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With Ireland, yet another pink domino topples; next up, the United States

. Dublin (Ireland), 23/05/2015.- People reacting to results coming in from constituencies around Ireland suggesting an overwhelming majority in favour of the referendum on same-sex marriage, in Dublin, Ireland, 23 May 2015. The first results were declared in Ireland's historic vote on same-sex marriage, with every indication that the Yes side has won, as opponents of the measure conceded defeat. Sligo-North Leitrim in the north-west was the first of 43 constituencies to declare with a 53.6-per-cent vote in favour, followed by Waterford in the south-east with 60.3 per cent voting Yes. (Irlanda) EFE/EPA/AIDAN CRAWLEY

EFE/EPA/Aidan Crawley photo

People in Dublin celebrate the passage of same-sex marriage in the widely-considered conservative nation of Ireland yesterday by more than 60 percent of the vote. Of course, this isn’t all about the Catholick church; it’s about human rights and freedom.

The news story headline from today “Church reels after Ireland’s huge ‘Yes’ to gay marriage” made me giddily happy, but the news story misses so much. It begins:

Dublin (AFP) — The once-dominant Catholic Church in Ireland was trying to come to terms [today] with an overwhelming vote in favour of gay marriage, saying it needed a “new language” with which to speak to people.

As jubilant “Yes” supporters nursed their hangovers after partying late into the night following [yesterday’s] referendum result, the faithful attended mass to hear their priests reflect on the new social landscape in Ireland.

“The Church has to find a new language which will be understood and heard by people,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, one of the Church’s most senior figures, told reporters after mass at the city’s St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

“We have to see how is it that the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is not being received even within its own flock.”

He added: “There’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the Church and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the Church.”

The majority of Irish people still identify themselves as Catholic but the Church’s influence has waned in recent years amid growing secularisation [gotta love the British spelling] and after a wave of clerical child sex abuse scandals.

During the campaign, bishops spoke against changing the law, while older and rural voters were thought to have accounted for much of the “No” vote.

Final results showed 62 percent in favour and 38 percent against introducing gay marriage in a country where being homosexual was a crime until 1993. …

Many things strike me. Where to begin?

As much as I’d love to celebrate the death of the Catholick church, it’s not dead yet. For decades Europeans, Americans, Latin Americans and others throughout the world have been calling themselves Catholicks but have doing what they want to do anyway. They disagree with the church on many issues, such as birth control, abortion and same-sex relationships, but go about living their lives as they wish to live them anyway, but still giving at least lip service to having some fealty to the Catholick church. They have been living compartmentalized lives, and this doesn’t seem to bother them much, if they even think about it much at all.

This phenomenon of compartmentalization (in order to avoid cognitive dissonance, apparently) is quite old, and while of course Ireland being the first nation in the world to establish same-sex marriage at the ballot box (rather via a legislature or court of law) is a milestone in equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals — probably especially because Ireland is considered to be a conservative nation — the Catholick church will continue to sputter on until its eventual demise.

Remember that 10 years ago in the heavily Catholick nation of  Spain, the parliament passed same-sex marriage, which was favored by more than 60 percent of the nation’s people10 years ago. (“The ratification of [same-sex marriage in Spain] was not devoid of conflict, despite support from 66 percent of the population,” notes Wikipedia, adding, “Roman Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed, criticizing what they regarded as the weakening of the meaning of marriage.“)

Spain was the third nation to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium, and was quickly followed by Canada, which became the fourth nation to adopt same-sex marriage.

Since Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and parts of the very heavily Catholic Mexico — Mexico City and the Mexican states of  of Quintana Roo and Coahuila — have followed with same-sex marriage. (And it’s important to note that any same-sex marriage that legally was performed anywhere in Mexico must be recognized throughout the nation’s 31 states.)

And following Mexico with same-sex marriage have been Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Finland, England, Scotland and Wales, and now, Ireland.

A lot of Catholicks in the Western world live in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal. Wikipedia, for instance, puts the populations of Ireland, Mexico and Portugal all at more than 80 percent Catholick, Argentina at more than 75 percent, Spain and Luxembourg at around 70 percent, Brazil and France at more than 60 percent, Belgium approaching 60 percent, and Slovenia and Uruguay around 50 percent.

So Ireland’s having joined the same-sex marriage fold yesterday can’t have been a huge shock; it’s not like it was unprecedented.

But I’ll take this latest win for love and for freedom, the freedom to live one’s life the way he or she wishes to, as long as he or she does not harm others — and no, violating some tyrannical, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging theofascist’s backasswards beliefs on how we, the rest of us, may and may not live our lives (whether we even believe in a “God” or not) is not harming anyone else. Quite to the contrary, it’s the theofascists who always have been causing the harm (in the names of “God” and “Jesus” and “love”), to which the masses have been waking up and realizing, and thus the march of same-sex marriage rights continues throughout the globe. (A lot of work remains to be done, especially in the African, Middle Eastern, Asian and Muslim nations, as well as in Russia.)

Speaking of which, I find it interesting that it’s reported that the final tally from the vote in Ireland yesterday is expected to exceed 60 percent, since earlier this month the polling organization Gallup reported that a record number of Americans polled — 60 percent — now support same-sex marriage. That’s fairly fast growth, considering that Americans didn’t reach the 50-percent mark in Gallup’s polling on same-sex marriage until 2011.

True, not even a full quarter of Americans call themselves Catholick (thank God), and of course we can’t blame only the Catholicks for their opposition to same-sex marriage in the United States, since there are plenty of other hateful, ignorant, right-wing “Christian” churches in the United States, such as the Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Methodists, and, of course, the Pentacostalists, who probably are the scariest of the theofascist “Christians” (whom I commonly call “Christofascists,” after “Islamofascists,” as though the fundamentalist Muslims had a monopoly on “God”-based fascism).

And, of course, the Catholicks aren’t monolithic; many if not even most of them personally are OK with same-sex marriage, despite the church’s official stance on the matter. Still, though, I can’t understand how anyone can support such an evil, harmful institution, even peripherally, such as by even still calling oneself a “Catholic,” knowing the damage that the Catholick Church has been wreaking upon humanity for centuries. (Ditto for the Protestant churches, too; even the more liberal Protestant churches still push a belief in “God,” which to me is only a Santa Claus on crack. [He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!] The opiate of the masses, indeed.)

Of course, of what the Catholick Church and other “Christian” churches are most terrified is continuing to lose their grip on the masses’ minds, genitalia and wallets and pocketbooks. Virtually all organized religions, small or huge, are all about those in the upper echelons of the hierarchy, be they the petty pastors of puny Pentecostal churches or Il Papa himself.

These theofascist tyrants never have cared about anyone’s true freedom — only about their own power and wealth, the sustenance of which requires that others be enthralled to them through ignorance and fear, via “God,” “Jesus,” “heaven,” “hell,” “sin,” “eternal damnation,” etc.

The gaining of equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals is only one front in the continuing throwing off of the theofascists’ centuries-long tyranny. Science, technology (including, of course, the communications revolution that the Internet has been), logic, reason, true democracy (which necessitates secularism) — in a word, modernity — is what poses the largest threat to the continued existence of the infantilezed organized religions that refuse to let go of their desire to infantilize and enthrall all of us.

Next up, I expect the U.S. Supreme Court to rule next month that no state in the U.S. may prohibit same-sex marriage, as such a prohibition violates the equal human and civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The about-40 percent of Americans who still oppose same-sex marriage will, of course, quite predictably whine that a pro-same-sex marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is an anti-democratic fiat by “activists” judges (of course, if the U.S. Supreme Court actually were to rule against same-sex marriage [which I find unlikely], to the wingnuts this would be wholly democratic and the judges would not be “activist” at all, but simply would have done their job to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, you see).

Of course, in the United States we never have had any national referenda, such as Ireland just did on the topic of same-sex marriage. In the U.S. there is no mechanism in place for the entire nation to vote on any matter other than who will be U.S. president and U.S. vice president, and given that the members of the U.S. Supreme Court are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, we Americans, who elect the president and our U.S. senators, of course have some voice in the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, so to call the court’s rulings (the ones that we disagree with, mostly) entirely anti-democratic is, of course, largely if not mostly bullshit.

And I’m quite confident that were same-sex marriage put to a national referendum in the U.S., it would pass.

Gallup polling this month found 60 percent support for same-sex marriage in the U.S., but a CBS News/New York Times poll taken just before the Gallup poll found 57 percent support, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken right before that one found 58 percent support. A Quinnipiac University poll taken right before that one also found 58 percent support, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken at the same time as the Quinnipiac University poll found 61 percent support.

So Gallup’s finding of 60 percent seems to be no more than within a percentage point of two of the actual level of support for same-sex marriage within the United States. (The average of the five nationwide polls cited above, which were taken this month and last month, is 58.8 percent.)

Again, were same-sex marriage put to a national referendum in the United States of America, it would pass. It’s safe for the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging haters to argue otherwise, since we never have national referenda here in the U.S., but the timid, behind-the-curve, right-of-center U.S. Supreme Court (which did, after all, decide the 2000 presidential election even though Al Gore had won more than a half-million more votes than did George W. Bush and decide that bazillionaires may have unlimited spending in elections) would not rule in favor of same-sex marriage if it weren’t confident that a solid majority of Americans are on board with it.

Because a solid majority of Americans are on board with same-sex marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps further emboldened by the latest example of Ireland, most likely will rule in favor of same-sex marriage throughout the land.

And the land will not erupt in chaos and violent upheaval, as the theofascist terrorists warn us will happen (it’s just yet another terrorist threat meant to get them their way over the majority, even though they are in the solid minority), because where same-sex marriage is concerned, the U.S. democracy, such as it is, and as slow as it always has been to bring about equal human and civil rights for all, at least in the area of the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, is working.

Not quickly enough, but it is working, and next month we truly freedom-loving and love-loving Americans most likely will be celebrating in the streets like they have been celebrating in the streets of Ireland this weekend.

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Greatness eludes ‘Elysium,’ but Blomkamp is getting better

Film review

This film image released by Columbia Pictures-Sony shows director Neill Blomkamp, left, and Matt Damon on the set of "Elysium." The film, opening nationwide on Aug. 9, is a rogue burst of originality _ a futuristic popcorn adventure loaded with contemporary themes of wealth discrepancy, immigration and health care. (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures, TriStar, Kimberly French)

Associated Press image

Writer and director Neill Blomkamp directs Matt Damon on a set of “Elysium,” Blomkamp’s second big entry into the sci-fi genre.

Like his “District 9,” writer and director Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium” is a worthwhile and entertaining but imperfect sci-fi venture in which Blomkamp takes the opportunity to inject social justice.

“Elysium” hits much closer to home here in the United States than “District 9,” which is set in Blomkamp’s native South Africa, did, however.

“Elysium” takes on at least four large American sociopolitical issues: immigration, class-based access to health care, the environmental degradation of planet Earth, and the phenomenon of the gated community, which is a euphemism for what actually are becoming privately militarized compounds as the filthy rich get richer and the rest of us get poorer and the rich want to keep the shit that they’ve stolen from us safe from us.

Set in the year 2154, in “Elysium” Matt Damon plays Max, a member of the poor working class in a future Los Angeles whose residents speak both English and Spanish. Most of Max’s companions, including his best friend Julio (played by Diego Luna) and his love interest Frey (played by Alice Braga), are Latino.

Like poor Mexicans attempt to get into the United States (although not nearly with the same frequency since the U.S. economy crashed and burned, like everything else did, under the watch of George W. Bush), poor and desperate Earthlings attempt, via spacecraft, to get into Elysium, the name of the gargantuan wheel-like space station that orbits Earth in space like the moon, and that like the moon, is visible on Earth. (The full backstory of the construction of Elysium is not given in “Elysium”; like the moon, it’s just taken as a given, which is OK, since we don’t really need the backstory anyway, since we already have a very good sense of how Elysium came to be.)

Protecting Elysium from the poor and desperate Earthlings who wish to reach it — the “illegals” — is the space-station plutocrats’ defense secretary, the sometimes-French-speaking Delacourt (an icy Jodie Foster) and legions of humanoid robots that keep the “illegals” (who even on Earth are deemed “illegals,” because they are not allowed admittance to Elysium) in line, mostly on Earth but also on Elysium should any of the “illegals” actually make it to Elysium.

Max, whose job is in a factory that manufactures the robots that keep the “illegals” in line, is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation while on the job — there is no OSHA in Blomkamp’s dystopian Los Angeles — and is given five days to live, and he finds out that Frey’s daughter has terminal leukemia.

The elites on Elysium have the automatized technology to cure a human being of any malady (as long as he or she is still alive, anyway), and Max’s underground associate Spider (Wagner Moura), who is a futuristic coyote, has a plan that could take Elysium down, and so the film takes off from there.

True, as others have noted, “Elysium” does go off the rails a bit, as it goes from a social-consciousness movie into a typical Hollywood action flick, but then, it more or less saves itself at the end, when it returns to its social-consciousness beginning.

Matt Damon carries “Elysium” well. He is a reliable workhorse of an actor. And as his own sociopolitical views lean strongly leftward, my guess is that he infused his performance with the sense that with Blomkamp he is furthering good causes (because, methinks, he is).

I found Jodie Foster’s performance, however, to be remarkably stilted and lifeless. I mean, she was nominated four times for the Best Actress Oscar and won twice. Foster’s character is supposed to be icy, I get that, but Foster nonetheless seems to have phoned it in. Some of this might be Blomkamp’s fault, however; as we get no backstory on or real development of Foster’s character, perhaps the two-dimensional portrayal is about the best that she could do.

And while Blomkamp apparently likes Sharlto Copley enough to have put the star of “District 9” in “Elysium” as well, Copley’s villainous Kruger, a mercenary who is on Delacourt’s payroll, is, as others have noted, over the top. Indeed, this villain, when compared to the other characters in the film, even that of Delacourt but perhaps especially that of Max, seems to have been cut and pasted from another film entirely… (Ditto for Kruger’s immediate associates, who also seem like refugees from a “Mad Max” movie.)

And like “District 9” does, “Elysium” suffers from some inconsistencies and some explanations that don’t make sense, as though Blomkamp hadn’t really thought all of it out.

The ubiquitous humanoid robots that keep the “illegals” in line on Earth suddenly go mostly or even entirely missing when the action moves from Earth to Elysium, and while our protagonists and antagonists battle it out on Elysium, I found myself asking myself, “Where the hell are all of the robots? They’re all over Earth, but they’re missing in action on Elysium?”

Apparently a “reboot” of Elysium’s “core” (its central computer) somehow is going to remove President Patel (Faran Tahir) — whom the right-wing, merciless Delacourt despises because she considers him to be too soft and too merciful toward the “illegals” (whose spacecraft she just wants to blow from the sky as they try to reach Elysium, without exception) — and, presumably, put Delacourt in the deposed Patel’s place.

How, exactly, the mere rebooting of a central computer would achieve that change of guard, Blomkamp doesn’t explain. Nor does he explain how the mere reprogramming of Elysium’s “core” to recognize all Earthlings as citizens of Elysium would magically mandate that all Earthlings automatically are to receive the level of medical care that the denizens of Elysium get.

I mean, it’s not like reprogramming a computer, no matter how powerful it is, is the same as reprogramming human beings. (That said, the craniums of the denizens of Elysium apparently are linked with implanted, wireless circuitry that at the least allows them to communicate hands free [Google and/or Apple is/are working on this right now, right?], and there is a character [a CEO whose corporation Max works for, played by William Fichtner] who, much like how R2-D2 held the plans to the Death Star, holds the plans to “reboot” Elysium inside of the small computer that is implanted in his head, where he has downloaded the plans, but, presumably, the over-privileged denizens of Elysium cannot be reprogrammed into believing that they actually had elected someone else as their president or that the destitute denizens of Earth suddenly now are their sociopolitical equals.)

Also, if we are to buy the central premise of “Elysium” — which is that the rich and the powerful tiny minority (the 1 percent, if you will) have fled the increasingly overpopulated, diseased and polluted Earth for their own mega-gated community in the sky, and that they have done this in order to protect and to preserve the limited, apparently scarce reserves of life-enhancing things for themselves — then how can we buy “Elysium’s” ending, which apparently portrays the 1 percent’s hoarded resources, or at least their hoarded medical-care resources, as being enough to serve at least the entire area of Los Angeles, but apparently even the entire Earth?

This does not compute…

Still, despite “Elysium’s” flaws, it’s a more than watchable film, it’s an improvement over “District 9” (and so Blomkamp seems to have a promising career ahead of him), and it’s great, of course, to see a mainstream film take a socialist-y stance on current hot topics such as immigration, access to medical care, environmentalism, and, of course, the ugly phenomenon of the gated community, which is but a manifestation of the insanely great class division that we see in the United States of America today.

I don’t expect American wingnuts to love this film, and that’s a great thing.

My grade: B+  

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Mittens insults Poles by telling Polak joke

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann meet people on the street before his meeting with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the Old Town Hall in Gdansk

Reuters photo

Mittens Romney, flanked by wife Ann, tells a Polish woman a Polak joke today in Gdansk, Poland, swiftly bringing the wrath of the Polish press upon him during his visit to Poland. Undeterred by the negative press, Mittens publicly guffawed, “How many Polaks does it take to bring down my presidential campaign?” Ann steadfastly defended her husband, telling the Poles, “You people don’t know a great leader when you see one!”

OK, so I made all of that up*, but fuck, it’s what you’d expect on the last leg of Repugnican Tea Party presidential wannabe Mittens Romney’s Rainbow Tour (Poland), which has been as disastrous for him as Eva Peron’s was for her.

First, Mittens insulted the Brits by proclaiming that their preparations for the Olympics were insufficient.

Then, in Israel, his second stop on his world tour, Mittens yesterday first declared that Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, is the true capital of Israel, which apparently comes from Mittens’ own “Christo”fascism and/or his wanting to please the Armageddon-minded “Christo”fascists — from the theocratic mindset, and not from political reality or from sanity or from fairness.

What the fuck?

As president, would Mittens proclaim that the capital of the United States actually is Salt Lake City?

Then, also in Israel, according to The Associated Press,

Romney’s latest trouble stemmed from a speech he gave to Jewish donors in which he suggested that their culture was part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians.

Kind words for Israel are standard for many American politicians, but Palestinian leaders suggested his specific comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East.

Mittens’ pronouncement of the Israelis’ supposed cultural superiority understandably pissed off the Palestinians, whom Romney apparently was calling lazy or untalented or unmotivated or some combination of these things, but shouldn’t it have pissed off Israelis and other Jews, too? I mean, isn’t the economically successful Jew a fairly offensive stereotype?

But if we’re to discuss it seriously, well, it certainly helps Israel that Israel long has been a big recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Notes Wikipedia: “Since 1985, [the U.S. government] has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel, with Israel being the largest annual recipient of American aid from 1976 to 2004 and the largest cumulative recipient of aid since World War II.” (Emphasis mine.)

So it’s not that Israel has received more $$$ from the U.S. taxpayers than has any other nation since World War II.

No.

It’s the Israelis’ culture, you see, that has made them so much more successful than are the Palestinians, whose lands the Israelis occupy, and whom the Israelis treat like the white South Africans treated the natives under apartheid.

Silly Adolf Hitler had it upside down, you see. It’s the Israelis who are the master race.

Politicians from both the corporately owned and controlled Coke Party and the Pepsi Party (a.k.a. the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, or the Democratic Party and the Republican Party — I can’t tell the difference between the two) routinely kiss the asses of the Israel-firsters, who have the powerful Israel-first lobbying organization AIPAC to do their bidding, whereas the typical American has no lobbyists working for him or her.

The Israel-firsters are those who proclaim that the U.S. government should continue to staunchly lopsidedly support Israel, regardless of the costs to the people of the United States (such as blowback for such lopsided support for Israel, such as 9/11, and such as how a lot of our own fucking tax dollars sent to Israel sure the fuck could be used here at home).

The craven politicians of the partisan duopoly want the campaign contributions from the Israel-firsters and they don’t want to be accused by the Israel-firsters of being anti-semitic for suggesting that it’s probably actually not in the best interests of the average American for the U.S. government to so blatantly show so much fucking favoritism to Israel over the other nations of the Middle East, and that do so does not make the average American safer, but makes the average American much less safe by further destabilizing the region and by increasing the likelihood of retaliatory anti-American terrorist attacks.

However, there is an awful fucking lot of money for oneself to be made by maintaining the status quo. Not only do the corrupt politicians continue to get their campaign contributions from the Israel-firsters, but these bought-and-paid-for politicians then rubber-stamp the U.S.-taxpayer-funded military invasions, like the Vietraq War, that benefit Big Oil (and other corporations, like Dick Cheney’s war-profiteering Halliburton), and the traitors who comprise the military-industrial complex get to keep stealing trillions of our tax dollars by making sure that we keep making more enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere, which then become “national security threats.”

It’s a sweet gig, if you can get it, to create a problem and then to take money for “solving” the problem that you created, to perpetually perpetrate the problem, and then to perpetually claim that you need perpetual funding to “solve” the perpetual problem that wouldn’t be perpetual if you weren’t perpetually perpetrating it.

I digress, but this is what Mittens Romney clearly promises us: More of the same. He now talks about war with Iran.

With the last Repugnican president, we were told that war with Iraq was necessary. Now, here is Mittens telling us that war with Iran is necessary.

Look how much the average American benefitted from the Vietraq War! Yes, indeed, the spoils of war trickle down, don’t they?

Except that they don’t. Since the unelected, treasonous Bush regime launched the illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War in 2003, the average American has gotten poorer and the filthy rich have gotten filthier.

The average American sure the fuck foots the bill for the wars for our plutocratic overlords’ profiteering, but the average American’s own economic situation only worsens — not to mention the number of lives lost to the plutocrats’ treasonous wars for their own personal fortunes.

I, for one, don’t feel like dying in a wholly preventable nuclear World War III because of Mittens Romney’s own lunatic “Christo”fascist beliefs and/or because of his desire to appeal to the “Christo”fascists lunatics’ belief that Israel is critical to bringing about “the end times,” which they want to do.

(This interesting paper on this topic notes:

Pentecostalists have inherited and modernized the fundamentalist end-time system that believes the end of the world will come with the establishment of Israel as a geographical entity, with borders very similar to what was outlined in the Bible, the turn of the Jews from exile, and Armageddon – a final war between Israel and all its enemies.)

By far, Mittens’ visit to Israel has been the scariest stop of his Rainbow Tour. When he rattles the saber against Iran, I believe that he’ll use it.

After all, treasonous plutocrats like Mittens Romney never pay the costs of the wars that they begin.

We do.

P.S. Speaking of King Mittens and Queen Ann, I saw this Photoshop job on Joe. My. God. today and busted up. (You need to know the story of poor Seamus Romney to understand the joke, though.)

*Well, the news photo actually was taken in Gdansk today. That part is true.

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Anarchists attack white supremacists. Hell, yeah!

Updated below (on February 29, 2012)

CHP officers hurt by Occupy protestors

Sacramento Bee/sacbee.com photo

Members of the apparent white supremacist group “South Africa Project” arrive at the California State Capitol today. The group very apparently is using real and/or fabricated killings of whites by blacks in South Africa as a cover to push a white supremacist agenda. The sign with the apparently PhotoShopped image of the injured little white girl reads, “Genocide cannot be justified” — something that is awfully interesting to hear a group of white people proclaim. But today, it’s white people who are the victims, you see.

I work near the California State Capitol building here in Sacramento, and I noticed during my lunch break today that there was a decent-sized group of people demonstrating on the Capitol grounds. This is common at the Capitol; protests, demonstrations and gatherings there are so common there that they’re easy to ignore. California is, after all, the nation’s most populous state and there are a million causes and issues, and throngs of people often travel to the Capitol for their causes.

A co-worker of mine told me as I was returning from my lunch break that members of the Occupy movement were protesting some white supremacists at the Capitol. I should go check it out, he said. My lunch break was over, so I couldn’t, but all the same, where there are white supremacists gathered it’s probably volatile and therefore your safety might be put in jeopardy, so even if I’d had the time to check it out, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t have.

But I read the headlines afterward.

Reportedly, some members of the Occupy movement threw bottles and other objects at the white supremacists as the white supremacists were leaving the Capitol grounds. (Unfortunately, I missed all of this.) Reports The Associated Press today (text in bold is my own emphasis):

Sacramento, Calif. — At least two law enforcement officers were injured [today] during a clash with members of the Occupy movement who were at the state Capitol to counter a rally by a group protesting violence by blacks against whites in South Africa.

The clash erupted in the afternoon as California Highway Patrol and Sacramento police officers were escorting about 35 members of the South Africa Project to a parking garage after their protest outside the Capitol building.

About 50 members of Occupy Oakland began throwing cans and bottles at the South Africa group and at the officers. The Occupy members then clashed with the officers as people with the pro-whites group hurried into the parking garage.

“It was the activists across the street engaging the officers,” said CHP officer Sean Kennedy.

Two officers suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital. CHP Capt. Andy Menard said one officer who was struck in the face by an object was released from the hospital. The second officer was getting X-rays after apprehending a person suspected of throwing objects, Menard said.

Kennedy said the officer who was struck by an object was showing signs of possibly being affected by some type of chemical or pepper spray.

The CHP arrested three members of the Occupy group on suspicion of disobeying an officer.

The violence abated after a large contingent of law enforcement arrived at the scene, about a block from the Capitol.

The clash followed a tense afternoon during which peace officers kept the two groups separated outside the Capitol.

Members of the South Africa Project were trying to draw attention to what they said is black-on-white violence in that country. Organizers said similar demonstrations were planned in other states and elsewhere in California.

The group was mostly male and white, some with shaved heads and prominent tattoos.

Many of the Occupy protesters, some wearing hoods or masks, said they came from the San Francisco Bay area to counter what they called a racist group affiliated with former Louisiana Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Occupy protesters had been cursing at the South Africa Project rally and at officers keeping the two sides apart.

Ryan Stark, 26, who said he is part of Occupy Sacramento, said he joined the protesters challenging the South Africa Project protesters because there needed to be a showdown.

“I didn’t throw anything … but these sorts of demonstrations need to happen,” he said, referring to the counter protest. “They do have the right to say what they want, but we’re not going to let it fly.” …

“South Africa Project” apparently is new. There is no entry for it in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia has an entry for fucking everything. However, the group’s shitty website gives me the impression that the group indeed is a white supremacist group that is using the real and/or fabricated killings of white South Africans by black South Africans (because white South Africans never have killed or otherwise oppressed any black South Africans) not only as a cover for pushing white supremacism, but as a tactic to stir up hatred — and probably violence — against blacks by whites here in the United States.

And The Associated Press’ description of the “South Africa Project’s” demonstrators — “mostly male and white, some with shaved heads and prominent tattoos.” Hmmm. Does that sound like anyone we already know and love?

(Hey, if you think I’m being inaccurate or unfair, look at the group’s own pictures of its little dog and pony show at the California State Capitol today on its own bad website and then draw your own conclusions.)

That is not free speech, the incitement of race-based violence, even if such incitement is communicated in code (as the white supremacists, including Repugnican Tea Party presidential contenders, like to communicate these days).

Therefore, in my book, white supremacists who are trying to spread their disease of race-based hatred in public don’t deserve personal protection in public.

The cops who got mildly hurt today got hurt because they were protecting, shielding — dare I say, thus even aiding and abetting — the white supremacist scumbags. (And if the cops now are being pepper-sprayed back, as the AP news story seems to suggest, well, maybe that’s what you call karma…)

Also, let’s be clear: The description of the Occupy/“Occupy” protesters who threw the objects — “some wearing hoods or masks” — sounds to me like a description of anarchists, who are a group that is distinct from the Occupy movement, and a group that pre-dates the Occupy movement by years.

Hey, if you don’t trust me, here is photographic evidence of the Occupy/“Occupy” protesters who counter-protested the white supremacists at the Capitol State Capitol today:

CHP officers hurt by Occupy protestors

Sacramento Bee/sacbee.com photo

“WHITE POWER IS HORSE SHIT.” I love that sign. Anyway, with the exception of a few, including Captain America, which is a hoot (really — I think that someone wore that costume to counter-protest white supremacists is pretty fucking funny), those “Occupy” protesters are wearing black and they have their faces covered, which is the garb of the typical anarchist — and not the garb of the typical Occupy protester.

Anarchists often infiltrate left-leaning gatherings and raise hell. That’s their thing; peaceful protests that don’t change anyfuckingthing because they don’t threaten the status quo are not the anarchists’ cup of tea.

I can’t say that I blame them for not demonstrating “nicely,” in a way that does not offend the powers that be — and thus in a way that is utterly ineffectual. We claim that we have free speech in the United States, but such “free” speech in reality often if not usually means only speech that cannot jolt the status quo. And the status quo sure the fuck needs jolting.

I have nothing against the anarchists. Anyone who goes after white supremacists who dare to spew forth their filth in the public square is fine with me, and the imagery of a bunch of supposedly bad-ass white supremacists fleeing from a mob of Occupy/“Occupy” protesters (most if not all of them actually anarchists) — the way that blacks have had to flee from mobs of white supremacists — is gratifyingly amusing.

And who knows? When/if the shit really hits the fan, I might join the anarchists’ ranks. (Black is slimming anyway…)

But, for the time being, it’s unfair and inaccurate that the corporately owned and controlled mainstream media continue to refer to fairly obvious anarchists as members of the Occupy movement when, in fact, these anarchists might not claim the Occupy movement and/or the Occupy movement might not claim them.

Your typical member of the Occupy movement does not pelt plutocrats or white supremacists or their witting or unwitting protectors, cops (many of whom are white supremacist themselves, or who at least protect and serve the white power structure), with objects.

Not yet, anyway.

P.S. Does any of this remind anyone of the American Civil War? Is this what we are headed toward — a rematch of the Civil War? Might we be presented with the opportunity to crush the white supremacists once and for all?

Update (February 29, 2012): “South Africa Project’s” home page has been updated since I first wrote about it. Now, there is a video that prominently features notorious white supremacist David Duke on the hate group’s home page. (I guess that they’re not bothering to pretend anymore.) The hate group’s home page also now features an image of a little white girl praying, accompanied by this text: “Dear Lord, please protect my big brother and my daddy and my uncles and my oupa [grandfather?] from those savages that are raping and murdering us.”

Wingnuts, not known for their subtlety, are fine with exploiting children to try to advance their ignorance and hatred — this little girl never asked to be exploited like this, and could not agree to such use of her image, since she is too young to consent, is too young to understand racism and white supremacism, but is at the total mercy of adults — and it strikes me that a child in the Middle East certainly might pray to God that the killings and maimings and other violent abuses and the wrongful incarcerations of their family members by white occupiers comes to an end. (Ditto for Palestinian children…)

At any rate, after Apartheid* in South Africa, I just can’t feel sorry for the white people there. Anything that might be happening there now that disfavors whites probably would be what you call karma, and karma is always just.

*Wikipedia notes of Apartheid:

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced by the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority non-white inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. Apartheid was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and Broederbond organizations and was practiced also in South West Africa, which was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate (revoked in 1966), until it gained independence as Namibia in 1990.

Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times. However, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups (“native”, “white”, “coloured“, and “Asian”), and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. Non-white political representation was completely abolished in 1970, and starting in that year black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of white people.

Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence as well as a long trade embargo against South Africa. Since the 1950s, a series of popular uprisings and protests were met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more violent, state organisations responded with increasing repression and state-sponsored violence.

Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid still shape South African politics and society.

So: According to the hate group “South Africa Project,” we are to feel sorry for whites in South Africa today, despite their long history of depriving black South Africans of their equal human and civil rights, based upon their race. We’re to cry in our beer for these white supremacists. We are to focus on their more recent woes and totally ignore the crimes against humanity that they perpetrated upon others over a very long period of time.

Again, one word comes to mind:

Karma.

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If she’s a he, then she shouldn’t be allowed to compete against shes

South African athlete Caster Semenya, who identifies as a female, apparently doesn’ t have external male genitalia but has, in lieu of ovaries, undescended testicles that produce a significant amount of testosterone, the news media are reporting.

I’m no geneticist, but it seems to me that if you have testicles at all, you very most likely possess the male — XY — chromosomes.

Which makes you, biologically, a male, regardless of what is or is not between your legs — and regardless of whether you identify as a male or a female.

Therefore, Semenya’s biologically female competitors are correct — if Semenya possesses the XY chromosomes — that Semenya is a biological male.

Whether or not biological males and biological females should be allowed to compete against each other in athletics is an argument for another time. But if we accept that sex-based athletic segregation is appropriate, and Semenya is a biological male, then Semenya should not be allowed to compete against biological females. No argument.

In any case, Semenya’s reported internal testicles aside, does Semenya not look like a male?

FILE -- In this Monday Aug. 17, 2009 file photo South Africa's ...

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2009, file photo, South Africa's Caster ...

Associated Press photos

Semenya has no breasts at all. I’m no physician, but this indicates to me that Semenya has little to no estrogen coursing through her veins. But her biologically female competitors presumably do have significant amounts of estrogen circulating within them. Whether or not it’s testosterone or estrogen that is predominant in one’s bloodstream would make a huge difference in athletic ability, it seems to me.

If Semenya wants to identify as a female, that’s fine with me; I’ll then consider Semenya to be a female.

But in the world of competitive athletics, someone possessing the XY chromosomes and a shitload of testosterone has an unfair advantage over those who possess the female (XX) chromosomes and are fueled by estrogen.

And I just can’t believe that I’ve gone this long without making a crack about the name “Semenya” in a post about someone with undescended testicles.

And I needed to write this in order to prove that I am able to write about a topic other than “Joe” Wilson. And I’ll stop now before I start commenting on his testicles.

P.S. The term “hermaphrodite” is misleading, so I don’t use it to describe Semenya. It is, to my knowledge, impossible to possess both testicles and ovaries; you have one or the other, regardless of what your external genitalia look like. It certainly is impossible to possess both reproductively functioning male and female reproductive organs. Even the term “intersex” I am not crazy about, because, again, regardless of what is or is not between your legs, you possess the XY or the XX chromosomes, not something in between, certain chromosomal abnormalities notwithstanding.

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Jackson-endorsed ‘District 9’ watchable but often nonsensical and lacking detail

The alien's stalled mother ship in a scene from "District ...

This movie still released by Sony Pictures shows, left to right, ...

Reuters and Associated Press images

Arthropodic extraterrestrials’ ship is stalled above Johannesburg, South Africa, in stills from the Peter Jackson-endorsed “District 9,” which came in at No. 1 at the box office this weekend.

I love a good science fiction movie, especially one with political overtones, and since according to Yahoo!’s roundup, the film critics gave “District 9” an average grade of “A-“ — and since “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson gave “District 9” his stamp of approval (he is one of the film’s producers, and the ads for “District 9” tell us this) — I dragged the boyfriend to it yesterday.

I give it a “B.”

“District 9” has some interesting concepts, such as the apparent parallels between the “prawns” (the crustacean-like extraterrestrials put in a concentration camp called District 9 in South Africa after they found themselves stranded on Earth) and the Palestinians in occupied Palestine, and private military corporation “MNU” (“Multi-National United”) and private military corporation Blackwater, but “District 9” has too many elements that just don’t make sense for me to be able to give it anything higher than a “B.”

Where to begin?

There is the mysterious black liquid extract — we’re never told what it consists of — made in an ET’s shack like an impoverished, desperate person might make methamphetamine in his shack, and this mysterious black liquid, which took the ET two decades to make, not only powers the stranded ETs’ ship, which still hovers (somehow — that’s not explained either) over Johannesburg, but also somehow slowly turns the human protagonist into one of the ETs after he accidentally splashes himself with it. (The mysterious black liquid probably is a great stain remover, too…)

Then there is the alternating view of the ETs’ capabilities. At first they’re portrayed as rather savage and stupid, caring only about feasting upon livestock carcasses (especially the heads, for some reason) and canned cat food (yes, canned cat food), and then at least one of them, the protagonist ET, is portrayed as having quite sophisticated technological ability, far surpassing that of humans.

The human protagonist is portrayed as being about as sympathetic to the ETs as any of his human counterparts are ever going to be — he doesn’t like it when the ETs are exterminated wantonly by MNU’s hair-triggered, testosterone-overdosed mercenaries — yet in one scene he demonstrates that he has no problems with the destruction of the ETs’ young, noting that when set aflame, the ET-ling pods make an interesting popping sound. (Apparently the ETs are to get human approval before reproducing, and these young thus were “illegal.”)

If District 9 is a closed-off area meant to contain the ETs, then why do the ETs have such frequent, such apparently casual contact with the South African gang members?

Speaking of which, how, exactly, do humans and the ETs have sexual relations? (Apparently female human prostitutes cater to the male ETs, and the protagonist human apparently is accused of having had sex with a female ET.)

What exactly were the medical experiments that MNU was conducting on the hapless ETs?

Was the protagonist ET especially intelligent for his kind? Was he a special kind of his kind? Were the other ETs like worker bees, not meant to be very intelligent?

While I love to empathize with an extraterrestrial, especially a benign one persecuted by ignorant humans, would a crustaceous extraterrestrial really regard its offspring the way that a human male would regard his son? Would the crusty ET’s offspring really be kind of like a little boy? And wouldn’t such an ET have many offspring, and not just one? And where was the mommy ET?

“District 9” is watchable enough, but I’m the kind of person who needs a movie to make sense.

I’m sure that it’s not easy to create such an alternate reality as director and screenwriter Neill Blomkamp did in “District 9” — there are so many angles that you have to look from in such creation, and so many details that you have to create in order to satisfy those angles — and I don’t have to have every little thing explained to me, but what is (more or less…) explained to me at least should have its own internal logic.

When it doesn’t, that interferes with my ability to enjoy the film, and that’s why I can give “District 9” only a “B.” It’s a good-enough idea, but its execution is lacking. Attention to its own internal logic seems to have been sacrificed for special effects, such as the climactic battle scene of the protagonist human in the automated body armor that is too reminiscent of what we’ve already seen in “Iron Man” and even in “Aliens” (ditto for the fried alien eggs; we saw those in “Aliens,” also).

My grade: B

P.S. I’m not familiar with South Africa’s history, but film critic Roger Ebert explains in his review of “District 9”:

The film’s South African setting brings up inescapable parallels with its now-defunct apartheid system of racial segregation. Many of them are obvious, such as the action to move a race out of the city and to a remote location. Others will be more pointed in South Africa. The title “District 9” evokes Cape Town’s historic District 6, where Cape Coloureds (as they were called then) owned homes and businesses for many years before being bulldozed out and relocated.

The hero’s name, van der Merwe, is not only a common name for Afrikaners, the white South Africans of Dutch descent, but also the name of the protagonist of van der Merwe jokes, of which the point is that the hero is stupid. Nor would it escape a South African ear that the alien language incorporates clicking sounds, just as Bantu, the language of a large group of African apartheid targets.

Being unfamiliar with South Africa, the parallels between the real South Africa and the South Africa portrayed in “District 9” were quite escapable to me… I still see a parallel between the “prawns” and the Palestinians, however, and with the plight of the Palestinians being portrayed in the media to this day, it seems to me that I’m probably not alone.

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