Paradox and Hypocrisy

by matttbastard

Fatemeh Fakhraie examines the reaction garnered by the story of a female Saudi gang rape victim who was recently sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison as punishment for speaking to Saudi media outlets about the crime perpetrated against her. Fakhraie laments the subsequent no win situation Muslim women often find themselves in when situations like the Saudi incident arise, forced to choose whether to defend themselves “against Islamophobia, against racism, or against misogyny”:

This “triple threat” is one we often face as Muslim women (especially if we are also women of color). We always seem to be battling against one (or more) of these three issues: racism (for Muslim women who are also non-white), Islamophobia, or misogyny (not just from our own Muslim communities, but also from non-Muslim communities who think they know what’s best for us).

Being on the defensive all the time creates reactionary behavior. We always feel like we have to keep our guards up to defend our faith and our choices, and it gets tiring. Most Muslims don’t necessarily mind explaining stuff (that is, if you’re genuinely interested in understanding instead of starting an argument), but we can’t all be Encyclopedia Islamicas all the time.

Some of this “damage control” keeps us from having dialogues within our communities. Muslim women face a lot of problems within our communities as well as outside, but we’re afraid to talk about it because it can potentially be used against us. People in our own communities this power: for example, feminists in Iran are accused of being too “Westernized” by compatriots who have no interest in changing the status quo for women. Many women who seek their fair share are given this load of crap in order to guilt them into shutting up, because Westernization is equated with undesirable qualities in the Muslim world. Or, if we try to speak out to a non-Muslim audience, we are accused of “betraying” Islam or our communities by airing out our “dirty laundry.”

And this is a legitimate fear. We don’t want to reinforce negative ideas about Islam, Muslim men and women, or Muslims of any race. But if our own communities won’t listen to us or engage in a dialogue to raise awareness and potentially enact change (phew, a lot of buzzwords in there!), what else are we supposed to do?

Related: Laila Lalami reviews The Politics of the Veil by historian Joan Wallach Scott, which “examines the particular French obsession with the foulard [headscarf], which culminated in March 2004 with the adoption of a law that made it illegal for students to display any “conspicuous signs” of religious affiliation.” As Lalami notes, “both Islamic Sharia and strict French laïcité produced gender systems that essentially deprived women of the right to dispose of their bodies as they wished”:

[I[n Islamic tradition, women are urged to be modest and to steer clear of tabarruj. This Arabic noun has its roots in the verb baraja, which means “to display” or “to show off,” and the noun can be translated as something like “affectation.” In A Season in Mecca, his narrative book about the pilgrimage, Moroccan anthropologist Abdellah Hammoudi uses the term “ostentation” to translate tabarruj, “the invariable term for a bearing that is deemed immodest or conspicuous, a hieratic stance.” Similarly, the French law born out of strict definitions of laïcité warned schoolgirls about displaying “conspicuous” signs of religious affiliation. In short, the battle between the two modes of thinking was played out in women’s bodies.

The sexual argument against the foulard was common in France in 2003, although by that point the word “foulard” had all but disappeared from public discourse and was replaced by voile, or veil, which covers the entire face except for the eyes. This was erroneous but not entirely innocent, of course, because it made it possible for commentators to talk in terms of more general stereotypes of Muslim women in places like Yemen, where the veil is prevalent, rather than the reality of suburban Paris, where it is not. More recently, in an interview with a London-based newspaper, Bernard-Henri Lévy went as far as to say that “the veil is an invitation to rape.” It is perverse to suggest that a woman is inviting rape by the way she dresses, but such is the extreme that Lévy will go to in order to preserve the idea of a homogeneous female European identity. In this view, a European woman is uncovered, and that signifies both her availability to the male gaze as well as her liberation.

It is interesting, too, that Lévy demands for himself that which he is not willing to give others. In 2004 he hired the designer Andrée Putman to renovate his vacation home in Tangier. The home lies next to the famous Café Hafa, whose regulars once included Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet, and which has unparalleled views of the Mediterranean. Patrons of the cafe can no longer enjoy an unobstructed view, however, because during the renovations Lévy constructed a wall around his terrace, where his wife, the actress and singer Arielle Dombasle, likes to sunbathe. Lévy reportedly wanted to protect her from the eyes of the men at the Café Hafa. Unveiling only goes one way, it seems.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote Of The Day 2: High-Brow Panty-Sniffing

by matttbastard

sigh.jpg

The goal of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy isn’t merely to win — it’s to make the public feel that any Democrat who might attain real power is someone no decent person should associate with, someone we should cross the street to avoid, someone whose intentions and goals are dangerous — if not unspeakable. That’s the message being spread right now about Hillary Clinton in these linked communications. She is a lesbian agent of terror. Her vagina will get us all killed.

Steve M., nailing it.

Seriously, Matt Drudge and Rupert Murdoch, along with Beltway/blogosphere rodents who are always so quick to mindless scurry in line when the first few notes are breathlessly played by the aforementioned VRWC opinion-pipers, still personify everything that is wrong with contemporary political journalism. Welcome to the official kickoff to real 2008 campaign press coverage. Check your standards at the door, right alongside your brain.

Via Memeorandum

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Shifting Paradigms

by matttbastard

– speech by Naomi Wolf, author of “The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot,” given October 11, 2007 at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus.

– interview with Naomi Wolf re: “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot”

Related: Naomi Wolf on Blackwater and the “newly created thug caste” (h/t LadyBroadoak).

Flashback: David Neiwert: Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis and The Rise of Pseudo Fascism: An essay (both PDF format); Chris Hedges: The Christian Right and the Rise of American Fascism; Matthew N. Lyons: Is the Bush Administration Fascist?

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: Equal Opportunity Electrocution

by matttbastard

“Obviously, (law enforcement agencies) don’t want to use a Taser [sic] on young children, pregnant woman or elderly people… . But if in your policy you deliberately exclude a segment of the population, then you have potentially closed off a tool that could have ended a confrontation.

– Sgt. Donald Davis, King County sheriff’s dept (Washington), commenting after a 2005 incident in which an electronic control deviceSM®OMFGWTFBBQ!!!1 was used on a woman (of colour) who, at the time, was 8 months pregnant. She had refused to sign a traffic ticket (shades of Jared Massey). fern hill has more (much more, sigh) on how some law enforcement agencies have a strict non-discrimination policy regarding the (indiscriminate) use of stun guns.

“I have a dream”, indeed.

Related: Do electronic control devicesSM®OMFGWTFBBQ!!!1 actually save lives? There are at least six families this past week who would contend otherwise.

Recommend this post @ Progressive Bloggers

Lazy Sunday

by matttbastard

Have many non-web related activities to attend to today, so expect light blogging from yours truly. Feel free to entertain yourselves with the following vids, tucked below the fold. Hey, if any of my wayward cobloggers feel inspired to emerge from hiding…

Continue reading

Truthful Lies, Respectable Murder

by matttbastard

“A lie repeated often enough becomes truth.”

– Vladimir Lenin

Via Alison, seeds of confusion and doubt continue to be sown through an unofficial private/public partnership that has been cultivated between law enforcement officials and the private security sector. Some believe there could be deadly consequences as a result of this convergence.

The Globe:

“Three months before Robert Dziekanski was tasered, the RCMP adopted a change in force protocol that allows officers to fire multiple shocks to control people under certain circumstances.

Until August, officers trained to use stun guns were cautioned to avoid using them more than once because of concerns about health effects. However, the force’s belief that excited-delirium symptoms can escalate and cause death outweighed their worries about the impact of multiple shocks.

But the term “excited delirium” is not formally recognized by the World Health Organization nor the American Medical Association as an actual psychological or medical condition.

However, the condition is being used increasingly by coroners tasked with attributing causes of death among victims in police custody. David Evans, Ontario’s regional supervising coroner for investigations, described it as a “forensic term” not a medical one.

“I think previous to the description of excited delirium, [it] was sometimes called custody death,” he said.

Cpl. Gilles conceded that the policy on multiple taser shots “may be hazardous. We don’t know.”

“[M]ay be hazardous. We don’t know.” Well, what the hell do we know? I’m going to quote from my November 15th post detailing the fallout from the release of the Robert Dziekanski video:

CBC News just interviewed…and posted this rather one-sided backgrounder featuring University of Miami neurology professor Deborah Mash, the designated go-to ‘expert’ on bullshit cover stories “excited delirium”. The Lede has more on Professor Mash and ‘excited delirium’, which, as noted earlier this year by an NPR report, “is not recognized by professional medical associations, and [is not] listed in the chief psychiatric reference book.” Part 2 of the report is also entirely relevant, focusing on the vested interest law enforcement officials and [TASER] International have in marketing the dubious disorder and includes the following abridged list of individuals who have died in police custody after being [shocked], with the cause of death listed as ‘excited delirium’:

  • June 13, 2005 – Shawn C. Pirolozzi, 30, of Canton, Ohio, dies after police tried to subdue him with a Taser. His death certificate listed excited delirium as the cause of death. The Taser was not listed as a contributing factor.
  • April 21, 2006 — Alvin Itula, 35, dies after a struggle with Salt Lake City police. Itula led officers on a foot chase, then fought with them when the officers caught up, according to police. Officers tased Itula and also used pepper spray and a baton. Itula stopped breathing soon after. The medical examiner found that Itula died of excited delirium brought on by methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • April 24, 2006 — Jose Romero, 23, dies in Dallas police custody. He was in his underwear, screaming and holding a knife on his neighbor’s porch. Police tased him multiple times. He died shortly thereafter. The Dallas County medical examiner ruled Romero died of excited delirium.
  • Sept. 5, 2006 — Larry Noles, 52, dies in Louisville, Ky., after a struggle with police. Noles, an ex-Marine, was standing naked in the middle of a street when police were called. Police said he was agitated. They tased him two or three times. He died a few minutes later. The Jefferson County medical examiner ruled Noles died because of excited delirium and not the Taser.
  • Oct. 29, 2006 — Roger Holyfield, 17, dies after police in Jerseyville, Ill., shocked him twice with a Taser. Holyfield had been walking down a street, holding a phone in one hand and a Bible in the other, yelling that he wanted Jesus. After policed shot him with the stun gun, Holyfield went into a coma; he died the following day. A medical examiner ruled the death was probably a result of excited delirium.
  • Dec. 17, 2006 — Terill Enard, 29, dies following a disturbance at a Waffle house in Lafayette, La. He was naked and yelling, with a broken leg bone piercing his skin. Police stunned Enard with a Taser; he died several hours later. Police said the forensic report from the Lafayette Parish coroner’s office found Enard died as a result of “cocaine-induced excited delirium.”

…[V]ia MistahTibbs in comments @ The Politic, “the RCMP said after Dziekanski’s death that he was in a state of excited delirium,” according to a Canadian Press report published October 14th.

So, we know that as a medical term ‘excited delirium’ is meaningless. What else? Well, we also know that electronic control deviceSM®OMFGWTFBBQ!!!1 manufacturer TASER International really doesn’t like having its products’ reputation tainted by suggestions of deadly complicity:

“We are taken aback by the number of media outlets that have irresponsibly published conclusive headlines blaming the TASER device and / or the law enforcement officers involved as the cause of death before completion of the investigation. These sensationalistic media reports completely ignore the earmark symptoms of excited delirium shown in the video. TASER International is transmitting over 60 legal demand letters requiring correction of these false and misleading headlines and will take other actions as appropriate. These unsubstantiated, false headlines mislead the public and could adversely influence public policy in ways which could place the lives of both law enforcement and the public at greater risk,” concluded Tom Smith, Founder and Chairman of the Board of TASER International, Inc.

“[C]ould adversely influence public policy in ways which could place the lives of both law enforcement and the public at greater risk”. Try ‘may put our bottom line at risk.’ As Randy Burton of the StarPhoenix notes, in just over a decade stun guns have grown in ubiquity, with TASER International apparently hoping to expand the market beyond law enforcement to the private sphere:

For just $349.99 American citizens can zap somebody with thousands of volts of electricity. Sorry, they’re not available in Canada yet, where Tasers are still classified as a restricted weapon.

But in the U.S. it’s open season, and the company promotion seems very empowering, too.

The Taser website shows an attractive young woman under the caption “I Will Control My Own Destiny.” If not for the pictures of stun guns in four designer colours, it could be an ad for university enrolment.

In the hands of the marketing specialists, the Taser has become just another tool for conducting a successful contemporary life, like a cellphone or a BlackBerry.

You have to get to the fine print in the legal warnings before you learn to watch out for something the manufacturer calls “Sudden In Custody Death Syndrome.” [Apparently someone didn’t get the memo re: change in terminology–mb.] This is marketing speak for “watch out you don’t kill somebody.”

Somehow the warning to “avoid torturous or other misuse” fails to reassure that the Taser will only be used by the right people in the right circumstances. Lethal technology has a way of putting itself in the wrong hands.

While it’s touted as a major step forward in law enforcement, it’s just as likely to be making life much easier for back alley muggers.

Of course, that’s the way technology works. What begins with a very specialized use soon becomes democratized to the point where it’s accessible to the masses. Inevitably, yesterday’s dangerous implement becomes today’s purse accessory.

And so it is with the Taser. You don’t have to look very far to find plenty of examples of its use or misuse, as the case may be.

The things are ubiquitous. In the last 10 years, some 11,000 law enforcement agencies in 44 countries have started to use them. Of these, 3,500 agencies equip all of their patrol officers with the powerful stun gun. As we know, not all uses end with a happy conclusion.

There’s a quote most famously attributed to Benito Mussolini that springs to mind: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Though some dispute its origins, there’s no denying the inherent truth of the statement, even if apocryphal.

JJ does the hammer/nail/head thing:

I hate to keep banging this drum, but that’s tough, because it’s true: one of the first signs of authoritarianism bullying its way into our society is apologist propaganda, including the invention of new quasi-credible-sounding terminology to rationalize inhumane treatment… .

Yeah, “apologist propaganda” and bullying authoritarianism by way of litigious threats (h/t April Reign) and obfuscating press releases. This “quasi-credible-sounding terminology” has been utilized by a corporate entity (and, in a merger of interests, further legitimized by the State) to market a product–“another tool for conducting a successful contemporary life, like a cellphone or a BlackBerry.” Of course, to my knowledge cellphones and BlackBerries have yet to be scrutinized by the United Nations’ Committee against Torture, out of fear that indiscriminate use of the aforementioned lifestyle tools “constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases…could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use.” (h/t Alison.)

Why (vehemently, boldly, zealously) rationalize inhumane treatment, with truth counted among the increasing collateral damage?

In this instance, we know they do so because it is profitable.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Today: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski

by matttbastard

Vancouver: Protest against RCMP using excessive force on Robert!
Host: Facebook Group – “Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer [sic] Death”

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Downtown Vancouver, Art Gallery (Georgia Street side)
City/Town: Vancouver, BC

Description:
A protest against the brutality shown in the video, which resulted in the death of new immigrant Robert Dziekanski, 40. Please express your interest by showing up next Saturday November 24th, downtown at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Georgia Street side. Rally will commence 12pm. Please try to wear the red/white colors of the deceased’s Polish heritage, in his memory. Remember, this is about awareness of the tragedy and a protest against the excessive use of tasers, _NOT_ an anti-police rally. THIS WILL BE A PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION!

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=8636840125

VICTORIA: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski.
Express your outrage and show supprt for his family through a peaceful demonstration

Host: Facebook Group – “Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer [sic] Death”

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
City/Town: Victoria, BC

Description: PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION – come along and express your outrage and your disgust at the recent events resulting in the unlawful killing of Robert Dziekanski. Show Solidarity for the Dziekanski family and demand Justice so that this kind of thing NEVER happens again

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=6187158110

TORONTO: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski Toronto Queen’s Park Protest Nov 24
Protesting Unreasonable Force/Showing Solidarity with Vancouver BC Protest Nov 24

Host: Facebook Group – “Protesting the use of Excessive force on Robert Dziekanski”

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Location: Queen’s Park
Street: University Avenue
City/Town: Toronto, ON

Protest SCHEDULE:

i) Opening Remarks by organizers & circulation of petitions.

ii) Guest Speakers:
Peggy Nash – NDP Member of Parliament for High Park
Borys Wrzesnewskyj – Liberal Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre
Peter Milczyn – City of Toronto Councilor of Etobicoke Lakeshore
Alan Borovoy – General Counsel – Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Wladyslaw Lizon – President – Canadian Polish Congress

iii) Moment of Silence and Candlelight Vigil.

iv) Musical Guests (tbc).

Description: This Protest is designed to continue raising media awareness about the mistreatment of Robert Dziekanski and protest the unreasonable use of force. We want the government to know that Canadians, regardless of their location in Canada are disgusted and heartbroken by the handling of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport. This situation involves issues of race, nationalism, violence and most significantly ethical human behaviour of kindness, patience and compassion.

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6407280731

For those who will be attending the Toronto protest:

Thank you for joining the event and showing your solidarity! The protest will begin tommorrow (Saturday) as scheduled at 12 noon on the south lawn of Queens Park.

Just two quick announcements:

1) At the end of the rally there will be a candlelight vigil, so if you are so inclined, there will be a memorial display where you can leave candles and flowers.

2) This is a very grass-roots movment so we are asking people to please bring their own home-made protest signs. It is very important to make sure tommorows protest remains peaceful, so please be counscious of any slogans that others might find offensive. Below are a few suggestions for slogans:

“Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski” (our offiical slogan)
“Pokoj, Peace”
“Accountability Now”
“Tasers are not Toys”

Thanks again for your solidarity and support!!

Sincerely,
Mike Mlynarczyk
Protest Co-chair.

Please show your support!

Related: CTV News reports that Poland will be watching:

A documentary crew from Poland is in Vancouver pursuing the story behind the death of their countryman Robert Dziekanski.

[…]

“(We’ve come) to show what happened. To tell the story, but at the very same time, to portray the reaction of Canadians themselves,” said Marcin Wojcik with TVN, a national broadcaster in Poland.

In Poland, there is no ill will towards Canada but rather questions about the country’s policing system, said Wojcik.

“Nobody is connecting the story with Canada itself,” he said.

The TVN crew members plan to stay in Canada for the next 10 days and say they’ve been promised co-operation from many of the agencies involved in the incident.

On Saturday, the crew will be filming a rally for Dziekanski on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

More from Godammitkitty and skdadl (h/t and hugs to you both), who reminds us that “[t]he Poles know something about people who show up.”

solidarity-1.jpg

(click image for more on “The strike that changed the world.”)

Also see this rabble interview with Tania Lukasiewicz, one of the organizers of the Vancouver rally:

As a registered psychiatric nurse, I fight for my patients’ everyday, to make sure that their rights are upheld, their needs are met and their wants are considered. I felt that as a citizen of Canada it is really important that I bring this to light. And nobody else had a protest going so I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to start one.’

[…]

The first day the rally group [on Facebook] started, there were 30 people, then 35, but now there are over 430 people. It has been very inspiring to know that people care, and people from all walks of life, Canadians, immigrants, children, young people, old people – everybody. And I think they are coming out in the masses that they are because there are so many things that went wrong.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Friday Blogwhoring

by matttbastard

Happy holidays to our Southerly neighbours, two of whom kindly presented holiday themed posts yesterday. Hope you’re having a halfway-decent BND/Black Friday, y’all. Love and runaway consumerism forever.

(All Hail The Queen.)

Eric Stoller: The 19th Erase Racism Carnival

Designated Protest Zone: The Micro, Meso, And Meta of Robert Dziekanski’s State Execution

OurKingdom: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and coherent disagreement

Afghanistanica: Theorizing Conflict In Afghanistan

unrepentant old hippie: It’s about protecting choice. Really. (h/t fern hill)

Birth Pangs: Another Tedious Poll

Questioning Transphobia: The Goddess

Slap Upside The Head: Alberta Premier Reviews Anti-Gay Candidate

A Creative Revolution: The New Tobacco?

The Gimp Parade: My fat (but actually very normal-sized) legs (Kay Olsen is one of the best writers on teh webz – period.)

Dawg’s Blawg: Slate Magazine’s true colours

Intrapolitics: On William Saletan’s sense of humor

Too Sense: NYPD Says Frisk Policy Is ‘Not Biased’ (h/t Racialicious)

Black Looks: Invading Black women’s spaces: Further attack on Megan Williams (h/t Kevin)

Reclusive Leftist: Thanksgiving, Life and Death, and Anti-feminism

The Angry Black Woman: Irrational Men

Mandolin @ Alas, a Blog: Atheists In Ur Blogosphere, Dominatin’ Ur Discourse

Justice is a Woman with a Sword: Being the Catholic Church is never having to say you’re sorry…

(en)Gender: Remembering We’re Living

Taking Steps: vigilance (h/t Lisa)

William K. Wolfrum: By making America suck, Republican rule ushering in new immigration problem

Suburban Guerrilla: Kennedy Assassination

nexy’s cocoon: thanksgiving

Jon Swift: This Year Let’s Celebrate Thankstaking Instead of Thanksgiving (FTW!)

First Draft: Embarrassment Squick

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers