John McCain gets his turn in the Republican super-hero persona Republi-Con. The Press is very impressed.
After it was announced that yet another killer cop was going to walk without so much as a trial, Roxane Gay put out a suggestion for an editorial cartoon. I’m not sure I can fairly describe this as “collaboration,” but whatever it is, I was excited to be part of it.
It’s a weird/shitty thing about drawing editorial cartoons that you sometimes do your best work in response to the worst things happening in the world, but that’s the nature of the art form. It’s not often you get a chance to impress someone you really admire, and as awful as this verdict (and this day) are, it felt really good to hear she liked it.
There’s a second version with a word balloon, and at first I didn’t know which I liked better. The more I look at it, the more I prefer this version.
This is a work in progress. It has not yet been ratified (at least not officially), and as such suggested amendments are welcome.
A business proprietor shall have the right to refuse service to any patron for any reason
(a) except when the reason is that the patron is carrying a loaded firearm;
(1) unless the patron is African-American.
A business shall be free to operate independent of government regulation
(a) except record labels, movie studios, publishers, broadcasters, and anyone else who might print or publish dirty words or ladynipples.
A for-profit business is a religious institution, and entitled to religious freedom
(a) except Muslim businesses, which shouldn’t be built where they might offend Christians
(b) abortion clinics, contraceptive providers, and porn shops: see Article 4(a)
A business, as a person, has a right to free and unrestricted speech
(a) provided said speech takes the form of:
(2) Campaign contributions or advertising
In a time of national crisis, a corporation has the right to control what the public knows without interference from the press or regulatory bodies
When it is good for profits, a business may seize property from unincorporated persons
Nothing in this enumerated list should be interpreted to limit the rights of businesses in the quest for ever-expanding profits.
Photo credit: James Manners. Used under Creative Commons license.
As a rule these days I try to avoid investing time and energy in online debates, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Yesterday I got sucked into a debate at the Matt Walsh Blog about Arizona’s rightly-vetoed Senate Bill 1062, the “Turn Away the Gay” bill. I was more than a little startled by the outpouring of right-wing support for SB 1062 that followed Governor Brewer’s veto, and the arguments mounted at MWB grabbed me because they were especially heinous.
For starters, of course, there’s the standard refrain of the straight, white cisgendered libertarian male: “The solution is simple, just don’t do anything.” In this case, Walsh argues that the proper solution to anti-gay discrimination is for the government to do nothing, and the free market will eradicate discrimination. I’m not even going to spend a lot of time refuting this position because (a) it’s so incredibly stupid; and (b) if you’re here reading, you probably already agree that it’s incredibly stupid, so I won’t waste your time. Let’s just agree that if LBJ were alive, we could all share a hearty laugh about what a fantasy world some libertarians live in.
The reason I write about it here is to point out how ludicrous it is to call SB 1062, or the many similar bills in other states, “Religious Freedom Laws.” The so-called ‘right’ of Christian business proprietors to turn away LGBT people is presented as a protection of their religious observation. A government mandate to treat LGBT customers identically with other customers is, according to the bill’s defenders, a tyrannical denial of religious liberty. This is absurd on several levels. Continue Reading
There’s been a lot of discussion of health care around here recently, and not nearly as much about the War on Drugs. That’s a shame. It’s at least as colossal and destructive a failure as health care, and it won’t change in any meaningful way without a massive public outcry. Make no mistake, though: We can end the War on Drugs, and end the catastrophic damage it is doing to our country and our society, in a virtual instant. All we have to do is legalize, regulate, and tax all drugs.
Now don’t stop reading. I already know what you’re thinking, and I’m not a pot enthusiast or a user of illegal drugs. Honestly. I’m one of the rare few for whom “Just Say No” did the trick. In fact, I was a staunch opponent of legalization until a single presentation, made by a police officer, changed my mind. Stick with me for a few paragraphs, and I’ll see if I can win you over too.
For starters, you have to accept a few basic facts: Continue Reading
So NYC’s “Cannibal Cop” Gilberto Valle stands convicted, and he’ll do time for…what? The fact that seems to have eluded a lot of people, because people are busy and often just read the headlines, is that the “Cannibal Cop” never ate anyone. He never killed anyone, or abducted anyone, or injured anyone. What he did, and the reason he is going to prison, is described by some people as “plotting,” by others as “fantasizing.”
This isn’t a post about the Cannibal Cop, not exactly. That said, I’ll point you to the excellent reporting being done on the story by by Daniel Engber at Slate. What’s important, for this conversation, is that you become aware of a fetish community, one that’s found a real life online, called “vore.”
Vore is complicated, but put very simply it’s a sexual fetish that involves eating people, seeing people being eaten, or being eaten oneself. It’s often depicted in cartoons or stories, is often cartoonish in that the “eaten” person is eaten whole and not killed, and often speaks from inside the belly of the eater, and if you’ve come across it accidentally, vore is odd and somewhat baffling. It’s also, according to one theory, the reason Gilberto Valle is going to prison. Continue Reading
So a high school principal in Tennessee, Dorothy Bond, was using the PA system to preach about Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. She was holding assemblies to tell her students that gay people “weren’t on God’s path” and were “going to hell.” She promised 60-day suspensions for any students guilty of same-sex PDAs. She also told female students that if they got preganant their lives would be over, and that they would end up “jobless, homeless, and living off the government.”
So then the ACLU found out, and we sent the school district a letter. Three hours later, Dorothy Bond was unemployed.
Dan Savage says: “The ACLU means business, and they will fuck you up.”
What a way to end the week. I’ll be walking on air all the way home.
I was blacked out last Wednesday [well, I wasn’t — my web site was] in web solidarity against internet censorship, so my three readers had to go elsewhere for their information on house centipedes [seriously, it drives like 90% of my search engine traffic]. You already know about SOPA and PIPA and why they must be stopped, so I won’t bore you by restating. How incredible to watch last Wednesday as public awareness skyrocketed, prompting cosponsors to drop off and kill a bill in what was essentially a few hours. I work in public interest and let me tell you, things don’t work that way most of the time. It was definitely one of those “Uh-oh, you woke up the Internet” moments.
As an author, and one who hopes to one day make writing my sole source of income, I have a vested interest in copyright law. I believe in copyright, and I recognize that the whole idea of a creative industry is reliant on intellectual property law. More than being illegal, I view piracy as morally wrong – at least, when it’s an artist trying to earn a living from whom you are pirating. However, to put large corporations in charge of deciding what is or is not a violation of copyright is just totally ludicrous.
Corporations cannot be trusted with IP decisions. Has everyone forgotten when Disney tried to trademark “Seal Team Six,” the name of a Navy Seal division? Marvel and DC Comics co-own a trademark on the term “Superhero.” Whole industries have sprung up around buying photo copyrights and suing unknowing bloggers. Corporations have no belief in education, parody, satire, critique, or any other fair use. Their only interest is in protecting their valuable property.
As much as I care about copyright, and the right of the artist to compensation, I also believe in maintaining an open forum for discussion and a free exchange of ideas. As an author, I recognize that readers are going to share my work around – whether lending books, or even in some cases reproducing them. Hell, I don’t just recognize it, I hope for it. Not only because it potentially creates more fans to purchase my products, but because I believe in a world where people can share things like art and music with friends, without having to treat that act as a financial transaction.
Which brings us to Jonathan Coulton, and his thoughts on both the SOPA/PIPA issue and the US Government’s ensuing shut-down of Megaupload. Coulton [whose work on Portal alone was enough to make me a fan] points out that, really, the business model we’re defending has been around a relatively short time, and there is no God-given right to make money from making art:
It so happens that technological and societal blahbity bloos have conspired to create a situation where selling songs about monkeys and robots is a viable business, but for most of human history people have NOT paid for art. I don’t want this to happen again, and I would be very sad if this came to pass, but it’s not up to me to decide.
This is pretty on-the-nose, frankly. As sad as I would be to see my dreams of writing for a living go up in smoke [really, really sad – so keep that in mind before you pull the new Lady Gaga track down off Frostwire], it’s the nature of the business and the era we are all living through and shaping. I want to make a living doing what I love, but I don’t want it enough to justify a law that hamstrings free expression and the free exchange of ideas. Sony and Disney and Comcast might think their dollars are worth more than our collective minds. I just don’t happen to agree.