Monday, February 27, 2012

Lowell and the GOP: Zealotry on Parade

Consider Meredith Marie Lowell/Anne Lowery, an animal rights activist from Ohio with a desire to kill for her cause:

Woman tries to hire hit man to kill fur-wearer: FBI
(Reuters) - An Ohio woman who likened freeing lab animals to liberating Holocaust survivors was being held in custody Wednesday on charges she used Facebook to try to hire a hit man to kill a person at random for wearing fur, prosecutors said.
The details of the story just sink further into the morass of "why weren't you thinking" that the first paragraph revealed. Lowell was so poor at covering her tracks, she used library computers near her house to post to Facebook. She must've had the idea that using an assumed name would be enough. She was taken in by an FBI agent who she talked to about liberating lab animals, claiming it was akin to saving Holocaust victims.

And to add insult to injury, she only wanted to pay the "hit man" $850 to pick a random fur-wearing person and kill them. Which she didn't think would be at all illegal. Did she only watch the first half of Mafia movies and assume everyone got away with it? And since when does a hit man work for that small a fee? I've never priced the market, but I daresay buying a murder must be more expensive than that. There are escorts who charge more than that for a date. Even if you're opposed to all animal testing and fur-wearing, it should be obvious that Lowell/Lowery went way too far.

She's a small example of the larger problem with zealotry that Rick Santorum has been demonstrating as of late, not to mention the GOP's concerted attempt to force women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before they have an abortion. Over-the-top pronouncements, a clear disconnect with how the world works, and sloppy attempts to force their will onto undeserving people they'll never meet.

Even if you don't wholly agree with the analogy, what point is there in forcing people to go through that kind of procedure or claiming that sending people to college is an attempt to turn them into atheists? And why do something to help that party stay in power? They're clearly working toward making the USA a theocracy, something our Founding Fathers would have protested had anyone proposed it over 230 years ago.

The FBI exists to stop people like Lowery. Since the Republican Party is dependent on the will of the voters, it's the people who get to decide whether they can wreak their havoc and work to stop them. That is why, now more than ever, I want Obama and the Democrats to win and win big in 2012. I'm not sure what I can do, considering my disabilities. But I can at least speak up on occasion.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

4 AM at the Privilege Cafe

The blogosphere got the most fascinating New Year's present: Glenn Greenwald taking a rape analogy seriously instead of dismissing it as being too extreme a means to insult Obama supporters. To add to the joy of the season, John Cole defended him for it the next day by constructing a straw man. Imani of Angry Black Lady was the target of the initial insult, so I will point to her summary of events. I for one decided I'd had enough of Cole and walked way from Balloon Juice as well. I was an occasional commenter, so it's not like I'm a major loss. But I just could not hang anymore.

There's a larger point to all of this, though. The problem of privilege. And there are multiple privileges that come into play here. The original rape analogizer (DrDawg on Twitter), Greenwald, and Cole are all male. And for sure, two of them are white. I'd gamble on the third man also being white, but that's not guaranteed. The fact he dared go there with an analogy of a black man raping a nun on national TV is why I say that. At best, DrDawg wound up seeing a rerun of Two Mules for Sister Sara recently and got way ahead of himself.

I'll focus on the gender privilege. But rest assured, I noticed "black man as rapist" was in there, too. And that's another thing that all three men had best check themselves on. This is white-to-white speaking: cut the crap and get over the 60's.

I could echo those who've discussed how explaining privilege is like telling fish about water. Or I could bring up the house shared by a Siberian husky and a gecko. But I feel like being visual and giving Tatsuya Ishida of Sinfest some props while I'm at it.

Because the moment at least some of us have when we realize we're surrounded by messages that tell us how to behave that the culture endorses and encourages? Feels just like this:

Direct link:

Direct link:

And after that red pill is swallowed, we know. And we can't escape knowing. So when someone tries to tell us it's not there because they can't see it or act as if it doesn't apply in a situation where it does, we get cognitive dissonance.

Denying that Greenwald failed to act appropriately when given that rape analogy is ignoring the truth. Attacking those of us who called him out on it or were hurt by its use is cooperating with those who want people to take the blue pill.

Ishida's analogy also applies to other forms of privilege, of course. But his first reason for using it applies here. Imani and her friends and supporters have taken the red pill. Cole claims to have taken the red pill, such as when he puts a rapid kibosh on people using "cunt" as an insult in his blog, but in this instance he acted like he took the blue one again.

And that's what really hurts. When someone who has acted like an ally in the past circles the wagons to protect the offenders in this situation, it's a betrayal. I almost expected Greenwald to permit the analogy to exist and even double down on it. Cole fell down on the job as an ally. He didn't have to defend Imani. But if he didn't want to do that, he should've just stayed out of it.

I've been the one who blew it before. I have made amends as I could when called on it. Cole doubled down. That is his real offense.

I'm not even close to being the blogger Imani is. But this hedgehog has her back.