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Some thoughts on SOPA and PIPA from a non-US citizen

Firstly, may I say congratulations to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector for creating one of the biggest showings of unity I've seen online in nigh twelve years of using the internet. Couldn't have done it without you guys, although I'm sure you're hating to see it happen.

Secondly: a word of warning to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector, as well as to Mr Murdoch's News Corporation and any other group who thinks these acts are Good Things overall. Should they go through, SOPA and PIPA aren't going to reduce the amount of copyright piracy occurring online by one tittle or jot. Yes, they may black out sections of the web, temporarily. But the pirates aren't going to let that stop them - they get their jollies from working around things like this in the first fscking place.

I foresee a certain amount of revival for a few of the older internet communications protocols - newsgroups may see something of a resurgence, along with mailing lists, and other forms of communication which aren't hosted by a single site, but which rather exist as an amorphous entity of ever-changing data being passed around from host to host, like the prize in a gigantic online game of pass-the-parcel. Good luck dealing with those, guys; I seem to remember that the thing which eventually took down a lot of the alt.binaries newsgroups wasn't any effort from the MPAA and the RIAA, but rather that web hosting was cheap, readily available, and distributed file sharing networks could handle things without too much strain.

But hey, guys, feel free to try and take down global email using lawyers if you really fancy re-running the labours of Heracles. Try killing NNTP. Have fun. It'll keep you all busy for a bit.

As has been said repeatedly: the internet as a whole, as an emergent entity, interprets censorship of just about any kind as damage, and figures out ways to route around it.

Thirdly: even if the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector should get their will, and kill the internet deader than a dead thing in a graveyard, I still won't be connecting my television up to the aerial or purchasing a Foxtel subscription. I still won't be turning on the radio to anything other than the ABC. I still won't be going to the movies. I still won't be buying any Australian newspapers on a regular basis. I still won't be getting magazines from Australian Consolidated Press or the News Corporation stables. And I won't be spending any money on those things for the same damn reason I don't spend money on them now: I refuse to let my money go where I'm not welcome. The news and entertainment sector here in Australia doesn't want to cater to me as a viewer, listener or reader, they just want to sell me as a potential set of eyeballs to advertisers. As a person, I'm not welcome in their world.

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location: Outside the USA
Current Mood: irritated irritated
It Isn't Real Until It Affects White Americans - Where the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement Started

There's a lot being written about Occupy Wall Street, and a lot being written about the copycat protests which are now springing up in a lot of other countries (including Australia). There isn't as much spoken or written about where the movement to occupy city areas and public spaces, and calling for a renegotiation of the social contract as it is interpreted by the powerful, actually got started, and where it's been flourishing for the better part of a year.

It started in Egypt, in Tariq Square (where it's still ongoing, to the best of my knowledge). Occupation-style protests have been happening in Iceland, in Spain, in Greece, and in a lot of other European countries since at least June this year. And they're still going on there. See this list of articles from Pressenza to get a better idea of the scope of the actual demonstrating, both in terms of global spread, and temporal spread.

However, there appears to be this strong media (and now internet) -fed meme which says something isn't actually "real" until it affects white citizens of the USA - preferably white, middle-class, male, heterosexual Christian citizens of the USA. Unless they're affected, unless they're doing it, whatever's going on in the rest of the world doesn't matter. The global economic crisis didn't affect anyone (even though the economies of many countries were affected for months, or indeed years, before the US banking system was forced to own up to its iniquities at the end of 2008) until it affected the USAlien middle classes. Various World Wars didn't actually "start", in the opinion of hegemonic popular culture, (despite the involvement and devastation of multiple countries) until the USA sent troops. Poverty in the USA didn't exist until it started lapping at the toes of the middle classes (despite the presence of a growing underclass of persons who were born into poverty, and who have lived their entire lives in poverty, and who could not escape their poverty no matter how hard they tried, since approximately the Reagan years) and more particularly the white middle classes.

It's nice that the USAlien middle classes have apparently finally decided they're part of the world majority. It's nice that they're finally joining in with the rest of the people on the planet to demand a bit of equity, and a bit of fairness.

It would be even nicer if they would just, for once, publicly acknowledge that the problems existed before they'd noticed them or been affected by them; that the movement they've joined (and effectively hijacked) existed before they started to participate; that they were, once again, late to the party, and only joining in once other people had got things started. It would be really good to have this acknowledgement that not everything happens in a vacuum, and that the world outside the window of the USAlien white middle classes is actually present. It would be really good if the ongoing efforts of people outside the USA to renegotiate the social contract weren't erased, or ignored.

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Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
Rallying Cries

Whadda we want? "Different ancestors"

When do we want it? "A couple of hundred years or so back, when it would have made a difference"

Not the rallying cry of the century, is it? But that's what should be screamed up at the windows of Wall Street; it's what should be rattling the windows of the privileged around the world.

One of the dirty little secrets which isn't often aired about the upper echelons of the rich and powerful (particularly in the USA, where the myth that anyone can come from dirt poor to stinking rich in a generation is still a powerful memeplex, peddled by extremely powerful myth-building corporations) is that by and large, they got where they are now by building on the gains of their ancestors. They didn't get where they were from nothing. They didn't pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. They pulled themselves up using a rope braided from the bootstraps of many ancestors, over countless generations, on both sides of their families, and reinforced by the bootstraps of countless non-family members as well. In the ranks of the extremely powerful, there's often a certain degree of both metaphorical and literal kinship.

Another dirty little secret: the secret to getting rich quick is to get rich slowly, over three or four generations, and then explode on the scene, flashing the wealth in an obvious way. This isn't to say there aren't the occasional rapid accumulators - people whose financial, technological, scientific or marketing genius was in the right place at the right time, people whose cultural input hits the zeitgeist in the correct spot to send the jackpot rattling down - but they're as rare as the lottery millionaires or the ones who broke the banks in casinos. By and large, the ones who are at the top now are the ones whose ancestors have been accumulating steadily since the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.

It's different for the rich )

(Whadda we want? "Different ancestors"

When do we want 'em? "A couple hundred years ago, when it would have made a difference!")

It's different for the working-class )

Another dirty little secret of the rich and powerful: not many of them have had much exposure to people outside their social class in a context which isn't employment-related. So when they speak of the lives of ordinary people, it's usually from a position of profound ignorance. Marie Antoinette, when she said "let them eat cake" (or more accurately "well, why don't they eat cake instead?") was speaking from a similar position of ignorance - the ignorance of the very possibility of a reality where both bread and cake weren't in ready supply. So when they speak of how "simple" it is to make money, or stay debt-free, or whatever, it's because they really aren't aware of the full context of what's going on here. They've never had to learn that context, and for many of them, unless they absolutely have to face it, they never will learn that context.

They had the right ancestors, you see. Simple as that.

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: "Born At The Right Time" - Paul Simon
Some Thoughts from a Non-Economist regarding the Global Financial Crisis (Ongoing).

I'm starting to suspect what's needed is a global "Jubilee Year" - in the Old Testament sense. A single date, where everyone's debts are zeroed out, where all transgressions are forgiven, and where everyone starts again with a clean slate.

The banks will, of course, scream blue bloody murder at the slightest hint of this notion being taken seriously.

I also think that the way debt is thought of has to be restructured as well. A loan has to stop being a business asset for the banks, something they can trade from one person to another. Instead, it has to be an arrangement between two parties, to be maintained between those two parties until the loan has been paid back. So instead of trading loans as assets, businesses will be required to retain them as a mutual loss on both sides until the debt is paid back in full. No matter how long that takes.

The banks will, of course, scream blue bloody murder at the slightest hint of this notion being taken seriously.

There also needs to be a recognition that high interest rates and freely offered credit are inherently inflationary. They effectively increase the money supply, but devalue the money which is circulating, making the money earned by working people effectively worth less. So credit and high interest have to be heavily regulated, rather than offered on an "open slather" policy.

The banks will, of course, scream blue bloody murder at the slightest hint of this notion being taken seriously.

I'm also thinking the old Hebrew and Muslim thinkers who put up the religious prohibitions on lending at interest were actually onto something. Possibly they'd seen what happened in other societies when such things are permitted to flourish without restriction - the way it acted as a temptation toward bullying and thuggery. "The love of money is the root of all evil" as the wise man said.

Further on the whole "love of money" thing, I also feel there should be an absolute ceiling on profits - particularly the sorts of multi-billion dollar profits which aren't re-invested in the company or the community. I mean really - what are these companies doing with that money? They're not spending it. They're not turning it into bullion and stacking it under the back patio. They're not filling a swimming pool with banknotes so their executives can play Scrooge McDuck (or maybe they are and we're not hearing about it?). No, it's just being accumulated for the sake of accumulation. So maybe there needs to be a ceiling on profits, too - a 10% profit is fair and equitable (that being 10% gross return on investment), but after that, it needs to be either re-invested in the company, or taxed heavily (with the taxes being paid each financial year or face punitive fines).

And if that one ever gets taken seriously, not only the banks, but the entire business community will go up in flames.

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Signal Boost: Death Threats and Hate Crimes, Attacks on Women Bloggers Escalating

Read the full article at - if you get a 503 error, try reloading, because this one is getting a lot of different boosts here and there.

My position on the whole mess is simple: I don't know what the original argument is, was, or might have been about, and quite frankly, I don't give a damn, either. Death threats are bullying, pure and simple. Stalking is bullying. Threatening someone else with death, or grievous bodily harm, or mob action is bullying. And any form of bullying is abhorrent to me, as a bullying survivor.

I also think that the negative experiences described in this post: are a form of bullying. I find them just as abhorrent. I find them just as disgusting.

I am not a "free speech" campaigner. I believe in the idea of responsible speech - that we are all responsible for our words, for the ideas we espouse, for the things we say. I believe words have power, and we are responsible for the words we choose to express our thoughts. We cannot say that "words will never hurt you" and expect laws to have meaning. We cannot use "but I didn't mean it" as an excuse and expect our religious texts to retain their power to convince. We cannot excuse hatred with "it was just a joke".

Words have power. Words that express the spirit of mean-mindedness, words that threaten, words that are meant to be harmful, words that are meant to break someone's spirit, to pain them, to hurt them; those words have just as much power as words which are meant to help, to build up, to elevate, to make things better. I don't feel the first type of words have a legitimate place in any discussion, and quite honestly, I don't care how damn politically or socially incorrect that makes me.

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Current Mood: infuriated infuriated
An Open Letter to WA Senator Michaelia Cash, regarding the Carbon Tax

Dear Senator Cash,

My partner recently received your lovely little screed in the mail - the one about the carbon tax and how this is going to cost local employers and local industries vast amounts of money, and leave them vulnerable to excessive competition from overseas interest. You cited a total of ten companies which employed people in the electorate of Brand (or, more specifically, on the Kwinana industrial strip) by name. Curious, I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet.

Of the ten firms your leaflet mentioned by name, precisely two are actually based and headquartered here in Western Australia (Wesfarmers and Coogee Chemicals - both of which are fairly large companies). Of the rest, six are owned pretty much entirely by multi-national corporations. The other two are Australian-based, but one is based in Queensland, and the other is based in Melbourne.

To give you a quick run-down of the rest:

* BHP-Billiton is a joint Australian-Dutch company (so no, it's no longer the Big Australian, and you'll notice BHP-Billiton doesn't use that slogan any more);
* Alcoa is an alumininum mining and refining multinational firm, with the overall headquarters for the company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;
* Tiwest is a joint-venture between two Australian subsiduary companies of two different multinational firms - Tronox Incorporated (USA) and Exxaro Resources Limited (South Africa);
* BOC is part of the Linde Group, a large German-based multinational corporation;
* Air Liquide is part of the Air Liquide group, a multinational corporation first incorporated in France, and headquartered in Paris;
* Bradken (while having a wholly Australian company name) is actually owned by a combination of Castle-Harlan Australian Mezzanine Partners (a subsiduary of Castle Harlan, a US-based private equity firm); ESCO Corporation (US owned and based multinational) and Bradken Management (as minority shareholders);

Forgive me for seeming sceptical, but aren't these multi-national corporations exactly the sorts of international competition that your leaflet is implying our local industries and employers will be attempting to match? Given this information, I doubt they'll be having huge amounts of trouble.

(Incidentally, finding all this information took me approximately thirty minutes all up. It's amazing what you can find out from the internet. The information was on the websites of the companies concerned - all it took was a few seconds on google to find each one).

I took a look down the rest of the list of "facts" you provided, and noticed you failed to mention the various tax offsets which were planned (an important part of the carbon tax package) in order to compensate average Australian householders for the increased expense. Since these offsets and compensation are being introduced at the same time as the carbon tax, not mentioning them seems a little disingenuous, to say the least. Particularly since energy bills (both domestic and industrial) in WA have already risen by at least 10% thanks to the actions of the (Liberal) state government.

You failed to mention whether carbon emissions will continue to be rising by the same amount under a carbon tax package as is currently forecast. You failed to mention whether overall carbon emissions per capita will be rising, falling, or remaining steady (and whether there are any changes expected in the size of the Australian population between now and 2020 as well). You fail to mention whether the rise in carbon emissions overall between now and 2020 (from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes) will be a greater or lesser rise than the equivalent period between 2002 and now.

Your leaflet also fails to mention anywhere (a grievous omission, given your final "fact") that you, in fact, represent the political party which gave the Australian political environment the terms "Core" and "Non-Core" promises. It was the Liberal Party of Australia, under John Howard as Prime Minister, which made it excessively plain to the Australian people that the majority of political promises made by them during an election campaign were in fact "Non-Core" promises - or in other words, outright lies made in order to get elected.

I therefore find it somewhat hypocritical, to say the least, that it is the Liberal Party of Australia who are now harping non-stop on a single "broken" promise made by a member of the ALP.

(Again, this internet thingy is amazing.)

Having said all of this, here is my statement as a voter living in Brand, and a voter living in Western Australia.

I support the carbon tax as an overall good not only for people Parmelia, not only for people in Brand, but for people in Australia, and people the world over. Global climate change is occurring, and we here in the south-western corner of Western Australia have been seeing the effects of it for the past thirty years or more. Something needs to be done to at least begin to tackle the problem. The carbon tax may not be the optimum solution to the problem, but it's better than nothing.

I find the highly negative style of advertising, polling, and campaigning used by the Liberal Party of Australia to be highly offensive. The Liberal Party of Australia has a strong tendency to provide such negative statements particularly surrounding policy areas where their own solutions are lacking either in detail or in existence (I checked your party's website - the last constructive thing I can see about a climate change policy is dated almost a year ago - all the more recent stuff is basically slinging off at the ALP, without offering constructive solutions). I'd be more willing to at least listen to your side of the argument if your party showed any signs of willingness to either fish or cut bait. Instead, the Liberal Party of Australia gives the strong impression of a bunch of whiny toddlers who are sorely in need of being put down for a nap while the grown-ups get on with business.


Meg Thornton (Ms)

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Current Mood: quixotic quixotic
Current Music: "NPWA" - Billy Bragg and the Blokes

The scandal over the phone message data theft in the UK is terrible, and one of the questions which is being asked is "who is responsible?". Who is responsible for this terrible thing happening? Who should take the blame? Who should we punish?

Well, from one angle, the Murdoch family and their News Corporation bear at least some of the responsibility, for creating a news climate where such things can happen, where they can be tried, and where they can be covered up with such success that the true depth of the scandal is only starting to become visible five or six years later. This means everyone in the chain, all the way up from the first journalist to pay the PI for information, right the way through the corporate hierarchy to Rupert Murdoch himself. They profited from the misery of others, and they haven't paid the price. Some of the responsibility is theirs.

From another angle, some of the responsibility lies with the advertisers, who are always seeking the ideal vessel to purvey their product - they want something which will attract a lot of people to see or hear their ads, but they don't want their precious product associated with anything bad. So the advertisers play their part in this, through demanding both the high circulation that the News of the World achieved, and through also demanding the cover-up of sources, and the hiding of illegal behaviour. They were willing to accept the high circulation figures, without asking what was done in the name of achieving this circulation. So some of the responsibility is theirs, also.

From a further angle, there's the responsibility of the telephone companies to provide education and data security for their users. In a large part, the crime of hacking into the message databases was caused by the lack of knowledge on the part of people who owned phones - they didn't know the pass-code existed, didn't know they could use it, didn't know they could alter it. So the pass-codes were left at their default. A simple procedural change, such as ensuring that the account was locked to external access should the user not attempt this within a month of opening their account, would have secured the vast mass of this data. That there was a back-door left not only unlocked, but practically gaping wide open, is not decent data security. So the phone companies bear some responsibility, too.

The journalists who paid for the stolen data bear responsibility, because they knew this data wasn't coming from kosher sources. They knew they weren't respecting the privacy of the people involved. They knew they were effectively breaking the spirit of the law, if not the actual letter of the law, by using this data in order to create their stories. They knew they were encouraging further breaches of the law by paying for the data.

The private eye who figured out how to hack into the phone message banks, and then sold on the data to the News of the World, also bears responsibility, as the one who committed the crime. According to reports, he was paid 100,000 UKP for his services.

There's the politicians who permitted the Murdoch family to purchase so much of the world's news infrastructure (the world's largest news gathering organisation is a privately owned family company). There's the police, who didn't understand the magnitude of the crime when it was presented to them (not to mention the police who were bribed into silence). There's the various managements and journalists of other news organisations, who let their concerns about their own profitability over-ride their interest in the privacy and rights of the people they purport to represent. All of these people are responsible, and all of them will probably be mentioned in articles regarding the whole scandal.

But there's one responsible group the news media won't mention. One group who will be allowed to skate by scot free. One group who won't ever be expected to look their responsibility in the face and name it for what it is. And that's us.

If you've ever bought a newspaper, if you've ever clicked on a link to a news site, if you've ever listened to news radio, or watched the news on television, you bear some responsibility for this as well.

As viewers, listeners, readers, we create the demand for news articles. As viewers, listeners and readers, we've fed the Murdoch machine, given it the money it needed to create a monolithic view of the way news "should" be, a monolithic view of "what sells newspapers, what sells advertising space". We have allowed our news to become tawdry, cheap, nasty, vicious, invasive, insensitive. We have allowed this, because we haven't spoken up and said no. We have allowed this because we've purchased the products the advertisers sell. We have allowed this because we've bought the papers, listened to the radio stations, clicked the links, watched the programs, bought the magazines. We have allowed this, we have facilitated this, by demanding more and more and more and more from the news media; by not criticising it enough; by continuing to feed the maw.

If you feel sickened by the actions of the News of the World; if you feel angry about the actions of the Murdoch family; if you feel self-righteous about the way the advertisers are fleeing the sinking ship, remember: we asked for it.

We asked for it. Now we have it.

Maybe we should start asking for something different.

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Fandom vs Money-makers: Round the latest.

Oh dear. The latest episode in "Why Making Money From Fandom Doesn't Work For Non-Fans" is starting up. Grab your seats early, and tune in to the fun, as Keith Mander attempts to monetize LOTR fandom.

Mr Manders starts from a bit of a handicap. For a start, he isn't actually a member of fandom. So he doesn't know the first thing about the history, the background, or the little nuances of the place. He doesn't know the politics, and he doesn't know who to believe when they tell him "yeah, you can do this". For seconds, he apparently doesn't know the first thing about the IP holders either. This means he is blindfolded in the ring with the archetypical sabre-toothed-tiger with a toothache, and he thinks he's dealing with a cute, fuzzy kitten.

This guy is, to use a Discworldism, going to be cheesed (like being creamed, but it goes on for much longer, and the results are rotten).

Elf has the beginnings of a linkspam. The affected archive is The main comparison being made is to FanLib.

Musing below the fold )

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Current Mood: cynical cynical
Bullying: It's Not Just For Primary School

Parents welcome ruling on bullying victim's suicide

The article I link to above is about a determination by a coroner in Victoria that a young man who killed himself had done so as a result of being bullied. It's an interesting enough article, and it raises some interesting issues about bully culture as it surrounds people.

It ends with a note that "If you are experiencing difficulties with bullying contact Lifeline on 13 11 14."

And I started to weep, because I'm a bullying survivor.

I was bullied by my peers, socially and emotionally, for twelve years. I was taunted, teased, degraded, abused, stalked, and pushed constantly throughout primary school and high school. I survived it, but mainly because I grew up in a family which had a strong history of chronic depression, and thus had a strong intra-family cultural taboo on suicide, self-harm, or any other form of behaviour which might bring the family to the attention of the authorities. Keep your head down, suck it up, and see whether you can fly under their radar; that's the family mantra.

I grew up thinking there had to be something inherently wrong with me, something which made those other children pick on me, something which made me a target. I grew up learning from my age peers the "normal" response to my existence was either outright aggression, masked aggression, or just outright denial of my humanity. If I had any friends at all, they were mistakes, errors, only putting up with me because they were outcasts too. If someone was being friendly to me, it wasn't going to last. If someone had my back, it was only so they could stick a knife in it more effectively. I grew up knowing this had to be the case, because if it wasn't... well, if it wasn't this meant that people were getting away with being deliberately cruel to me, for no other reason than "because they could". Easier to believe in my own inappropriateness than to believe in generalised acceptance of malice.

Bullying broke me.

I don't trust people even now. I particularly don't trust other women (and if you're a "popular" woman, you're going to have a lot of trouble winning even the slightest particle of trust from me, because I spent too many years being the target of the malice of the popular girls in school), I don't trust good-looking men, I don't trust people who have any sort of power over me, and I don't trust people who say they're my peers. I live my life on the lookout for the next knife in my back, the next attack out of the dark. I shadowbox my way through relationships. The closer a person gets to me, the more danger I'm in.

I expect to be bullied as a default state these days. It was the cause of a near-breakdown in my second year of university study, because I was so strung-out waiting for the other shoe to drop... prior to starting uni I'd never been in any educational environment where I hadn't been subject to some form of bullying, where picking on me because I was there hadn't been just an accepted part of the day.

I still wear the target on my soul. I found that out when I got my first full-time job in the public service, and was put in the charge of a manager who proceeded to play mind games, most likely with the deliberate intent of breaking me down. That job brought me as close as I've ever been to actual suicide, and I can still recall the absolute despair I felt at the thought of having to endure something like that all day, every day, for the rest of my life. The only reason I'm still here now is because my instinct for self-preservation overrode my lower-middle class upbringing (and led me to quit the job with no idea at all what I was going to do next). What that experience did for me was reinforced the half-understood lesson of my university days - that what had happened to me for twelve years of schooling wasn't a result of "kids being kids".

This is important: children don't bully because they're children. Bullies bully because they're allowed to get away with it, and they don't "grow out of" their bullying behaviours. They keep at it for as long as they're able, and they'll leave a trail of victims behind them. Oh, and they generally don't see themselves as doing anything harmful, either. They were "just having a bit of a joke" or "taking care" of their victim, or carrying out their actions "in the interests" of their victim.

I've never actually called Lifeline. I don't think they'd be interested in what I have to say. I doubt calling them would change anything, and it won't make the pain I still carry go away. I'm broken, and I doubt I'll ever be able to be fixed. I can paper over the cracks, I can pretend I'm functional, but underneath, there's still the little girl who doesn't understand why people are being so nasty to her without any reason. She's crying, and she's probably going to keep crying for the rest of my life.

My name is Meg, and I'm a bullying survivor.

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location: In tears
Current Mood: triggered triggered
My thoughts on #MooreandMe

I started out participating in this because I was irritated. Irritated with the whole shemozzle surrounding Julian Assagne (who, quite frankly, sounds more and more like a creep the more I hear of him or from him), irritated by the whole business of who said what, irritated by the whole dismissive tone of the arguments of Assagne's supporters. I was even more irritated with the similarity of the whole mess to the Polanski and Gibson accusations and the consequent media furore.

It seems there's a particular little syllogism which operates for many people regarding creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing people - particularly the men. It runs like this:

1) Being creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing is a positive and good thing.

2) A person who does positive and good things would never commit a crime against a person, like assault, mugging, rape or murder. Crimes against property (including intellectual property) are okay, because after all, all property is theft.

So, when a person who presents as creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing is accused of a crime against a person, there's a logical disconnect. Either the person has committed a crime against a person, in which case they cannot possibly be a person who does good and positive things (and thus cannot be creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing) or they're a creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing person, and therefore the accuser cannot possibly be correct. In these situations, it all comes down to a combination of who the accuser is and what proof they have. The best possible accuser is someone who is also creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing, preferably male, preferably white, preferably heterosexual, preferably Christian, and preferably of an equal or higher social class to the accused - in other words, someone who has a greater level of inbuilt societal privilege. The best proof is video footage, preferably from multiple sources, and preferably with a clear shot of the face of the offender.

If, however, you have a situation where, for example, a white, middle-upper class male person is being accused of a crime against a person by a non-white or female accuser, without absolutely unchallengeable proof (such as a copy of the video footage signed by God) you're going to have a situation where the accuser is going to be strongly dissuaded from laying charges in the first place. The argument is that the accuser is just trying to gain attention; just trying to bring down the person they're accusing; part of a conspiracy against them; that what happened to the accuser never happened; that the accuser is outright lying; that the accuser isn't behaving like someone who's had a crime committed against them; that the accuser provoked the crime in the first place; that the accused would never do something like that; that the accused is a good person; and finally, that the accused is creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing.

This is precisely what happened when Michael Moore went on Keith Olbermann's show to speak about why Michael Moore decided to contribute to the bail for Julian Assagne. Two ostensibly liberal, progressive journalists repeated incorrect information in front of cameras. They spread lies. Neither of them has apologised for their actions in a manner which is even half as public as the actions themselves. Keith Olbermann re-tweeted a link which named the accusers in this case; said accusers have been receiving death-threats, rape threats, and are generally being harassed something horrible, because they've had the temerity to accuse a man who is publicly perceived as being creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing of a number of crimes against persons, rather than crimes against property.

Now, rape is one of those weird little crimes - rape as we know it today wasn't prosecuted even a century ago, much less two. That's because rape as we know it today is regarded as a crime against a person. A century ago, it was regarded as a crime against property. If a woman was raped, the person who was offended against was her husband, or her father if she wasn't married, and if the prosecution went ahead, the restitution was made to either the husband or the father. Over the past century or so, progressive persons around the world have been working to alter this viewpoint, so that women have altered from being regarded as property to being regarded as persons.

Unfortunately, as the Assagne case is showing, this change hasn't really sunk in to bone-deep levels yet. Instead, when a woman tries to raise rape as a crime against a person where the perpetrator is on the creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing spectrum, it gets the same reaction as a crime against property - affronted rage that someone could possibly accuse their darling of having committed a crime at all.

Now, my own opinion is if the accusations against Julian Assagne are correct, the man stands accused of crimes against persons, crimes against property, and definitely crimes against hospitality. I don't know about anyone else, but one of the things I was raised to believe is if you're a guest in someone's home (particularly if they're offering you free accommodation), you're on your very best behaviour at all times, and you work hard to avoid causing problems. Which rather rules out assault as being on the list of acceptable guest behaviours. Of course, I was also raised to believe if someone said no to something while they were awake, they meant no to it while they were asleep as well. I also hold the apparently unreasonable belief that if your sexual partner wishes you to take an STD test, you should take one, if only to set their mind at rest. But, as I said above, the more I hear about and from Julian Assagne, the more convinced I become that whatever else he may be, the man is an utter creep.

I'm still participating in #MooreandMe because I want to change attitudes. I want crimes like rape to be regarded as crimes against people, right down to the bone, rather than "excusable peccadillo" crimes against property for the creative/progressive/left-wing/liberal type. I want enthusiastic consent to become the rule, rather than the exception. I want to reduce the lifetime risk of rape from 1 in 6 for women and 1 in 33 for men (even if it's just to 1 in 7 for women and 1 in 34 for men, it's a start). I want more.

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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
#MooreandMe - A linkfest

So I've been wandering about the internet, looking at bits and pieces regarding the whole #MooreandMe thing. Here's a quick list of some of the posts I've spotted.

EDIT - stuff marked with ** is new since the last time I updated the article.

LAST UPDATE: 1115h Western Australian Summer Time (zone GMT+8) 23 DEC 2010.

THE BASICS: If you spot a broken link, let me know (if you have the corrected link, even better!). If you've been linked here and you want to be delinked, let me know (if possible, let me know whether you're willing to accept a link which is cut-&-paste friendly, or whether you wish to be removed from the list altogether). I read all comments and screen them - your comment may not show up immediately. I read comments from both Dreamwidth and InsaneJournal, and will collate all of them into the one post which is cross-posted. Comment at whichever site suits you.

STATEMENT OF THE BLEEDING OBVIOUS: I just provide the links. I don't provide the content. I don't endorse the content. I didn't write the content at the links except where stated. I also don't guarantee the reader is going to be able to understand it. Some of it them have hard words, like "rape" and "truth" and "consent" and "responsibility". I suggest if you're having problems with anything, you consult a dictionary.

Links under the fold )Again, I read comments from both InsaneJournal and Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment at either site.

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Current Mood: quixotic quixotic
Current Music: "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" - Elton John
Why I'm participating in #MooreandMe

* Because I'm female, and as such have a 1 in 6 lifetime risk of being raped.
* Because Mike Moore has made a career out of being obnoxious and demanding people listen to him; yet he won't respond to his own tactics?
* Because as a woman, as a potential rape victim, as a person who values their personal safety, I benefit greatly if rape culture is questioned and challenged (I'd benefit personally if the lifetime odds of being raped only dropped to 1 in 7). The safer I am, the safer everyone else is too.
* Because as a woman who knows other women, I'm statistically likely to know at least one person who has been raped and/or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
* Because everything I hear about or from Julian Assagne makes him sound more and more like an utter creep.
* Because any sexual activity which happens without enthusiastic consent is rape.
* Because rape is the only crime where the accusers are on trial rather than the accused.
* Because even if the people bringing the rape charges are CIA agents, only doing it for the publicity, or just seeking to get "revenge" (revenge for what, precisely?) they still deserve a fair hearing in court, rather than a public inquisition via internet.
* Because I want to make it clear that I think rape isn't okay.
* Because it's the right thing to do.
* Because even if it isn't the best tactic in the world to get Mike Moore to reply, it's something we can do to make a point not only to Mike Moore, but also to all the other guys out there who don't understand about rape culture and what rape apologism consists of.

Oh, and for those following it, here's a few apologists and outright trolls I've spotted on the tag:


I'll add more as I notice them. But don't feed 'em, folks.

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Current Music: "She Said She Said" - The Beatles
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