Nature is an ecoterrorist!

Archive for the ‘International’ Category

News: Starvation or Jail

A few days ago, it was reported by the BBC that a homeless man was jailed in Belfast, Northern Ireland for begging. He couldn’t pay a fine of £80, so they jailed him.

The district judge refused to give him a conditional discharge saying he had two other begging convictions and that it was clear they had not deterred him.

Look. I don’t know what things are like in Belfast for the homeless, but I am pretty hip to the fact that if a country or city’s priorities are geared towards making the homeless unseen by the housed rather than actually, you know, helping them maintain a lifestyle that is healthy, sanitary and safe, there’s probably not that many options for the homeless other than begging. For all that people like to point to homeless shelters, they’re not an option for many because of the waiting lists, lack of food/enough food/necessary food (for example, Aslan couldn’t go to shelters for food because it was all infested with dairy, to which zie is deadly allergic), an almost total absence of dignity and safety.

Very few people who recommend shelters know, or are willing to consider, the fact that you’re more at risk for rape and theft from the shelter staff than from the other shelter-ees. I’m not even touching the Mission belief that the homeless are homeless because they’re not Christians or not good enough Christians, and that making someopne who is starving and/or freezing to death listen to a sermon before they “deserve” to not starve and/or freeze is just. UnChristian and unacceptable by any decent standard (i.e. non-Randian) of ethics. And even now, we’re assuming he was able to get access to a shelter or Mission in the first place…

You know, I think there might be a reason that he wasn’t deterred by his convictions, and it’s something you’re fucking evil for faulting someone for: he valued his literal physical survival over the law.

So do I. When the law pits itself against your basic well-being, safety and survival, the law is wrong. End of.

Most people who haven’t been homeless do not understand that concept—that the law cannot physically be followed in many circumstances: in Colorado, U.S., it is actually illegal to sleep anywhere that is not a “private” residence. If you cannot pay for a motel/hotel or camping space, if you do not have a house, if someone with those things does not give you permission to sleep there, you are actually breaking the law. You can’t even sleep in a car you own. The U.S. is more concerned with keeping the homeless out of sight than with anything else, to the point that they are willing to put into place a rule that would violate the Geneva convention on torture if it were inflicted on POWs.

I’ve been there. Let me tell you something: sleep is more important than anything except water. In the hierarchy of basic needs, “sleep” and “water” are at the bottom; then “warmth” and “sanitation”; then “food” and “safety.” No number of laws can deter you from needing these, but it doesn’t seem to stop humans from trying. Like if you really were a good person, you’d find a way to do everything legally, including suddenly becoming magically successful at capitalism (because it’s your choice, after all!).

Uh, no. This is Human Rights 101: capitalism and the comfort of the privileged do not ever negate or come before any human’s survival, and capitalist infrastructure (stores) has no right to prevent humans from ensuring their survival, even if it comes at the cost of a store’s profits. If you think that a store’s “right” to profits comes before a human’s actual right to food and not starving, then congratulations—you don’t even believe in the most basic of human rights. Go to the corner and fucking check yourself.

What they’ve done to this man is criminal. That unnamed judge should be locked up.

News: Nature is Awesome, Humans Intent on Short-Term Gain (Still)

In animals and nature news today, another species of beetle native to the UK has been discovered. It’s a rove beetle with an average length of 6.5mm (i.e. pretty damn small). A handful of new beetle species are identified each year in the region, which doesn’t include other species of insects and animals. I find a great many people who insist that we know a whole fuckin’ lot about animals, which usually provides the basis for their assertion that we know non-human animals are inferior to us, but this just isn’t true. (And it doesn’t help when you repeat basic inaccuracies like, “bees aren’t animals, they’re insects!”)

Out of a scale of everything there is to know about humans, the knowledge humanity possesses accounts for probably one millionth of one percent. I say “probably,” because we know so little about ourselves—even separate parts of the body, like the circulatory system—that it is basically impossible to estimate unless you’re using my scale (which is extremely practical but widely ignored and/or denied).

For example: did you even know there were 1,500 varieties of potatoes in existence? (I did. Plants are awesome.) There are also over 600 varieties of mangos… although they are quickly being destroyed by global agriculture, capitalism, and… hey! Carnism.

When you include everything else in the world… well, dudes, our knowledge is basically the equivalent of a single single atom among all the atoms in all the molecules of every material thing in the world.

However, we do have some knowledge by trial-and-error—not passive knowledge (that something is), but active knowledge: what happens when you do something. Actually, humans have such a long history of fucking up that we have a massive repository of straight-up facts for what will happen if you try to fuck with the world around you… This is being stolidly ignored in the UK; to reduce tuberculosis rates in farmed cows, farmers want to shoot badgers.

Aside from the outstanding evidence that “pest management” is a bad fucking idea, shooting badgers actually increases the spread of TB outside of the immediate area because of the upset to their social networks, so any badgers that foraged nearby will range farther instead of remaining in the area. No, of course that doesn’t imply badgers feel so strongly about others in their social networks dying that they will actively avoid the area—that would be sentimental and obvious reasonable evolutionarily sound anthropomorphism.

Apparently, it’s a better idea to fuck up another animals’ social system than it is to simply eliminate the problem by not farming cows. Because if you did that, nature wins! And nature is an ecoterrorist.

That’s officially my new tagline.

News: U.S. Military Part of Rape Culture, Too

Rape culture is perpetuated by a vicious cycle. Institutional power (the police, the courts, the prisons, the politicians, etc.) does not take rape seriously and actively discourages any attempt to change that fact; everyday people, taking their cue from these institutions (and assuming, as they have been taught via compulsory “education”, that the institutions would care if it were such a big deal), enforce the same dynamics on the ground level; those everyday people then enter those institutions and proceed to do exactly the same thing. This is one reason, among many, that I am an abolitionist, not a reformist—because those institutions of power pose too great of a threat to freedom of thought and life.

But I’m going off topic. This post isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that the U.S. military also follows rape culture: they would rather sweep rape under the rug than actually punish rapists. As the articles say, more than a dozen female and at least one male current or ex-military are suing prominent Pentagon officials to try to force the hand of the military into actually doing something. Which, in case you haven’t caught on to that by now, they haven’t been: survivors have mostly been told to shut up and serve regardless—even then their attacker is in the same unit. Systematic oppression is the only kind of oppression.

Part of it is just that it is even more bizarrely taboo to socially reject or shun someone for being a rapist than it is for any other reason. Another part is that rape culture as a whole continuously trivializes the experiences of rape victims—they’re whiners, drama queens, etc. because rape is not supposed to be that bad. Rape culture does its damnedest to persuade everyone to look at rape from the POV of the rapist—the rapist is sympathetic, the rapist is calm, the rapist is objective. The victim is irrational, overemotional, out-of-control, attention-seeking, manipulative (count which other oppressed peoples those apply to as well—I can name a few). That’s the cultural narrative.

It happens everywhere, whether you’re male or female, young or old, on the brown side or on the white side, rich or poor. Rape victims are overwhelmingly more likely to be female—the notoriously conservative RAINN estimates that 1 in 6 women will be raped in their lifetimes, whereas the corresponding statistic for men is 1 in 33. This doesn’t make rape and sexual assault less important when it happens to men—it is unacceptable, anywhere, at any time—but it does provide perspective on why rape and sexual victimization are coded as feminine.

Here are some other articles: Scott Howard, an openly gay man, went to prison for moneymaking schemes and was repeatedly raped and extorted by 211 Crew—a well-known white supremecist group, then punished by prison officials when he reported it.

In 2010, a report was issued that stated about 12% of youth in juvenile detention in the U.S. reported having been sexually abused in the last year. Unlike in adult prisons, however, the ratio of abuse by inmate:staff was reversed—the majority of sexual abuse was perpetrated by staff. Indiana got called out by Federal authorities soon after because the conditions shocked even the investigators—and do you know how hard it is to get people who think prison is a good idea to admit something’s crossed the line?

At the G20 summit in Toronto last year, police repeatedly threatened to rape protesters in their custody, and they actually did sexually assault several.

Rape isn’t invisible: it’s just bled out and pale, less threatening. One of the reasons that transparency is fought so vehemently by these institutions of power—corporations, government and even colleges and universities—is that transparency shows that these problems are big, that they are endemic and of mind-boggling proportions. The idea that real rape rarely happens is part of rape culture’s trivialization of rape—because, abstracted into isolated instances, the implicit suggestion becomes unavoidable: go work on real issues.

News: Italian PM Berlusconi Shameless, What Else is New?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refuses to step down from his position because hey, he only actively sought out women to use as property, because what are women there for if not to titillate men? Something so decorative couldn’t be intended for anything other than decoration, amirite guize?

He’s also accused of buying underage girls, which is probably very much true, but the woman in question says it’s not true. She’s Moroccan to boot—which probably means more if you’re aware of the massive racism alive and well in Italy. But what makes it worse is her own story, as told here. [TW for rape, abuse.] You know, just in case you were inclined to believe that there is such a thing as a happy beginning for pros.

It is not a mistake that in Italy, where the Catholic Church is headquartered, which is still all-male and still notoriously conservative and anti-woman, it isn’t illegal for a man to pay for “sex.” It’s not a coincidence that Italy is still one of the most conservative Western European countries, and that it’s still a hotbed for fascism. It’s not a mistake that even though more women have college degrees than men, less than half of all women are employed, and they aren’t abstaining because of choice. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, the largely male parliament voted against an investigation of his home for evidence for a prosecution. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, fetuses are more precious than women. It’s not a mistake that women in Italy are divided into two groups: housewives and veline (“showgirls”), and it’s not a mistake that both of those groups are property—for the benefit of, enjoyment of, and entertainment of men. It’s not a mistake that being treated as if he did something wrong by using women as property is taken as an attack on Italy itself by the megalomaniacal Berlusconi, but it’s not attacking women to make them into fucking playthings.

It’s not a coincidence that the extremely-Catholic Italy gave the world Mussolini and is still fascist and corrupt, but the similarly extremely-Catholic Spain was anarchist against those Italian fascists, and that they were one of the first nations in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. These things are connected. Sexism, heteronormativity, anarchism fighting against fascism, capitalism, individualism, prostitution, male entitlement. These things are written spray-painted on the wall of history. You ignore these things at your own peril.

From an article I linked earlier:

Decades after a feminist movement helped bring significant changes, including legal abortion and divorce, some argue that Italian women are worse off today than in the past. “It’s as if we’ve gone backwards since the ’70s,” said Antonella Giacobbe, 55, as she attended a recent meeting in Rome of Filomena, a women’s advocacy group.

And:

Women’s rights have gone backwards under the Taliban militia’s rule in Afghanistan in the past 12 months, with tougher restrictions on their employment and no perceptible change to the defacto ban on education.

And every feminist woman I have ever met, saying the same thing. “I feel like we’re moving backwards.”

This is not a mistake. It’s not a coincidence.

It’s so fucking overwhelming.

Good News: Canada Decides Gender Discrimination’s Not Cool

Bit late on this, but this is definitely a good thing. Less discrimination and fuckuppery in the world is the point.

The Canadian House of Commons have passed a bill to outlaw discrimination against transgendered and transsexual Canadians and specifically mentions gender expression as something that should be protected.

The amendments proposed in the bill prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression through adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canada Human Rights Act, and through adding transgender and transsexual Canadians as identifiable groups in the Criminal Code’s hate crimes law.

Lest you forget, gender expression is not actually that limited a term—and it doesn’t just apply to dressing across the dichotomy as such. Your gender expression applies to what you feel comfortable being recognized as, not just in terms of genitalia. And especially because of the “transgender” part of the bill, it applies to anyone who is persecuted or discriminated against for not conforming to gendering norms. So, for example (I don’t know how much this is a problem in Canada), your employer is discriminating against you for telling you to dress a certain way beyond uniform and cleanliness standards. Damn straight.

I wish we had that where I live—I have a friend who works at a fast food chain, and co’s boss keeps ordering female-fitted shirts instead of unisex or “male” ones—under this law, for him to refuse to order a unisex shirt, or to charge co extra for a unisex shirt, would actually be illegal.

“This is reckless. I’m appalled,” said evangelical minister Charles McVety, who has been fighting the legislation since June. “This is a dangerous, inconsiderate bill. The considerations of all Canadians were not taken into account.”

McVety, along with other critics from the Campaign Life Coalition, have dubbed C-389 the “Bathroom Bill” because of their belief that it can grant male cross-dressers and drag queens a legal right to use female bathrooms.”

Right-wing bullhonky. I will be interested to see how the fuck they’re going to determine who has the right to enter female bathrooms—because, you know, it’s just too much work to build unisex bathrooms; fuck you and your little wheelchair too!—but I’m not entirely convinced that this will allow this increase in sexual harassment or anything. Men have been going into the women’s bathrooms and raping them for years now.

Anyway, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to “consider all Canadians” when you’re talking about giving a specific, marginalized group of people rights, but—yeah, that’s just me: I’m one of those loonies who thinks that a democracy’s highest duty is to protect those of the minority. Honestly, the fact that this is so hard to get for people who actually believe in democracies is a big fuckin’ reason I think democracy—among other kinds of government—doesn’t work.

News: Lysistrata Stunt Suggested in Belgium, Retracted

I hesitated in writing about this. I didn’t know what to say. This article left a bad taste in my mouth, but I couldn’t quite articulate it—I still don’t know if I can, at least adequately. But I’m going to take a whack at it nevertheless.

The partners of Belgian politicians are being urged to go on a sex strike until a government is formed.

The country had general elections last June but parties have so far been unable to form a governing coalition. …

“I call on the spouses of all negotiators to withold sex until a deal is reached,” said Ms Temmerman in an article for a Belgian newspaper. “Have no more sex until the new administration is posing on the steps of the Palace.”

And I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that sex is still being used as a bartering tool and a weapon—on the State level, no less. Clearly, using sex as leverage in a transaction or bargain doesn’t impact women at all, nor does the idea put them in danger whatsoever. After all, it’s not like one of the historical traditions of marriage itself is to toss your wife aside when she stops putting out, or when you no longer find yourself wanting to fuck her.

Via the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which does extensive surveys of parliaments (legislative branches to you Yanks) including collecting data on women in government, I’ve found that roughly 38% of their government is made up of women—36% in their Senate and 39% in their House of Representatives. So, even a country that said OH NO YOU DINT to the Vatican is still strongly skewed towards men at the legislative level. Double that because the person who initially put it forth got the idea from fucking Kenya, where it’s even worse.

It’s fucking disheartening. A lot of my reaction came from—and still does, even though the Senator who made the suggestion says it was a joke—the fact that even now, women’s primary power is expected to be in manipulating powerful men. It always has been—re: Lysistrata—and then men have the gall to mock and deride women for being so manipulative, those fucking bitches, look at how much power they have over us from eliciting boners!

Why is this “progressive” country still, even today, able to “joke” about sex being used as a weapon? It has been, by men, against women—whether literally, via rape, slut-shaming and sexual harassment… or as indictment, because women have historically been forced to use sex as bartering goods for survival, by men. Get on the ball, Belgium.

On slightly lesser note, this is creeping me out, because David Cameron’s speech had a similar line in it:

“What Belgium is experiencing is a foretaste of the challenges that Europe itself is facing, because you have a prosperous north and a less prosperous south. Over the last decade they’ve really been separating themselves so they don’t have a unifying national identity,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

… I’m getting uncomfortable images of fascism because this is coming up everywhere, in these words. I do not like what that’s foretelling at all.

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