Lying Media Bastards

January 19, 2010

Poverty Ain’t Punishment Enough

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This is some appalling shit right here.

Long story short: cops and prosecutors in New Orleans are using an 1805 law about “unnatural copulation” to have convicted prostitutes labeled as sex offenders. Not only does this allow prosecutors to give longer jail sentences, but when they get out of jail, the prostitutes have an even harder time of things.

First of all, this is perverse. The ancient law criminalizes oral and anal sex, meaning that everyone reading this article, and probably everyone within 100 feet of everyone reading this article, could therefore be convicted as a sex offender in New Orleans. But New Orleans seems to be selecting only the prostitutes (and mostly black female ones at that) to slap with this. The article doesn’t mention if the prostitutes’ customers are getting convicted of this charge or not. I’d guess “not”.

Second, it abuses public fears about sexual assaults. “Sex offender” means, to most folks, “child molesters and serial rapists.” Period. It doesn’t mean hookers, strippers, or people who like kinky sex. But the people who the cops choose to charge as unnatural copulaters will have “SEX OFFENDER” printed on their driver’s licenses, end up in the sex offender registry, and notify all their neighbors that they are sex offenders. For fifteen years. Making a living by having consensual sex with people is really not the same thing as someone who gets their sexual thrills by forcing themselves on people weaker than themselves.

Third, prostitutes generally aren’t in the position they’re because they chose to. Most are extremely poor, can’t find any other work, have drug problems, or all three. Do we really have to go out of our way to punish people who are barely surviving in the first place? Some people apparently so.

It’s a good article, give it a read, and take a little heart that some people are fighting against the unjust law and prosecutions.

Posted by Jake on January 19, 2010 11:08 pm

January 15, 2010

Retort Reform

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I read a rather appalling/heart-warming post yesterday that was essentially about a particular type of ad hominem attack: calling someone “fat”. Apparently there are a number of smart people out there, with smart opinions, who area also arguably overweight. And rather than fighting back against the ideas and opinions of these people, some of their opponents just scream that the smart people are fatty fatty fat fats, and therefore their opinions don’t matter.

Now this debate “tactic” is used all the time, attack the messenger, not the message. Women seem to get the worst of it, presumably because of actual American attitudes about who is good enough, who is “one of us”, and who doesn’t deserve to be heard. The “shut up, you’re fat” attacks, seem to be based on deep held stereotypes that overweight people are lazy, gluttonous, weak-willed, and a host of negative traits that go with that. People also seem to enjoy sitting in judgment on heavy people, acting as though there’s some sort of moral high ground to be had.

I think I found a very good rebuttal to these sorts of attacks in the political realm. You make your argument, someone yells “oh yeah? Well you’re a fat pig.” Then you say:

You know who wasn’t fat?


(In fact, I think that most dictators, mass murderers and serial killers were of a healthy weight…)

The websites where I’ve seen this issue discussed then often turn into a debate over two accurate yet contradictory things:

1) being overweight is often a product of an unhealthy Western diet, and can lead to serious health problems
2) our culture has extremely skewed ideas of what constitutes “fat” and “thin”, and often shames people who don’t fit these unrealistic body types

This can end up turning into an unproductive fight of “it’s okay to be fat” vs. “no it’s not!”, and a variety of similar themes. But these really are two different things. Western lifestyles– including diet, work patterns, transportation, marketing, medicine, industry, science, and culture– have devolved to the point where our practices often cause our health great harm, even when we don’t intend to. Aside from that, our society also places great importance on physical appearance, and our criteria for judging attractiveness is largely shaped by mass media, who have their own goals and agendas. Obviously, the societal traits that cause weight-related disease should be fixed, and fast. And the ignorance we endure psychological damage we do to each other based on bizarre beliefs and stereotypes based on a person’s outward appearance also needs some serious work.

But really, I wrote most of this so I could tell that Hitler joke.

Posted by Jake on January 15, 2010 10:42 pm

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