Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stand Your Ground

In which an unarmed minor dies of a gunshot wound wielded by a suburban vigilante, who decided to take the law in his hands even though Trayvon Martin was not breaking any law and the 911 dispatcher told him to stay inside his car.
No one saw the altercation. No one was on the street. In places like Sanford, Florida people live in gated communities in houses where they can go weeks without seeing a neighbor. Then they get in their cars by themselves. They live in fortresses, and because of this isolation, they are paranoid that someone is going to harm them. This is why they feel they need to have guns to defend their property. They act as if there is no one around them, and they are all alone in the world. No society, no community. This is why they have absurd laws like Stand Your Ground. Although we can surmise that had this entailed the shooting death of a white 17 year-old with skittles in his pocket, murdered by the same man, Zimmerman would have fried, his white last name notwithstanding. Because it is about race, but race gets worse in the suburbs.
In a city teeming with people we share the space with all kinds of other people. We feel safer because we don't feel so alone. And we know better than to assume that because someone is black and wearing a hoodie, our lives are in imminent danger. We may think racist thoughts, but we learn to recognize signs. We simply are more in contact with all kinds of people and this creates a certain social cohesion that seems to be missing from less crowded places.
Racism of course, plays a big part. But the more you live in proximity to different kinds of people, from different ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic levels, beliefs and gender orientations, the more you share the space, the broader criteria you have to wield your prejudices. The city provides a saner reality check than the lurid fantasies that come from living in isolation. We laugh about the people we hate in the subway, but we live in peace with them, in very tight quarters.
Living in the suburbs may give you lots of space, but it is isolating and can lead to delusions of blacks coming to rob you, immigrants coming to steal your job and use your hospitals, and you, some sort of lonely Daniel Boone, armed in your own cocoon, fearsome of everything that is out there.
Zimmerman is already rotting in a hell of his own making. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Newsflash: Your Rights and The Constitution Are In The Toilet

One has only to read a paper, or rather browse through Facebook, to come across daily occurrences of blatant disregard of laws and citizens' rights in this country. Ever since 9/11, the most damage those satanic terrorists inflicted in this country has been the rise of a secret police state and the erosion of the legal guarantees and freedoms we all think we still have as we happily watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. It ain't the land of the free anymore.
And guess what? It's a slippery slope. You start with "enemy combatants": no trial, no habeas corpus, no nada, stick them in Guantánamo indefinitely, torture them and force feed them if they go on hunger strike, and next thing you know, every law enforcement department in the country feels free to dump on the Constitution.
A kid in Florida is in jail since February and on half a million dollars bail for making a really stupid comment in Facebook. 
The house of a guy in Nevada is stormed by armed police after he refuses to let them in to conduct a stakeout.
A young woman buys a case of water and is arrested and sent to jail by plainclothes police as if she were Pablo Escobar.
The government keeps track of everything you ever wrote or said, now with broader powers through a secret body of law, etc.
Who's next? I don't ask where's the outrage because it is useless. We are all looking the other way, making no waves, confident that no one is ever gonna come and get us.
Barack Obama pretends to be a champion of change while presiding over the trashing of the Constitution, the disregard for the Geneva Convention, etc.
I voted for the guy twice, as most people I know. His record on immigration deportations is worse than Bush's. Countless human rights abuses happen every minute at the for-profit jails where illegal immigrants fester waiting to be deported. Guantánamo is still there, and not getting any better.
If it were Dick Cheney, you'd be up in arms.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Response To A Long Time Reader

I got a comment from "A Long Time Reader" relating to my post on gender discrimination in the advertising business. You can see the post and the comment here.

This is my response:

Thanks for reading, Long Time Reader.
Don't you find it a little naive to think there are no women out there making it on their own? Have you heard of the gal who wrote the Harry Potter books? Oprah Winfrey? I know several women entrepreneurs that have started their own businesses, totally on their own, without expecting anything from anyone but respect and a fair shake, and they have it much tougher than the guys. Lines of credit don't open as easily for them, people don't listen as seriously. They are hardworking, intelligent risk-takers. They are not any less capable than any guy. In fact, they have to work harder to overcome stereotypes and ingrained attitudes. It is not their fault. We just happen to have a deeply ingrained, millennial culture that assumes that men are natural leaders and women are not, because for centuries, women were not allowed to read, study in universities, vote, have professions, have their own businesses, or simply be independent human beings. They were supposed to stay home, breed, and obey the male. How could one compete? To this day, some men still believe they get to decide on what women do with their own sexuality and their pregnancies. The nerve.
At this point, the discrimination, the patronizing, the looking down on women, are embedded in our cultural DNA. It may not always be conscious, or malicious, but that's the way it is.
Look at porn. Porn is a good example of the imbalance between the genders.
Why is it always the woman who is shown to be acted upon, penetrated, manhandled, increasingly with more violence and alienation? Why isn't there a more equal porn where both men and women are objects of erotic desire? Because that is how men look at women. And men don't want to look at other men. And women have been taught that they can't really express themselves sexually. That they should be pure and chaste and not sluts. It's a man's world. And now, there are entire generations of kids who grow up thinking that the ridiculous, ugly, pounding sex in porn is normal sex. You guys are not doing a good job.
Women who object to this state of affairs are called "whiners" by people like you.
I agree that women have to fight hard for equality and fairness. As I said in my post, we have to start our own fight. But men will defend their status quo tooth and nail. Why? Because men know, as the fanatics of every religion that wants to keep women down know (pretty much all of them), that the minute women have truly equal footing, this will mean real freedom, real democracy, real civilization, real human progress. Keeping women down is the first, most basic, most intimate form of human oppression. It is the essence of barbarism.
The question we should be asking is why women have tolerated and abetted this through the ages.
But in this day and age, when religious belief is utterly irrelevant, and we are not hunting Mammoths and living in caves, women have every right to demand equality, fairness and respect. That is not whining or begging, that is plain dignity.
Modernity, however, is no guarantee of civilization. Look at the Holocaust. Look at every genocide since then. Look at the American South up to the 1960's. Look at two young football players who gang raped a girl recently and bragged about it all over social media. Someone on CNN was sorry that their brilliant future careers were over.
It is still imperative for those who are treated unfairly to fight for equal opportunity and justice.
As for your opinions about begging blacks and grousing Jews, they seem to me pernicious and naive generalizations. There are many successful black people, like our very own President Obama; and there are countless Jews who beg and don't have a pot to piss on.
If certain groups don't have the political, economic, or social power to change their situation, what are they supposed to do? If Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement had not "whined" and demanded, would there still be segregation and lynchings in the South? If women had not demanded the right to an education, to vote, to equal pay? We'd all be attending mindless Tupperware parties in Stepford.
That's not progress. That is regression.
In short, I think we do not protest enough, but I suspect that we have very different worldviews. Thank you for your readership.