner of the team, that means that's all his money and he's currently worth $1.1 billion. He could have built his own damn stadium or taken out a loan for it.

You folks in Arlington are complete suckers. You agreed to help build a billionaire a new facility that will be used almost exclusively to generate more profit for him. I know I've ranted about this before, but I just don't understand it. If Donald Trump rolled into town and said he wanted to build a big new $700 million office building, but wanted the taxpayers to fork over half of that, they'd tell him to get lost. So why don’t they do that with the stadiums! At least high-rise office buildings attract businesses and corporations and well-paying jobs, and they get used almost every day. Football stadiums get fully used 8 days a year and aside for some of the players on the field, attract low-paying concessions, janitorial, and ticketing jobs. It simply does not make sense that citizens will agree to pay for this kind of corporate welfare when they get so little in return.

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