7 things @ 9 o’clock (9.9)

1. Why thinking that Mister Rogers ever flipped anybody off just because you’ve seen a picture of him holding up his middle finger is just exactly the same kind of dumb as thinking that Romans 1 is some kind of clobber-text against lesbians. (via AZSpot)

2. “If you’re one of those people reading this who is skeptical about the CFPB, I’m here to tell you not to be. That agency really and truly does exist to hold banks and financial institutions accountable for how consumers are treated.” — “Thank you, CFPB!

Oh, and could you please look into this too? “You’d be amazed what is legal in this country.”

3. Here’s a Christianity Today piece arguing that evangelicals ought to adopt the Catholic position opposing IVF and surrogacy, and the Catholic view of marriage more generally. “It may be time to consider that our Catholic brothers and sisters are right on these issues,” Jennifer Lahl writes, giving away the game that her introductory throat-clearing remarks about the need for more “ethical reflection” was an insincere pose. Ethical reflection is not the agenda here — the agenda is getting evangelicals to embrace Humanae Vitae without thinking or reflecting. They are coming for your birth control.

4. Jake Swearingen upends an urban legend about rural America: “The evidence against cow tipping is immense, and backed up by both farmers and the laws of physics.” And, yes, he supplies the physics, complete with diagrams and equations. But I particularly like his invocation of the dog-that-didn’t-bark evidence from YouTube: “YouTube, the largest clearinghouse of human stupidity the world has ever known — where you can watch hours of kids taking the cinnamon challenge, teens jumping off rooftops onto trampolines, or the explosive results of fireworks set off indoors — fails to deliver one single actual cow-tipping video.”

That would seem, as xkcd put it, to settle the matter:

5. This post, similarly but more seriously, demolishes a much more pernicious myth: “Your friends who think torture is effective at getting reliable information are wrong.” (via Jay Lake) Torture always works to do only what it was designed to do: extract false confessions.

6. World Vision, the Christian relief and development agency, is taking another block of bloggers overseas to highlight the Good Things they’re doing. This time the trip is to Guatemala and the roll of bloggers going along is a pretty terrific bunch, including: Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, Matthew Paul Turner, Caleb Wilde, Zack Hunt, Micha Boyett, Shelby Zacharias, Roo Ciambriello, and Jessica Shyra. I respect World Vision a lot because they’re a responsible, efficient and effective relief and development agency. I’m starting to respect them even more, though, for their taste in bloggers.

7.My Name Is Not Robert.” Benjamin Weiser’s report of this tragic clusterfuss by police in two different states reads like a horror story. For Kerry Sanders, it is a horror story:

The inmate’s assertion might well have seemed implausible, given the extensive system of checks and safeguards used in law enforcement to ensure that one person is not mistaken for another. There is a national database of fingerprints and photographs, which are taken when people are arrested; there are lawyers and judges to protect and administer justice; and there are prison staffs with files on the medical, personal and criminal histories of inmates. The United States has had its share of wrongly convicted people, but the idea that a man who had never even been convicted was behind bars seemed inconceivable. That a prison did not know whom it had in custody would mean it had failed the most basic test of its competence and security.

":-( And that's how they win: erosion."

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  • themunck

    I wanted to make a comment about how stories in 2 was downright sickening, and unbecoming of a modern country. Then I read 7.
    Why must the arc of history be so long? :(

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Seriously – this is the kind of thing that absolutely terrifies me. Being white, I know I have a substantially less chance of falling victim to it (which is sad and wrong); but still, just the fact that it can happen to anyone at all in the first place is enough to give me nightmares.

    Doubly so with the NSA spying on internet searches. As a writer, some of the stuff I’ve googled is kinda questionable; but there’s a good reason for it.

  • Daniel

    Again, this is a fairly interesting situation in the post cold war world- false imprisonment was the sort of thing that happened in the grey world of the USSR. This is Kafkaesque except without the humour. It reminded me of sluggishly progressing schizophrenia- not in the objective (to imprison an inconvenient opponent) but in the way everyone was just willing to accept he was mentally ill rather than bother to check his story.


  • AnonaMiss

    Well, he is/was mentally ill – hearing voices, seeing people come at him out of the walls. It wasn’t a matter of a sane man being dismissed as mentally ill for claiming something inconvenient, but of a delusional man who made his truthful claim right alongside some obviously false ones.

    The horror point in my opinion was in booking, etc. – they skipped protocols that would have stopped this in its tracks, for the sake of clerical convenience. That’s just awful.

  • Daniel

    ” It wasn’t a matter of a sane man being dismissed as mentally ill for
    claiming something inconvenient, but of a delusional man who made his
    truthful claim right alongside some obviously false ones.”

    Yes, I wasn’t very clear in that previous comment. I meant that the assumption was because he was mentally ill there was no point checking anything he said, just medicate him and be done with it. The link with the Soviet thing was because a patient would be seen as mentally ill for criticizing the government because they knew it would endanger their lives, so only a suicidal person would do it. Consequently anything they said afterwards would be written off as the witterings of a madman, the illness “getting worse” the more they protested. In this case because he was ill anything he said to let them know the truth would be taken as further evidence of his illness, so he was caught in a nightmarish situation.

    I’m not at my best, too much coffee makes me write far more quickly than I think.

  • Hexep

    And you all have *guns,* that’s the crazy thing. If *we* had guns, it’d be blood, blood from Lujiazui to Zhongshan Park, and that’s just in Shanghai. Why don’t you just storm Wall Street and take the problem in hand by force? You wouldn’t be the first.

  • themunck

    …I’m not an American, Hexep. I’m Danish.

  • aunursa

    #4: What a true believer might say: That doesn’t prove anything. Just because there aren’t any videos documenting cow-tipping doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in the decades before cell phone cameras became prevalent.
    Or alternately: Actually I have seen cow-tipping video, but YouTube removed it because (a) they’re part of the conspiracy / (b) government pressure.

  • Lori

    The idea that cow tipping happened before video even though it doesn’t happen any more would seem to require that cows be in some pertinent way different now than they were before about 2000. That’s not the case.

    Of course, that’s logic and true believers tend to be by their nature impervious to logic.

  • Daniel

    Cows born today, thanks to the Illuminati/Freemason’s combined agricultural policy, have been specifically engineered to have more fat on their flanks than prior to 2000. The Millienium Bug was a smokescreen operation by the US government, and the British Royal Family, to distract attention while cows were removed from fields world wide, sent to FEMA concentration camps and processed into meat that the lizard rulers of earth need for their feasts in Zurich. Once those cows were gone new ones (with more fat) were put in their places. The reason? So all people in the west would become hugely obese, allowing Socialist health care and consequently mind control devices to be put in place, so the moon computer gangster Communist god can control us remotely. The unintended side effect was that cows now bounce back onto their feet after being tipped. The POWERS THAT BE never saw that coming, but the absence of video evidence is proof, if proof be need be, that all the cows are tools of the forces of Seth and that the government is after your meat.

  • Vermic

    Seth? Right pantheon, wrong god. It is well known that cow tipping is an ancient pagan ritual devoted to the goddess Hathor, she who was cured of her bloodthirsty rage after drinking a lake of beer. And from that day to this, the faithful have memorialized this event by going into pastures, imbibing beer, and pushing over cows in a reenactment of Hathor’s drunken slumber.

    During these rites, the Hathorites frequently cross paths with Satanists en route to their cattle-mutilation rituals. Sometimes these encounters end in a good old-fashioned gang rumble; other times, in a good old-fashioned orgy. You can never tell, which is what makes it so much fun.

  • Daniel

    ESPECIALLY when the alien cattle mutilators get there. Then it goes a bit XXX Files.

    I believe that contrary to all the bad press they get, Satanist gang rumbles look a bit like this:


  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    You probably already know this IRL, but it was Sekhmet who had the bloodthirsty rage and had to be tempted away from it with a river of beer.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Technically, it was Hathor in her aspect as Sekhmet (“aspect of Sekhmet”?).

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I thought Sekhmet was an aspect of Bast?

    Egyptian gods are so complicated…

  • themunck

    But what about the Vatican and the chaps down in the City? If we aren’t sure how they’re involved…then they must have gotten too good at hiding their involvement, even from us!

  • Daniel

    Basic numerology. Assign each letter a numerical value, and “Vatican” = 22 + 1 + 20 + 9 + 3 + 1 + 14. “City” = 3 + 9 + 20 + 25
    So VATICAN is 3 groups of 23 and one. The one doesn’t matter. CITY is 23 + 34, 34-1 (it matters again now) = 33. VATICAN= 70,(the number of Cardinals in the College- coincidence?) 70 divided by 7 (the number of letters in Vatican)= 10.

    33-10= 23

    So what do we have? 5X23. What does that equal? 115.

    “115 of the 117 Cardinals under the age of 80 at the time of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation participated in the conclave to elect his successor.”

    Not my words. The words of Wikipedia.
    What does the Pope issue?



  • Green Eggs and Ham

    I regret that I can only upvote you once.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Just you wait, Daniel.
    Another week and that’ll get cribbed word-for-word onto some Conspiracy Website as PROOF! PROOF! PROOF!
    Double points if it’s a CHRISTIAN(TM) Conspiracy Website. PROOF(TM) of Pope-as-Antichrist has been a cottage industry since Luther.

  • Daniel

    Well, I’ve just realised reading that back that you never hear of pig tipping. Which shadowy secret cabal that run the world’s banks won’t touch pigs?

    This is Foucault’s pendulum all over again…

  • aine

    I have always maintained to my suburban classmates, as the only one of us who had ever seen a cow up close, that cow tipping is and always has been a thing to dare one’s urban cousins to do when they visit.
    “Sure, that’s what we do in the evenings. I’ll tell you how and you go first. No, I’ll just hang out over here on this side of the fence, I’m sure you’ll do just fine…”

  • Lori

    Yeah, cow-tipping is like snipe hunting—-a sort of mean trick to play on the city folk.

  • Daniel

    When I went to university I convinced a friend of mine that cow tipping was a thing. Up to that point I had lived my entire life in Manchester, and she had grown up in the middle of the Somerset countryside- with a friend who lived on a farm raising cattle. Incidentally it was in the same village John Locke was from. But anyway, I convinced her it was real, and she just assumed people up north were much meaner to their livestock than down south. Which is perhaps true- Greggs Sausage Rolls are a northern invention.

  • Jim Roberts

    I went to college in rural western New York, and we used “cow tipping” to refer to going out into the woods to get up to shenanigans of some kind.

  • aim2misbehave

    Yeah, I grew up in about the same area. Actually tipping over cows was something that we occasionally idly discussed, but that we never actually tried. (For one thing, who wants to go walking around in a pasture full of cow patties at night?)

    But usually when someone said “Hey, let’s go cow tipping or something!” what would happen was us running around goofing off on the back of someone’s farm in the dark, plotting mischief that never came to fruition, and in general convincing ourselves that we were doing something sneaky and against the rules because we were out unsupervised so late at night.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’ve heard people who actually try this find out that cows are hardly docile herbivores.

  • Lori

    My experience with cows isn’t terribly extensive, but unless you actually hurt the cow I think most of them aren’t overly likely to hurt you on purpose. The thing is, a cow can weigh like 1500 pounds. Something that big can hurt you pretty easily without trying.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. It’s not like they’re *mean* per se(@), but a 1500 pound cow can make its displeasure with being pushed known.

    (@) It is not “per say”, people.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Or catching birds by putting salt on their tail feathers.

    If you do that, they can’t fly away!!/
    sez evil grandparents

  • Jamoche

    I grew up in a Ft Worth suburb that was close enough to being rural that I knew kids who worked on farms, and I’ve just realized that the only time I’ve heard of cow tipping was in fiction, back in the days when YA meant “in the style of Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew”.

    So all those “write by numbers” authors – the ones who didn’t really seem to know any real teenagers – got epically trolled by someone.

  • Carstonio

    And the legend probably got passed along by other urban dwellers who didn’t know the context. Similar to the urban legends about Pop Rocks and Bubble Yum, where adults most likely didn’t grasp that the kids passing along the tales were trying to impress their friends. Snipe-hunting by contrast was a form of hazing.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Try getting the city folk to milk a bull.

  • Michael Pullmann

    The Kerry Sanders piece appears to be from 2000. Has there been any sort of update on whether or not he got any kind of justice, or NYS admitted any sort of guilt?

  • Michael Pullmann

    Answering my own question, Google sez he got a $3.25 million settlement and an apology in 2001.

  • J_

    Glad you like World Vision, Fred. I do not. Because they take my tax money but refuse to hire non-Christians. When questioned about this, this spent more of my tax money and went to court to win the right to keep on taking it but refusing to hire me or anyone like me.

    So fuck World Vision. And fuck you.

  • Daniel

    What was the reason they gave for not hiring Christians? How is that not against anti-discrimination laws?

  • AnonaMiss


    They’re only prohibited from discriminating in who provide services to, not in who they hire. /eyeroll

  • Daniel

    Just read their website section on hiring practices:

    “To be clear, we hire Christians, imperfect and flawed, not because we think they are superior, but because we believe that any real success will come only through the presence of Christ in each employee’s heart and His power through prayer in each staff member’s mind and hands.”

    Right. But they don’t think Christians are superior, just that they are the only ones who can produce any “real success”.

    “World Vision is a signatory to the Red Cross Code of Conduct and does not proselytize. That is, we never require aid recipients to listen to a religious message as a condition of our help, nor do we use aid as an inducement for recipients to change religion. We also never discriminate on the basis of religion in giving aid; we serve every child in need that we possibly can, of any faith or none.”

    Which I think kind of contradicts their earlier example of how an animal rights group wouldn’t hire a hunter or non-vegetarian or an environmental charity wouldn’t hire a global warming sceptic. The jobs of those charities are, usually, to advocate loudly for the things they believe in. If you’re a Christian organisation that keeps quiet about it and refuses to proselytize why would it be a problem to hire people that do not believe in Christ?


  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    M-O-O-N, that still spells discriminatory hiring practices to me.

  • Bob

    On the UK version of their website:

    Do I have to be a Christian to work at World Vision?

    It depends on the particular role that you’re interested
    in. Our mission and core values here at World Vision compel us to apply a
    Christian approach to our work. Many positions therefore have a legal
    ‘occupational requirement’ that the post-holder must be a Christian.
    Each position is assessed individually to determine whether there is an
    ‘occupational requirement’ for a Christian faith.

    We are, however, a very broad church and as long as applicants for
    these positions are practicing Christians and will bring a Christian
    heart and mind to the role it doesn’t matter what creed or church
    tradition they are part of.

    If there is no ‘occupational requirement’ to appoint a Christian,
    questions about faith and church connections will not be asked at
    interview. We will, of course, ask questions designed to ensure that
    applicants would be able to work with our values and fit well with our

  • Oswald Carnes

    How do they tell if someone’s a Christian or not? Sure it would be easy to tell if someone who had never had any exposure to any branch of Christianity couldn’t answer some basic questions, but how many people would that be in the areas they hire in? I once had a (very short-lived) job in food service at Jim and Tammy Faye’s place, which also did not hire non-Christians, but I knew when to say “Jesus” and “bible” in the right places so my non-belief wasn’t a problem.

  • Daniel

    “How do they tell if someone’s a Christian or not?”
    Throw Holy Water on you and check what colour your skin turns. Red- like the Blood of Christ, Blue- Heathen.

  • themunck

    If you’re getting blue bruises by someone throwing water at you, you’re -really- gonna need the job, though :/

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think you’ve got “Christianity” and “Acidity” backwards

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I suppose the rule could be “We’re a church-based charity, so we only hire through churches. Therefore Christian = member of a Christian church.”

    Which would be… almost understandable, but doesn’t seem to actually be the case…

  • guest

    I applied a while back to a humanitarian organisation (not World Vision) with the same kind of ‘Christian’ hiring practice; in addition to asking you in the written application to describe your faith and what motivated you to apply for the position they asked what church you went to and sought a reference from a pastor or spiritual leader.

  • AnonaMiss

    Also here’s the court decision


  • chgo_liz

    Your ire against World Vision seems to have a justifiable basis. Your ire against Fred, not so much.

  • Lori

    Because saying “fuck you” to Fred over this isn’t an overreaction at all. Perspective is so over-rated and if Fred likes one or two things about the organization he’s clearly endorsing every single thing that they do.

    Note: Sectarian organizations with discriminatory policies shouldn’t be getting tax money. World Vision is hardly the only one that does (thank you, Office of Faith-Based Initiatives) and unlike some of the others, they actually seem to do a good job providing the services for which they’re receiving those tax dollars.

  • Guest

    Is it really necessary to say fuck you to Fred because of something World Vision’s doing that he might be unaware of, and certainly isn’t responsible for? I always thought World Vision was a fairly inclusive charity; it’s a shame that they won’t hire non-Christians.

  • drkrick

    It demonstrates the commenter’s moral superiority over both World Vision and Fred. Or not.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    J is an eliminationist who wishes he could murder everyone who doesn’t believe exactly what he does.

    Basically, he’s as big a hard-right authoritartian fundamentalist as all but the hardest-right authoritarian christians.

  • P J Evans

    have you read any of Fred’s posts on those bloggers?

  • Baby_Raptor

    I went cow tipping once. We ended up just petting the cows.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy


  • J_Enigma32

    Gotta love those doctors willing to put their own religious views above the health of their patient. If they’re doing this in NZ, imagine what they’re doing here?

    I fear for the medical future for this country. If it isn’t insurance trying to kill us, it’s our own damn health providers.

  • Victor

    (((The United States has had its share of wrongly convicted people, but the idea that a man who had never even been convicted was behind bars seemed inconceivable. That a prison did not know whom it had in custody would mean it had failed the most basic test of its competence and security.)))

    Come on Fred! “IT” is starting to look like, with all these clicks that you really are too smart for your own good! “IT” is great that you must separate before YA con her, “I” mean conquer but listen NOW! We gods are having way too much trouble controlling Victor’s little retardo of is so called four per cent, mother, father, son and holy spirit. What is really bad is the more time he spends here, the crazi her, “I” mean crazier U>S (usual sinning) “I” mean 96% godly flesh become and to top “IT” all Victor had a dream last night.

    I kid YA not Fred! Victor had a dream and/or should “I” say that after Victor indirectly apologized http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/09/08/my-chicago-declaration-story/ we gods started to feel sorry for those four per sent age cells of his and long story short, we 96% gods of our kingdom all got to get her, “I” mean together and longer story short, Sinderella’s sisters, the LOT of them literally blue Victor’s peter’s atheist brain cells. Most atheist would have agreed that “IT” was a dream made in heaven and if YA don’t believe me, just ask all those seeds that flew out of the win dough, “I” mean window NOW!!!!!!

    Fred “I” better stop soon because some of Victor’s 4% virgin hers, “I” mean here, no, no “I” mean ears brain cells might just hear us and get UP SET and we can’t have that if YA know what “I” mean NOW?

    Listen Folks, “I” mean Fred, “IT” is not funny any long her, “I” mean longer and if YA keep allowing Victor to write here, people might start http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh1dkrkSTjM and then these pup pets, “I” mean humans might start believing that GOD (Good Old Dad) really did create Angels before HE created “MAN” in his own image and some have really been cast down here and having sex with their wo man, “I” mean woman NOW? Worst of all, Christians might start believing that they really are fish her man “I” mean fisher of people and then where would your agenda and all the work that we gods have put in be when “IT” comes to what “ME”, “ME” and “ME” believe is really http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umJj5i0xU0Q “I” ask YA! Where would our twenty first century place of our new “Families” bee NOW?

    Fred!!!! Victor is still crying to this imaginary GOD and some angels cells have told us gods that HE’s thinking of waking UP this Atom, “I” mean Adam bomb and if YA don’t believe me just ask a priest that Victor and his wife visit now and then near his camp retreat who goes by the name of Father Mac Million, “I” think and…

    END YA SAY sinner vic?


    Go Figure people? :)



  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    4.In my hometown of North Platte, Nebraska I’ve heard several people claim to have personally gone cow tipping. Then again, I also heard it reported as fact that there were satanic infant sacrifices going down in the woods behind the only tall hill in the region. And I have never personally observed cow tipping myself. I wouldn’t go so far as say that no one has ever done such a thing in the history of agriculture, but you’d think there’d be more Beavis & Butthead style accidents if it were common.

    1. I’ve never been bothered by the picture of Fred Rodgers ‘giving’ the middle finger. I’m sure he did it in earnest at least once in his life and that’s fine. In as much as he can be called a modern secular saint there are old school church ones who did far worse.

  • Jamoche

    Even in a 100×100 pixel gif, I could see enough of Fred Rogers’ body language to know that he wasn’t flipping anyone off. The obvious age of the video is also a clue. Sure, it triggers a double take (or maybe even a Patrick Stewart quadrupal-take http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFMrBldVk0s ) but a reaction of “disgusted” and “crushed” seems kind of odd.

  • FearlessSon

    In as much as he can be called a modern secular saint there are old school church ones who did far worse.

    Incidentally, Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister. He never mentioned it on the show though, because he felt that the lessons he wanted to teach children should not be limited by small distinctions of faith. He lived the way he though he ought to, and felt no need to make a big deal about it.

    In that sense, he was a very genuine secularist.

  • Lori

    You’re from North Platte? Cool.

    For those unfamiliar with the history of North Platte, Nebraska:


  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Oh yeah, the kids growing up there hear all about Buffalo Bill and the canteen! It was a great thing that the locals did certainly. The sad story is that the Union Pacific RR let that depot go to seed after passenger rail declined and it was torn down for a fire trap when I was just a baby.
    The downtown has gradually hollowed out as business has moved toward the interstate/Wal-Mart parking lot. Same sad story as any number of places. The border between mountain/central time is still determined by North Platte’s importance as a railroad junction.

  • Lori

    I’m sorry to hear how things have gone. That story is way too common.

  • FearlessSon

    4. To be fair, there were a such thing as flying saucers, but the project was unworkable and eventually cancelled in the early sixties.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    where you can watch hours of kids taking the cinnamon challenge, teens jumping off rooftops onto trampolines, or the explosive results of fireworks set off indoors — fails to deliver one single actual cow-tipping video.

    I’ve even seen videos of teenagers trying to stick the end of a bottle rocket in their ass and flailing around when the rocket fires and fails to dislodge itself. (-_-) Thank whatever is out there I was never that incredibly dumb. And I did a few dumb things when I was that age.

    On torture.

    You know, I distinctly seem to recall a couple of regimes that were condemned for the wanton use of torture to “extract information about enemies”.

    And I distinctly seem to recall that the USA stood in opposition to them in part by distinguishing its non-use of torture and insisting that fundamental freedoms did not depend on using it to get confessions.

    But hey, if the US wants to be like the Nazis and the Soviets, be my guest.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    I’d really rather we didn’t to be honest. >.<

  • Guest

    Fred — and all you other heroes of “the struggle” for women to “gain access” to birth control — it seems you haven’t noticed something that ALL the rest of us know, that condoms are available, cheaply, at every pharmacy, convenience store, and gas station everywhere in the United States. So … shut up!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *sigh* I seem to be doing this a lot lately:

    There is no palm that can encompass the magnitude of my facepalm.

    Do you really think your unproven anecdote is some kind of magic bullet argument against Fred’s comment?

    1. Not all men use condoms. Some of them even whine and moan that “it doesn’t give me any feeling“, like that’s a valid reason to risk STD transmission and/or a pregnancy so their precious dick feels great when they fuck. Such concern for the receiving party, be they a woman or a man.
    2. Not all condoms are available everywhere. In some cases self-appointed moral warriors will put the condoms in the pharmacy department and make it very clear through unofficial store policy that if you want condoms you’d better be the “right sort”.
    3. The fact that condoms are not always anonymously available is another roadblock. You underestimate how people will shy away from purchasing condoms, even using self-checkouts, because they have to do so in public.

    In short, sit down, be quiet, the adults are talking here.

  • FearlessSon

    1. Not all men use condoms. Some of them even bitch and moan that “it doesn’t give me any feeling“, like that’s a valid reason to risk STD transmission and/or a pregnancy so their precious dick feels great when they fuck. Such concern for the receiving party, be they a woman or a man.

    My girlfriend thinks that might be a generational thing in particular. She says that a lot of men her age were often more hesitant to use them, while men my age tend to treat their use as a given unless negotiated otherwise. It could be that sex ed has changed in that time (the 80s versus the 90s.)

  • Victor

    (((In short, sit down, be quiet, the adults are talking here.)))

    Invisible Newtrino! Being an old man of 68 years, me, myself and i we’re not an adult because back then, the age of an adult was twenty-one and long story short, most of my body cells agreed with “IT” and……

    AND GIVE “IT” UP VICTOR!!! You’re just UP SET with U>S (usual sinning) gods cause we wouldn’t let YA raise your family as live stock, the way your father raise his family. Come on Victor, “hey let” “IT” be cause your father was nothing but a beast and the doctors back then even tell YA so.

    Victor! Victor! Victor! We gods had to bring the age limit down because, the angels told us so and not lost souls which you claim exist but what can we gods expect from a “MAN” who is only really 67 butt insist on counting the unborn, “I” mean the nine months that his mother carried him and….

    END YA SAY sinner vic


    Go figure folks! :)


  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I’d like to add another number to your list:

    4. Condoms do not represent “women’s access to birth control.” Condoms are men’s access to birth control. When I envision “control over my own reproductive system,” I do not, oddly enough, envision myself asking my male sexual partner to pretty please wear this thing if he would be so kind. I envision myself taking control of my reproductive system. But perhaps Guest thinks that women shouldn’t be able to control their own reproductive systems, except by not allowing penises into them. Maybe Guest thinks that if we won’t just close our slutty legs, we deserve to be completely to be at the mercy of the men we’re slutting around with.

  • Daniel

    “I envision myself taking control of my reproductive system.”

    Ah, that’s what’s wrong you see. It’s not your reproductive system, it belongs to your husband whether or not he actually exists. Really you’re just keeping it safe for him until he’s ready to use it, and it’s his decision when and how it should be used. If you find a man reckless enough to have sex without wanting babies then you’ve just got to hope for the best as regards condoms. Obviously the best is that he won’t use one and you get pregnant and married, and then pregnant again as soon as possible- repeat ad morning nauseum.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Of course, since the pill is also usefull — perhaps even most useful to monogamous married heterosexual couples, making it harder to get is going to be a burden on those femmes couvert as well.

    In fact, one might suspect that all that stuff about sluts and women controlling their own bodies is just empty moralizing, and the practical motivation is that they want poor married couples to have more children than they can afford, to keep the price of labor down.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Are you saying that in your part of the world you can’t just walk into any fast food place and buy condoms from the vending machine in the toilet? (In many places, the same machine also sells sweets, so no one knows what you’re buying.)


  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Not every place has such machines and in my experience, the ones that do tend to be ‘seedier’; the machines are dedicated sex-and-genital-hygiene dispensers and are usually stuck in the bathroom proper. So you can dial one out, sure, but that usually also means going to some clapped-out rubbish place and there’s no obvious exterior indication that the place has a bathroom with such an accessory.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    All Thornton’s gas stations have clean bathrooms with condom dispensers.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Good advice, although they don’t operate in Canada to my knowledge.

  • Daniel

    In Britain Thornton’s just sell chocolate.

  • FearlessSon

    Plus, getting them one-by-one from such machines is cost-ineffective. Better to buy a box of them from a drug store.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That may be seen as a form of tempting fate.

    (Seriously, I have bought a box of condoms from a drug store exactly one time in my life. Two weeks later, the relationship ended.)

    (This story has a happy ending, but it takes like five years to get there)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Condoms are not adequate by themselves, and the existence of one method does not invalidate the concern of others being taken away. Contraception used to be illegal in the United States — and there are people still alive who were there when that was the case.

  • FearlessSon

    Fred — and all you other heroes of “the struggle” for women to “gain access” to birth control — it seems you haven’t noticed something that ALL the rest of us know, that condoms are available, cheaply, at every pharmacy, convenience store, and gas station everywhere in the United States. So … shut up!

    True, condoms are commonly and cheaply available. I agree with that assertion of fact. However, my concern in this case is not so much about their availability but the acceptance of their use.

    Take things like abstinence-only education. By itself, it does not directly prohibit birth control. But what it does do is undermine people’s knowledge of birth control methods and effectiveness, and therefor their ability to make informed decisions regarding using that birth control. How many sex-ed classes under abstinence-only curriculum lied to students about condom failure rates? How many said that hormonal birth control was linked to infertility? How many claimed that abortion causes cancer?

    I have no doubt that birth control will remain available as long as there is a population who understands it well. But if that population’s understanding is compromised, it becomes much easier for charlatans to convince them to restrict it.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    You also ignore, in addition to the comments below, the fact leaving contraception in the hands of abusive men is an invitation to more abuse and pregnancy coercion.

  • FearlessSon

    Yeah, that is another thing. I want every woman to have absolute control over whether she can accept pregnancy or not. I want every man to have absolute control over whether he can impregnate or not. I want to ensure that no partner can ever be a party to a pregnancy without the explicit consent and cooperation of the other. Ever.

    And no, “put an aspirin between your legs” is not an effective method of birth control. It is true that abstinence is the most absolutely effective method of birth control, but only when it does not fail, and humans being humans, it fails quite a lot.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Condoms are not adequate for several reasons.

    1. Condoms have a typical-use failure rate of 15% and a perfect-use failure rate of 2%. Now factor in that most people, especially kids, aren’t taught “perfect use”. Compare that to the failure rate of the pill (8% / 0.3%), and the copper IUD (0.8% / 0.6%). (More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_birth_control_methods )

    2. Some people have latex allergies, and non-latex condoms are not only a lot more expensive, but not very widely available.

    3. A partner may refuse to wear a condom, or even poke holes in one ( http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/men-sabotaging-women-birth-control-article-1.1361932 ) (You can also see from that article that the pill might not be adequate either — this is why women need access to as wide a variety of safe contraceptives as possible.)

    4. Rapists aren’t likely to use condoms.

    So… shut up!

  • AnonaMiss

    There are many reasons to take hormonal birth control other than for contraception. They range from a matter of convenience to a matter of life and death, and for some of them, hormonal birth control is the only treatment for them other than surgery to remove the reproductive organs.

    The ability to access hormonal birth control is literally a matter of life and death for some women. “So … shut up!”

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Right, I’d forgotten about the usage of HBC for endometriosis and suchlike. Let’s make that Reason #5.

  • Oswald Carnes

    Lick my love pump.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    It’s like a Mach piece, really….

  • Daniel

    Everyone has to stop up voting this comment when it reaches 11

  • dpolicar

    Nope, we’ve noticed that perfectly well, thanks. Cheap and easily available condoms are a fine thing, they simply aren’t sufficient.

    Incidentally, their availability is thanks to past advocates of contraceptive access, and the folks in earlier generations who fought to silence those advocates (as you attempt here) opposed that availability actively. (Many still do.)

    That aside, commenting anonymously on someone else’s blog to tell them to shut up is poor form.

  • Katie

    The people who are against contraception? They’re also against condoms. I will bet you any amount of money that within 5 years, someone will propose a law that specifically limits access to condoms.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Sucker’s bet. One of our last presidential candidates wanted to ban it altogether — and he’ll more than likely be the top nominee in 2016.

  • Daniel

    Showing my obvious prejudices here, maybe I’m too cynical, but how likely is it that the people who propose the limitation of access to condoms will not be affected by that law? I’m thinking “very likely”.

  • Katie

    Of course they won’t be affected. The well off, and well connected will be able to find a doctor who will provide them with the needed reproductive health services, even if it means traveling abroad to do so.

  • David S.

    Good. If the Republican candidate is openly against all contraception, the Democratic candidate is a shoe-in.

  • Katie

    Of course its a sucker’s bet. I offered it because I’m a)cynical and b) could use the money.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    However much money you have, I’m willing to bet I have less. :p

    (Now that’s a sucker’s bet. I quite literally don’t have anything to lose.)

  • Katie

    This month, I wouldn’t bet on that >_< I always feel weird about griping about my money problems, since my long term financial outlook is excellent, and even the medium term is pretty good. Its just the short term that is pretty dire.

  • Guest

    I just love how four little lines of print brings out the hysterical and the irrational — several dozen of you! It gives me infinite pleasure to watch idiots run around like chickens without heads. Haha! I’m loving it! BTW condoms are so easily available because of a little thing called the “Free Market.” You older commies may have heard of it. And any woman who’d sleep with a man who “whines” about using a condom is a damned fool, as we all really know if we were honest. Now, I’m going to go back to read some Christian blogs, you cultural Marxists have provided me with quite enough entertainment for one day. ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!

  • Diona the Lurker

    How very Christian you are…

  • Lori

    Wow, Jesus must be extra proud of you.

  • FearlessSon

    I just love how four little lines of print brings out the hysterical and the irrational — several dozen of you!

    Made a comment that pisses people off.

    It gives me infinite pleasure to watch idiots run around like chickens without heads. Haha! I’m loving it!

    Admitted to joy in seeing the rage.

    BTW condoms are so easily available because of a little thing called the “Free Market.” You older commies may have heard of it.

    Takes parting shots to encourage more comments.

    I am calling troll.

  • Daniel

    It gives me infinite pleasure to watch idiots run around like chickens without heads. Haha! I’m loving it!

    I’d say troll, or shittest super villain ever.

  • Daniel

    Oh how you skewered us all! Now you’ve revealed the joke I’m so incredibly red faced! Look at how irrationally people responded to you too- they gave you lists of well thought out and coherent arguments against your stated position in an attempt to prove you wrong! They must have been frothing at the mouth, so angry they type like a frog trying to manoeuvre a shoe across a keyboard! Yes you certainly got them.
    Kudos, I’m still wiping the tears of hilarity away myself.

    Incidentally “several dozen” means more than 24. That’s not what happened. Oh, and condoms were available in communist countries. And in the UK condoms are given away free by the NHS- so nothing whatsoever to do with the free market. But I’m sure you knew that.

  • dpolicar

    Incidentally, I’m curious about your thoughts regarding differences/similarities between our tragic Guest and our earlier troll, if you have any you’d like to share.

  • Daniel

    I’m still a troll novice, not yet Peer Gynt, still a goat, so my judgement is based on their closest real life equivalents. If the psychology of pub bores can be applied, then I think Guest is one of those types who prates on for a while about something fairly bland then makes one very ill thought out comment he expects no one will be rude enough to call him on. When they do he won’t admit he just said something without thinking, or acknowledge someone else may know more about the subject than him, but instead tries to save face by pretending it was meant as a wind-up all along AND IT WORKED BRILLIANTLY!

    As for Verna, I agree with you- she was ostensibly trying to “save souls” by pissing everyone off without any actual attempt to follow through and explain her position. So just run of the mill attention seeking. Questions were met with silence or pat single sentence answers that explained nothing, all the while she hid behind the mask of a desire to save.

    Incidentally “Cheap and easily available condoms are a fine thing, they simply aren’t sufficient.” Mazel tov!
    Although it’s coming to something when I can’t even go on a Christian blog without being reminded that everyone’s having more sex than me.

  • dpolicar

    (chuckle) Well, if it helps, I don’t think I’ve bought or used a condom in, I dunno, fifteen years or so.

  • FearlessSon

    I think Guest is one of those types who prates on for a while about something fairly bland then makes one very ill thought out comment he expects no one will be rude enough to call him on. When they do he won’t admit he just said something without thinking, or acknowledge someone else may know more about the subject than him, but instead tries to save face by pretending it was meant as a wind-up all along AND IT WORKED BRILLIANTLY!

    Sounds like the original trollface.


  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Some doctors will even set out little condom bowls and discreetly leave the office after wrapping up their session so you can take a moment to swipe some before you leave the room and settle up with the receptionist (or, in Canada, just leave).

  • Daniel

    “swipe some before you leave the room and settle up with the receptionist”
    So there are some perks to non-nationalised health care.

    I am lowering the tone again. Sorry.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Erm, I’m Canadian. And the bowls are in doctor’s offices I’ve been in.

  • dpolicar

    You know, I do sympathize for whatever it is you’re going through, but the way you’re choosing to deal with it really isn’t appropriate.

    Is there an adult in your life you can talk to about your feelings of frustration and the events that engender it? Or perhaps a therapist or counselor? (You mention reading Christian blogs; Christian priests can often serve in this role.)

  • AnonaMiss

    What the fuck is a ‘cultural Marxist’? Is it related to musical Keynesianism?

  • Carstonio

    Maybe t’s about Che shirts as fashion symbols.

  • Daniel

    Cultural Marxism is a broad label for any cultural thing that has an enormous beard. Leninpressionism was a notable nineteenth century Marxist art movement, Stalinterpretative Dance was a much later manifestation. Pol Pottery is another, more tangible, form and on the pseudoscience end of the spectrum you get Castrology- predictions of the future based on a misreading of several (but exclusively red) stars. Maodern Art seems to alienate a lot of people, but not as much as the Kronstadt sailors dancing the Prouhonpipe. Then there’s Ho Chi Mime, but it’s probably best not to speak about it.

  • phantomreader42

    Probably just one of those strange word combinations that a certain group has convinced themselves has some meaning when in fact it does not. Like the Timecube guy babbling about people being “educated stupid”.

  • Lee B.

    It *could* be referring to Adorno and the other jagoffs of the Frankfurt School, but nobody here is using negative dialectics so I think phantomreader’s interpretation is correct.

  • Daniel

    “It gives me infinite pleasure to watch idiots run around like chickens without heads.”

    Wait till you try sex. That’s gonna blow your mind.

  • islandbrewer

    Sex requires a consenting partner, so it may be a while for Guest.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    He doesn’t have enough in his mind to blow his nose.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Notice how buddy here doesn’t actually address any of the points we raised?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    But it took only a single sentence from Fred to bring you here in a panic, desperate to bully and berate.

  • pharoute

    The Catholic Church is playing the long con. In ten years Evangelicals will have always been big Mary fanatics.

  • Hexep

    Establishing the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Organization was just about the only smart thing we did in the 50s. The rules are simple – if you’re Chinese, and you want to be a priest, you either renounce the Pope and accept your excommunication, or you get re-educated through labor, rinse, repeat. The State ordains bishops here.

  • David S.

    So it was a smart thing to force people to deny their religious convictions? There are many legitimate beefs with the Catholic Church, but not as many as I have with the Chinese state.

  • Hexep

    No consequences have to date presented themselves, and it’s 50 years on, so, I guess.

    Is it moral? I think so, in this case, but this is a question above my pay-grade.

  • train_star

    How do you know there have been no consequences?

  • David S.

    No consequences? In saying that, you’re dismissing the horrible consequences to people who just wanted to hold their beliefs. We can talk about other consequences, ranging from having offended Catholics and other Christians that control most of the world’s most powerful nations, to the danger of centralizing power and the value of having a organization large enough to critique the government’s behavior with some degree of impunity, both of which have shown up in Chinese history, but the first is moderately important.

    Is it moral? Is it moral for a government to use forced “re-education” against believers of a certain religion? If you start from any moral foundations that gives people rights, that’s a pretty clear no. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 100% against it.

    There have been many Church-State entanglements over the centuries but it’s hard to imagine one more ugly then a state opposed to religion taking upon itself the power to appoint bishops in that religion.

  • Hexep

    If your religious beliefs extend past the field of metaphysics and ethics, and encompass not only political practice but also relationships to existing political entities across national boundaries, extending upward to the pinnacle where the supreme governor of your religion is a foreign sovereign, then no, I think the state has a bona-fide qualification to put limitations on this.

    Legitimate religion concerns itself with the world-beyond-sight, how to treat fellow brethren of the human race, and how to regard one’s own person. Mandatory statements of obedience to high pontiffs and sacral brahma-kings are the mark of illegitimacy.

  • David S.

    You would demand that the One Ring and Nenya be on the same hand. “In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!”

    The state may not like that someone else is the Ring-bearer, but any legitimate government knows that it may not simply seize all forms of power, that it may not simply compel all loyalty to be to the state.

  • Hexep

    I don’t know what this is a reference to, I don’t read fiction. And it is not that the state seizes all power, it seizes all state power; it is not that all loyalty is to the state, it is that all loyalty to states, within our state, must be to our state.

    It is not that we say, ‘you must be a Buddhist, or a Christian, or Shenjiao;’ it is not that we say, ‘you must believe in the one God, or the many Gods, or no Gods;’ it is that we say, ‘you may take no king but us.’

    Do you really feel much sympathy for one tyrant defeated by another?

  • David S.

    Only China claims the power demanded by the Catholic Church is state power.

    No, I do not believe that any state has the right to demand that all loyalty to states must be to our state. I believe that the state has the right to regulate non-expressive action only. I believe in Texas v. Johnson, where the Supreme Court of the US proclaimed that states could not prohibit burning the flag to make a point. The US does not have the right to arrest a Marxist-Leninist who believes that the US should become part of a restored Soviet Union, so long as he’s a law-abiding citizen.

    If you see it as sympathy for one tyrant defeated by another, I think you miss the point. China did not bomb the Vatican; they imprisoned Chinese citizens who merely followed the Catholic religion. When tyrants war, it’s the little people who get hurt.

  • Hexep

    Well, we are all alike under the cruel will of Heaven. 天下的生活都遗憾。

  • Guest

    Yeah…this is really, really horrifying.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    The State ordains bishops here.

    The formal name for that is “Gallicanism” (literally “Like France”, because the kings of France were always trying to get the Church under the thumb of the Crown. When they couldn’t kidnap the Pope to Avingnon, they were trying to split off the French part of the Church. So it’s nothing new.)

  • Hexep

    As anyone who plays Crusader Kings 2 knows, Free Investiture is always better in the long run.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh look, Zimmerman waved a gun around again.

    LAKE MARY, Fla. – George Zimmerman’s estranged wife called police
    officers to her father’s house in Florida on Monday, saying the former
    neighbourhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of murder threatened her
    with a gun.

    Golden boy didn’t get arrested, no charges laid yet either.

    I guess he figures now that he’s been acquitted he can threaten anyone he wants and can get away with it because he’s the darling of the right-wing gun-as-expression-of-manliness movement.

    EDIT: He was also caught speeding. It seems he’s no stranger to the notion that he’s above the law, if this wasn’t his first moving violation.

  • FearlessSon

    I do not know how things are done in Florida, but in Washington state threatening someone with a gun is considered criminal blandishment, except is cases of self defense (“Stand down and step away or I shoot,”) and can get you at least fined for doing so.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Golden Boy DID get arrested, but case unraveled the next day. Estranged wife recanted. Now it’s a He-Said-She-Said situation.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Not surprised. DV cases often involve the man convincing his wife/girlfriend to “voluntarily” refuse to press charges.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    This… Does not seem to be the thing you sound like you’re implying. She switched her story to “Well no, technically I didn’t see the gun, but I swear he had it, for reals.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Are you denying that Zimmerman threatened two people with a gun and one of the two people happens to be his wife in the process of a divorce? This practically screams textbook bullying husband case where the spouse being bullied is trying to avoid what she thinks could be untoward repercussions from the angry bully-spouse. (If she proceeds with charges)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m not denying anything except that it’s your “textbook example”. I’m saying it does not sound like she’s recanting her story out of fear of her bullying spouse. It sounds to me like it’s an ugly divorce, and she threw out “he waved a gun at me” hoping it would stick independent of whether or not he actually did.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There IS another witness. What’s her dad had to say about it all?

  • Carstonio

    “Torture always works to do only what it was designed to do: extract false confessions.” Huh? I thought it was designed to punish dissenters and scare other would-be dissenters, like an elaborate form of bullying.

  • Lori

    No, it was designed to get false confessions. Bullying can be done much more easily than that.

  • Carstonio

    I know of no useful purpose for false confessions. Far more logical for a brutal regime to inflict suffering just to keep citizens too scared to rebel.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I want your estate. The laws forbid me from simply seizing it and I can’t violate them without revealing myself to be a despot. I can, however, torture you into confessing to an elaborate plan to commit treason and signing a forfeiture which grants me all of your property. Voila, a useful purpose for a false confession.

    I want to create a legacy for myself by combating a nefarious enemy, but one does not exist. I could spread propaganda to create unrest and suspicion, but without any concrete evidence of an impending attack, people won’t go along with it for very long. You resemble a western Asia man — I bet I could convince you to go on at length about how much you hate this country and want to destroy it, if I give you sufficient motivation. Voila, a useful purpose for a false confession.

  • David S.

    The Soviets had a bunch of show trials in the 30s with a parade of people making false confessions. It was good propaganda internally, and even externally way too many people bought it who shouldn’t have.

  • Madhabmatics

    There have been a lot of instances of cops abusing prisoners in order to get a “confession” in order to be The Guy Who Caught The Notorious Killer. Check out “The Career Girl Murders”

  • Lori

    I’m a brutal dictator. You are the leader of a resistance movement. I get you to confess to something awful. It destroys your credibility and allows me to eliminate a major problem without making you a martyr, which would make you an even bigger pain in my ass.

    There are plenty of other reasons why someone might want a false confession. Your imagination is failing you rather badly on this issue.

    Also, brutal infliction of suffering leading to a terrorized population is not actually as optimal of a strategy for hanging onto power as you are determined to believe. Obviously plenty of dictators have resorted to it, but it’s not generally the first choice of the passably mentally balanced.

  • Carstonio

    The scenarios that you and the others present involve some level of accountability for the dictatorship, where the dictator has a need to present a false front for others who might otherwise take away the dictator’s power. Cops are accountable to the rest of the justice system and to the public, so they would have a propaganda motive to bolster their reputation. I was imagining a regime whose control was so pervasive that it had little need for the propaganda value of false confessions, one whose message was basically “Obey or we’ll make you wish that you were dead.”

  • Lori

    So you were imagining a type of regime that is actually quite unusual and then generalized from there to being unable to imagine any need for false confessions? That’s a really big leap.

  • Carstonio

    No, I was imagining that most dictatorships attempt to perpetuate their power by keeping citizens as terrified as possible. I didn’t see what value false confessions would have in pacifying ordinary citizens.

    But I can see their value in discrediting rivals within the regime, and that’s my understanding of how these were used in the USSR under Stalin. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, torture was used primarily for brainwashing, to make dissidents love Big Brother. I don’t remember reading about the Inquisition using false confessions, although they could have done so.

    My larger point is that torture, at its core, seems aimed at breaking dissidents both in body and in mind, so they’re no longer capable of resisting the regime.

  • Daniel

    “I don’t remember reading about the Inquisition using false confessions, although they could have done so.”

    Given that one of the heresies the Inquisitions of various countries were setting out to expose was witchcraft what exactly would a real confession have been? The Inquisition, aside from its noted use of torture to acquire confessions, is not really a good example to compare with dictatorships. It was supranational. It wasn’t about compliance with a political doctrine, but a religious one. Its aim was to eradicate enemies rather than to reinforce the rulers’ powers.

    In dictatorial regimes torture as a legal recourse is about extracting confessions, true or false. In confessing, often falsely, the high-up victims of Stalin’s and Mao’s purges were required to name co-conspirators- in other words name other people the regime wanted to destroy. When those names were given the dictator had effectively destroyed their reputations in public, had increased the loyalty (through coercion and fear) of the larger populace and had gained useful reinforcement for the claims that other nations were out to get them- so allowing repression to be increased still further. Without the false confessions (which were often totally ludicrous) the people would have been less malleable as it would have been easy to imagine the victims as innocent. Again, in 1984 there’s the scene where Winston remembers hearing the trial of the Party members confessing to the heinous things they did and hating them for it. If you read Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, he also makes the same point- the party and the people needed the confessions of the torture victims, confession was integral to the functioning of the society.

  • Carstonio

    Without the false confessions (which were often totally ludicrous) the people would have been less malleable as it would have been easy to imagine the victims as innocent.

    The psychological basis for that are unclear to me. I would have assumed that under a dictatorship, the average citizen’s mindset is one of hopelessness and despair. They could easily imagine all the regime’s victims as innocent but simply accept the injustice as part of life. That’s how Winston Smith strikes me in the first half of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    I guess I’m equating torture with public floggings and public executions, where the pain and death are meant to serve as warnings to others. Sounds as if you’re suggesting that it’s rare for torture to not have false confessions as a motive.

  • Daniel

    Yes, I think you’re talking about corporal punishment rather than torture.

    “I would have assumed that under a dictatorship, the average citizen’s mindset is one of hopelessness and despair.”

    Why? I lived up until recently in the Czech Republic and knew quite a few people who’d lived under a Communist dictatorship, even some who were watched by the secret police. They were all pretty happy, human beings tend to make the best of situations, and even despite the oppressiveness of the state they still went to school, had holidays, listened to music, watched tv, argued, worked, loved etc etc like people do. They may not have liked the party in power, but that wasn’t something they thought they could do anything about so they found ways to enjoy life any way.

  • Carstonio

    I had imagined that living under that type of regime would be death by a thousand cuts. One would see acquaintances, co-workers and even family members taken away or simply disappeared, and one would have to keep one’s thoughts private to avoid being next. Was that not the case?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I suppose it depended. Poland, for example, was never fully capable of being “communized” in the sense that East Germany or Bulgaria were, so people there probably felt differently. The Cathoic Church’s continiuing refusal to simply fade away is considered to be a part of the “story”, as it were.

    Also, too, the intensity with which the secret police operated played a role. In Yugoslavia, for example, in contrast to East Germany, the UDBA at one point was cut back to ~5000 employees while the Stasi employed ~275000 at its peak.

    So Yugoslavs were relatively freer, I would argue.

  • Daniel

    Also Yugoslavs enjoyed certain privileges due to their non-aligned nature- so Yugoslavs could holiday in countries other eastern europeans could not. Apparently (I have family from there, and as I say I lived in Czech for a while) there was a sort of hierarchy of Communist Bloc countries as regards their perks- Yugoslavs were regarded as quite high up because they could go to West Germany and France whilst Poles and Czechs could not, but were still relatively better off that Ukrainians or Belorussians. The holidays and the national pride felt in Yugoslavia from standing up to the USSR engendered a lot of genuine support for Tito even though they were being watched and killed by the UDBA. And that’s leaving aside how many countries to come under Soviet occupation were glad to be rid of the Nazis.

  • dpolicar

    It is perhaps worth noting that even under democratic regimes, we all routinely face having acquaintances, co-workers and even family members taken away from us.

    Yes, we get to publicly grieve and acknowledge their absence, and losing people we love to the decisions of other people isn’t the same as losing them to accidents or illness or suicide or what-have-you, and losing them to other people in government isn’t the same as losing them to other people roaming the streets as individuals, and all of that makes an enormous difference and makes it much much better than it would otherwise be.

    But it nevertheless really really sucks.

    And yet, most of us don’t go around overwhelmed by hopelessness and despair all the time. (One might reasonably ask Well, why the hell not? but the fact remains that we don’t.)

    As Daniel says, mostly we find ways to enjoy life anyway.

  • Daniel

    Look at the US and Britain now. Under the flimsiest of pretexts people can and are being arrested and imprisoned as terrorists. We have recently found out about Prism and that all our correspondences online are being spied on. The UK (where I live) is the most cctv camera filled country in Europe, and we are being run by a government that no one elected because we have a first past the post system that didn’t return a clear winner. We have an unelected head of state, we have assisted the US in torture in Guantanamo Bay and other places, we have tortured people ourselves- and that’s leaving aside all the shit we’ve done throughout our history. Yet we’re- by and large- quite a cheerful bunch in spite of all that.

  • dpolicar

    FWIW, I estimated that if I used those sorts of examples my point would get derailed by obligatory tribal-political signaling, so I stuck with apolitical ones like illness and age and crime.

  • Daniel

    Sorry. I have small shoulders because they’ve got so many chips on them, and occasionally they get the better of me.
    I was hoping that by identifying myself as British, and pointing out offences from both sides of our system (Labour went to war, Tories are the unelected government, both have facilitated torture…) that I would avoid tribal ranting too.

  • dpolicar

    No worries, and I hope it works.

  • Carstonio

    While I agree with you in principle, I think you’re underestimating the distinction I’m trying to make between the two types of loss. There’s a great deal of randomness with illness and even crime, so with these it’s not like everything you do is being scrutinized by a suspicious regime. Although it’s not an exact comparison, I’m reminded of the first part of Maus where the net draws tighter on the Spiegelmans over time.

  • dpolicar

    Fair enough. On general principles I would expect a fair amount of similar randomness under even the most totalitarian despotic regime as well, Maus and 1984 notwithstanding, but I’m no expert and you might well be correct.

  • Daniel

    It depends what state you’re talking about. Even in the cases where something similar happened, like in Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China, so pervasive was the cult of personality of the leader that often people would genuinely believe those arrested had committed the crimes they were accused of. Also, there would be people higher up who would know the confessions were bullshit but would accept that the greater good of the party’s cause necessitated such bullshit. Also, there would be people who would just insulate themselves from it- throw themselves into their work etc in order to distract themselves from the horrors around them. And of course, whenever people did get irritable it was always easy to invent a common enemy for them all to band together to resist.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Think of the scale of it. Even the ones who killed huge numbers of people didn’t go around randomly killing one of every N citizens; they’d wipe out a whole town — not leaving behind “acquaintences, co-workers and even family members”. Most people did not “see acquaintances, co-workers and even family members taken away.” Some people saw a acquaintance, co-worker, even family member taken away. Most people had heard about such things happening. From a friend-of-a-friend. And of course, it was usually one of “those people” — even if it wasn’t, well, surely they must have done something to deserve it. Didn’t love their country enough. Went walking down dark alleys at night dressed slutty. Must be. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to the Right Sort of people.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think your perception of a citizen’s mindset under dictatorship is too wrapped up in how you would feel if you were transported into a dictatorship.

    No society lasts long when the “average citizen”‘s mindset is one of constant “hopelessness and despair”. Even in the terrible dictatorships, people still go to work, fall in love, celebrate birthdays, get flat tires.

    People in general are not unhappy and dispairing all the time. Most of the time, most of the people are at most a little less happy than most of the people most of the time in a free society. Most of the time, the state of mind of most people is mostly determined by small temporal things. It’s not an all-encompassing sadness that consumes everyone — it’s mostly something more like an aversion to any attempt to move outside of their comfort zone.

  • Alix

    (Bit late, but) It’s probably more accurate to say that torture is designed to get the confession the torturer wants to hear, and that is absolutely something the Inquisition did. A great deal of the stuff the people they arrested confessed to is ludicrous – at best, highly garbled facts, and often things that are blatantly false or confessions of things that are incredibly unlikely to have all been practiced by the same people. “Oh, yes, we totally engaged in homosexual orgies. And spat on the cross. And worshipped a woman’s severed head. And worshipped a demon with a name that sounds suspiciously like a mangled version of Mohammed. Yes, totally, now can you take me off the fire, please?”

    But it’s what the Inquisitors wanted to hear. It’s what made the pain stop, in theory. And so people confessed to all manner of things. You see the exact same thing in the various witchcraft trials.

    (Sorry, I can’t help myself. Certain topics come up, I have to blather on, even days later…)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    My personal favorite is “I’m a mid-level enforcer for a brutal dicator. One of my rivals has gained the dictator’s favor. I get you to confess not only to something awful, but that my rival put you up to it.”

  • Lori

    That is a good one*. Employed carefully the false confession is a multi-use tool.

    *For values of “good” = “appalling”.