xenologer: (human monsters)
I stumbled across this interesting article that focuses on students firing on their own schools, but which might be generalizable to some extent to other instances of "suicide by mass murder." It's only fifteen pages long, but it's worth a read.

There is something wrong with our culture, and while the proliferation of guns determines the expression of it, the problem with our culture needs to be addressed for itself.

Suicide by mass murder: Masculinity, aggrieved entitlement, and rampage school shootings
In this theoretical essay, we examine school shootings that culminate in the suicide of the assailant(s). We do so to elucidate how the culture of hegemonic masculinity available to young American men encourages the use of violence to avenge a perceived challenge to their masculine identity. When these attacks to one’s masculine identity affect someone to the point of suicidal ideation, committing mass murder can be an instrumental way to achieve a sense of power; and framing one’s suicide with violence and aggression may serve to make it appear a more potent act.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Facebook is annoying me right now. Lots of sad people, doing a whole lot of nothing. In case you didn't hear about it, there was a brutal shooting in which a guy opened fire in an elementary school and killed 27 people. If I recall the breakdown properly, 20 were kids. 6 were adults. 1 was himself.

Here's a list of nonprofits that are involved in Newtown, supporting those affected by the shooting. If you can give to one of them, that's great, but if not please do pass this around so that the information will get to more people who can give. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/connecticut-elementary-school-shooting-how-to-help_n_2302760.html They're providing things like counseling, which you know that whole community's going to need.

Just to give you more options, since I know people like to do different stuff, here's another great project to support. http://www.nurserycrimes.org/

Nursery Crimes will be a film that examines the root cause of sociopathic and violent behavior in our society. We don't just go to the prisons or gun manufacturers, we go directly to the heart of the problem - the children who were trained to hate.

A PORTION OF NET PROFITS OF THIS FILM WILL BE DIVIDED AMONGST ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE ON THE FRONT LINES OF SOLVING THIS PROBLEM.

Hope something in here is useful. I wanted to make sure I got these options some visibility. So yeah this one goes out to all you sad people.

Do something. One thing you can do is share this breakdown of nonprofits that are working in Newtown to help those affected so that more people will see the list and hopefully some more support will go their way. Give if you can, and if you can't, you can still do something besides cry or complain about (insert political party you've never liked).

It is a raw spot for me when people make a big emotional fuss over something and then don't do jack shit. Without action, all this talk about how sad we are about Newtown, CT and how we hurt with the victims of this shooting? Self-indulgent melodramatic disaster porn.

Share the links. Be useful. If your excuse before was, "I don't know what I can do to help!" you just lost it. Now is the part where you contribute constructively. If you're not willing to help the people affected, stop pretending to anybody that it's about them. If it's really about them, do something for them. Now.

It doesn't have to be one of the things I have linked, but do something or quit the hired mourner act. Nobody's paying you to wail and rend your hair, because nobody actually benefits from you doing it.

Weepy inaction is still inaction.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons: We throw thousands of men in the hole for the books they read, the company they keep, the beliefs they hold. Here's why. -By Shane Bauer

Solitary confinement is ruinous for human sanity, which makes it a crappy rehabilitation tool. Additionally, you can end up in solitary for pretty shady reasons.

As warden of San Quentin Prison in the 1980s, Daniel Vasquez oversaw what was then the country's largest SHU. He's now a corrections consultant and has testified on behalf of inmates seeking to reverse their validations. As we sat in his suburban Bay Area home, he told me it is "very common" for African American prisoners who display leadership qualities or radical political views to end up in the SHU. (...)

[A] judge ruled that "a prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongfully accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest." In other words, it is not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary.


Read the whole article before you come say something in the comments. Yes, all four pages.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Someone I was FB friends with posted this:

SO SOME STUPID MOTHER FUCKERS THINK THAT THEY ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE ONES ON THE FRONT LINE THAT THEY BREAK OFF FROM THOSE OF US ON THE FRONT LINE TO MAKE THEIR OWN "OCCUPY"....HOW MUCH SOLIDARITY IS THERE IN THAT....YOU TALK SHIT THEN RUN THE FUCK AWAY....YOU FUCKING COWARDS....WHEN THE TEARGAS AND RUBBER BULLETS BEGIN TO FLY....YOU BITCH ASS MOTHER FUCKERS WILL BE "OCCUPYING" YOU FUCKING COMPUTERS


I answered, "I know why I stopped attending, but I strongly doubt you're interested in hearing why."

He replied, "would love to ashley" and "so you dont know as much about me as you think"

I posted the following status on my own wall.

I am immediately unfriending all of the cockbags who think that distancing myself from the dangerously unstable and, yes, violent people who've latched onto the Indianapolis occupation makes me a bad activist. Newsflash: Women and people of color are always asked to put up with danger from their fellow activists "for the cause," and that is what you are asking. If you don't value my safety, you don't get my help.


Before I unfriended that person in accordance with my statement, I saw that he had liked the status. The guy who called us "fucking cowards."

Fuck you. You are an entire bag of dicks.

I would really like to try and help the new occupation group be founded on some different attitudes, but that's just a hope. I am not certain of my success. I mean, I can start the conversation, but if the only people I have to talk to are guys like this? I don't know.

Fucking stupid.

In the interests of being productive, does anybody have good links to offer so that I can provide reading material to some of my fellow occupiers? I have a friend who has been hooking me up, but if you've read something especially good that you want a bunch of white liberal activists to be reading, I've got some that I'd like to pass them on to.
xenologer: (unlikely weapon)
Upon reading the afterword to Letter to a Christian Nation I got to thinking about blood sacrifice. It's not necessary for you to read this link, and I'm not even necessarily wanting a discussion about the link; I'm just giving context.

Here's where my head is right now, though. In the days when Judaism and Christianity were having their major cultural foundations laid, the people depicted in the Scriptures in question were certainly a product of their times. Those people had certain expectations about how exchanges with supernatural beings worked. There was an unquestioned assumption about the rightful place of blood sacrifice that we really don't tend to have today. The assumption was that blood was a (literal or symbolic) manifestation of life itself, and that giving this to a divine figure would please it.

From this widespread assumption seems to spring everything from Abel's sheep to Abraham's son to Jesus himself. Without the assumption that blood sacrifice and offerings of live creatures is pleasing to a deity, the whole system falls apart. It seems to me that part of the reason why the "Jesus Christ died for your sins" narrative falls flat for a lot of people is that a lot of people just don't understand anymore why there was anything about that in "the rules" to begin with. They don't even understand why YHWH wants blood, let alone how big a deal it was that his own son was offered up. The "why" of it is lost because we aren't supposed to give blood to our gods anymore. Aside: if you think blood sacrifice is still considered part of polite religious worship, consider how afraid people are of Santeria for doing what Jewish and Christian scriptures clearly state gods want us to do.

For me personally, this means that while the "God spilled the blood of his only-begotten son to pay the blood debt humanity owed for their sins" narrative had broad resonance at the time (because basically every culture shared the assumption that a sin was a debt owed to the gods which could be repaid in blood), it has no meaning or place in societies where blood sacrifice is considered something that "savages" (word used with full scare quotes because I'm an anthropologist and can't say "savages" unironically anymore) do. If Christianity is dying, it is because the most central assumption that makes the whole thing work just doesn't have any relevance anymore.

Now, I'm anticipating somebody with a Christian background saying, "Well, the crucifixion was such a badass sacrifice that it ended the time of blood sacrifice, and nobody ever need repay YHWH in blood again." I think this is dodging the issue. The issue is that your potential converts probably don't understand why there ever needed to be a sacrifice in the first place, because they weren't raised to believe that blood sacrifice is Just What People Do. These people need to be convinced first that blood sacrifice is a natural and desirable thing, and I don't think Christians can make that case. Please feel free to prove me wrong if I'm underestimating you.

If the rule is that divine powers can be propitiated with blood, whose rule is that? Did YHWH make that rule, or is it a rule totally external to YHWH by which YHWH is bound? Seems most likely to me that it's the latter. It's a rule external to YHWH by which YHWH is bound because that's how humans thought they had to be interacting with gods. YHWH is a god. Therefore we have to interact with it by giving it blood. If we really seriously screw up big time or just really want to say "I love you" in a big way, we have to give YHWH particularly awesome blood.

For ancient people this was a serious "well duh" sort of a thing, but lots of people don't think like this anymore. Even the idea that someone else can rightly pay for the sins of another is considered unjust and barbaric by lots and lots of people. For Christianity to remain relevant, then the practice of valuing blood sacrifice has to be explained, justified, and thereby preserved for your religion to even be intelligible to modern people. Can you?
xenologer: (Speak)
Dana Hunter, one of my favorite bloggers, has decided to write up what might be the best take-down of John McCain's insistence that his experience as a POW exempts him from all criticism.

It's here, and I think that by quoting it only in part I'm doing it a disservice, but I know that most of you won't read it if you don't at least see a sample bit.

Being a rape survivor does not make me an unimpeachable expert on rape, the combatting thereof, and all things remotely related to it. Being a POW does not make John McCain an expert on war, the fighting thereof, and all things remotely related to it. It apparently doesn't even make him an expert on torture, because if it had, he wouldn't have worked so hard to allow America to engage in it. (Imagine me redefining my rape as somehow "not rape" so that sexual violence could be legally perpetrated against women. Morally repugnant? I think so. But that's essentially what McCain has done.)

(snip)

Being a rape survivor does not mean I get to claim that I'm a better person than my opponents because I survived rape and they didn't. McCain is no better than the people he smears - in fact, he's far less of a good man than they are. If we're going to be claiming higher ground by virtue of our travails, we'd better be fucking standing on it.

I can't use my status as a rape survivor to disclaim responsibility for the actions I take, the things I say, the people I hurt, and all my many failures. It infuriates me that McCain thinks this status as a POW allows him to do all of that and so much more.

Get it? Go read.

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