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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

It's not just race. It's fear of all "others." And the religion of guns.

As for the seeming worsening of not just racism, bias, and unequal treatment, but tribalistic fear, brutality and killing in general, things have taken a turn for the worse.

What's gotten worse is that the middle and working class -- white, black, and otherwise -- is being squeezed out of existence. Everyone is more afraid that they don't have enough, and might lose what they have. Poor and middle class white people are again tempted (and encouraged) to worry more about poor people of color than about the wealthy and powerful who are actually threatening their well being.

The police are a mechanism haves rely on to enforce the status quo, less the have nots get wound up and start thinking about taking things for themselves. I think there is a growing paranoia amongst the more powerful and privileged that the lack of balance is a direct threat to their well-being. Law enforcement receives this thinking, and becomes ever more wary of the "others" getting out of hand. That feeds on itself. Poor communities receive heavy-handed treatment and abuse, and become wary and defensive themselves. Every interaction is more fraught.

Those with the guns and the authority become more determined to assert absolute authority, lest civic unrest build momentum. They become increasingly brutal out of fear they will be overrun. We are America, and our culture runs immediately to black vs. white, because that is history. But racist behavior by law enforcement is a canary in a larger coal mine. Anyone without power is subject to increasing abuse and increasing levels of violence justified by authority. No-knock warrants. Flash-bangs thrown at babies to stop imaginary pot dealers. Grandmothers tased. Homeless beaten to death. Tanks and tear gas vs. signs and marches.

Hyper-violent law enforcement is becoming the norm for everyone not sufficiently plugged in to call a lawyer ahead of time.

And then we have our new religion about guns. Specifically, the growing ideology that self defense via lethal violence is not only an option, not only a "right," but some kind of sacred civic duty.

We no longer talk about lethal force being a last resort. It's now the first resort. We are being pushed to acknowledge a right to carry weapons absolutely everywhere, so that some can be prepared to kill whenever they feel "fear." New laws insist that killing someone else is not only possibly justified, but in some cases PRESUMPTIVELY justified. Underlying all of this is the implicit suggestion that we must make sure the "right" people are armed, less the "others" run amok.

We need a paradigm shift where we move our suspicions away from those who look one way or the other and those with slightly more or slightly less economic or social status, and focus on the top, from which the real pain the real threat is emanating.

I find the general "take" on this topic in this thread bizarre.

I agree with CG.

I find people's insistence that a near-adult male having relations with young adult females is "exactly the same" as either child sexual assault or rape (non-statutory) very strange.

It really is not the same thing, and it is a dangerously disingenuous game to pretend that it is.

There is a separate issue here with adult authority figures and the teacher / student relationship. I don't think anyone is missing the inappropriateness there. I have no argument with that behavior being punished or banned.

But we are absolutely watering down what sexual assault really means when we try to equate a line we draw the best we can between "children" and "adults" for purposes of lawful consent, and either sexual assault on a non-consenting person or an adult preying on a child. At least when that line is determined by a matter of a few months of age.

I also disagree that the differences between male and female sexuality are cultural bias as some say. Sexuality is the ACTUAL difference between men and women. We don't process things the same way, and male vs. female physicality has real implications when we are talking about assumptions of coercion or assault.

I agree that the "high-five, kid" attitude is off base. But equally off-base is the argument that there is no distinction between a lack of consent we determine by means of our collective "best guess" as to when a child becomes an adult and child abuse or sexual assault on someone who has not given consent at all, legally "valid" or not. The argument that child rape on Tuesday becomes private sexual conduct Wednesday is some kind of weird attempt at reprogramming reality and is not okay.

It is a disservice to the seriousness of the crimes of rape and child abuse to insist on making no distinction between something that, had it happened a few months down the road, would be regarded as the private behavior of consenting adults, and a horrific crime of a abuse and coercion.

There is a distinction. It may or may not be justifiable to treat a 16 or 17-yr-old as though he had no ability to consent, but to not recognize that is a legal distinction we are imposing, not a certain reality, is frankly specious.

We are trying to pick an age where "consent" does not mean "consent," (and that is okay) but it is inherently artificial and vague.

All the half-sane Republicans are becoming Democrats.

The Republican Party has become the victim of its own propaganda, in my opinion. All they ever really wanted before was a general protection of the status quo and entrenched power structures.

And all the money, of course.

Then they discovered the power of cultural warfare. Newt Gingrich didn't invent it, but he raised hating "liberals" -- as opposed to debating liberal vs. conservative policies -- to a new level.

And it worked. They couldn't win when they were stuck arguing that pollution is good and taxing the wealthy was bad, but boy, does a certain segment of the population hate hippies and protesters and smartypants college professors and journalists.

Once they got that rolling, facts really didn't matter anymore. No one actually thinks pollution isn't heating the atmosphere or that poor people have it too easy, or that educators, journalists and scientists are all motivated by "bias." But it's become a simple-minded cheering exercise, so the more extreme and liberal-infuriating the idea, the better.

But then some conservatives begain to actually believe the crazy-town extremist stuff. H.W. Bush is an old-school oligarch, and he actually laughed at True Believer Reagan's "voodoo" trickle-down economics. What Republican would even think of arguing against "making the rich richer solves all problems" today?

So now they're a bit stuck. Their most popular figures are the Palins and Ryans and Cruzes. Wackadoos with Fluffernutter upstairs who think Ayn Rand was a "philosopher," blastocysts are people, and skyrocketing C02 levels are "good for the plants."

They have become so extreme they can't nominate anyone smart enough to pull off clever corruption anymore.

Republicans will probably dial it back, eventually, but in the meantime, the left is getting diluted with people who still think corporations are people, and that they can help Democrats come around to a more reasonable point of view where the rich still run everything and everyone and we still spend most of our money trying to micromanage Middle Eastern countries through warfare, and pollution is still pretty much okay, but maybe some progress on social issues is permitted, here and there.

Just give Wallstreet your retirement fund and your home and your future, and we'll see what we can do.

We can do better.

People deliberately talking past each other.

As someone -- maybe Chris Hayes yesterday? pointed out, it's always a bit silly and potentially bigoted for members of one cultural subgroup to attempt to characterize any other group of "those people" as a whole.

As Hayes and this piece both point out, we wouldn't put up with sweeping statements about all "Jews" or "Christians" being peaceful or violent or good or bad or what have you. All of "them" are not one thing or the other, period.

At the root, we can draw rational conclusions about what people DO, not who they are. A fair chunk of people in countries in the Middle East are beset by extremists with nasty ideas about a lot of things -- women, justice, religious freedom.

Funny thing is, we are beset here in the U.S. by people of supposedly different religious backgrounds who also have nasty ideas about a lot of the same things. Yes, we are more stable and have a more secular form of government, and the Crusades were a long time ago and blah and blah and blah. It's generally less extreme. But it's not like "they" have all the stupid ideas and "we" don't.

We get nowhere arguing that this or that "holy book" or the people born into one religious tradition or another are problem. No one is going to "win" a Best Religious People of the World trophy or anything.

The desire to pick winners and losers based on religious identity is a low, tribalistic one, that we supposedly all ageed was a super bad idea a while back. We are not going to eliminate or subjugate *a religion* for being "bad."

But we can talk about bad acts and bad ideas, and we can stop excusing any of them on the basis they are written in anyone's holy book. We be better atheists and Jews and Muslims and Christians.

Then maybe someday, we can all have sandwiches with Ben Affleck.
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