Postcards from the culture wars

Postcards from the culture wars December 3, 2013

You seem successful and delightful!

It took everything we had so that our son would not suffer.”

“The woman at the crisis pregnancy center said my college would be free if I had a child.”

“In preaching a message of punishment, the hellfire and brimstone preachers of Judgement House like to think they are going against the grain of dominant cultural values. As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.”

“Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to say that the Constitution does not permit state religions. They just think that on this one, the framers of the Constitution got it wrong.”

“Ken Starr, a retired federal judge and former Solicitor General who single-mindedly pursued a criminal investigation into President Bill Clinton sparked by Clinton’s sexual behavior with an adult, signed a letter to Kloman’s sentencing judge arguing that ‘community service’ would be a more appropriate punishment for someone who repeatedly sexually assaulted children entrusted to him by their parents.”

“It was another link in the chain from Stieve to Mecklenburg to Willke to today’s anti-abortion Republicans.”

“The Church knows no one is listening to its sexual strictures, and many clergy don’t even believe they should. But everyone goes on pretending — at least in the West.”

“Lord, save me from men who don’t understand the biology of women’s bodies and think that they have the right to legislate or adjudicate from that point of ignorance.”

“In this case, a young woman in a crisis situation was put at risk because religious directives were allowed to interfere with her medical care.”

“The suit claims that the hospital knew that the fetus was not viable, and withheld medically indicated care due to restrictions placed upon them by the Conference, and that further those restrictions also prevented the hospital from telling her the truth about her condition or the restrictions themselves that prevented appropriate care.”

“This is some room-temperature faux-macho alpha-pansy nonsense, and I am here to beat it bloody and leave it on the ground.”

“It now appears his phony ‘transformation’ has moved on to recruiting an innocent victim as a prop to give credence to his lie.”

“Catholic principles of justice, equality, human dignity, protection and support of all families are what are motivating them to support marriage for lesbian and gay couples.”

“At an expensive summer camp, ‘boys will be boys.’ On the streets of Washington, boys will be part of a trend piece.”

“The totally non-racist Republican Party is made up of conventional people who are nauseated by inter-racial marriage.”

He doesn’t celebrate Christmas with his own family.”

“While the My Lai Massacre is widely recognized as a military atrocity and an act of mass murder committed on civilians and non-combatants, true appreciation of the event as an act of mass rape and sexual abuse has never clearly materialized in the American consciousness.” (Trigger warning, big time.)

“All we have left is Jewish Mother. Someday, Jeff Goldstein, G_d willing, you will regret this.”

“More important, however, is that Vision Forum promotes a vision not just of male leadership in the family and the nation, but more specifically a vision rooted in an ideology of white male mastery.”

“The idea that racism ended permanently when a few heroic individuals who conservatives can now support decades after the fact in highly sanitized versions — so that the only remaining racism is liberal opposition to racism — is a fundamental principle of the contemporary Republican Party.”

“But since the days of slavery, into the days of super-predators, and now the time of the Knockout Game, there has always been a strong need to believe that hordes of young black men will overrun the country in a fit of raping and pillaging. It’s how we justify ourselves.”

“God is not in the habit of talking — because we are not in the habit of listening.”

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  • smrnda

    Perhaps someone would defend the average Confederate on the grounds of illiteracy or a prohibition on reading anything but the King James Bible of 1611. Of course, defending people from the past by claiming ever increasing levels of ignorance doesn’t seem to say much better for them.

  • Lorehead

    A simple argument is that, if most people really didn’t ever have any sexual attraction to sixteen- or seventeen-year-olds, fake IDs wouldn’t work. What is the case is that most people are ethical enough not to take advantage of people that age.

  • I know he sometimes does “Good News For People Who Like Good News” posts.

  • GDwarf

    In that view, the victims don’t matter, or even whether there were any
    victims at all: someone sexually attracted to someone who looks too
    young (and it’s all about appearance, not ability to consent), even if
    he never harmed anyone or acted on those feelings, is more evil than
    someone who rapes college students.

    Oh yes, you see that particular one all over the place. Probably the best example is that drawings of minors in sexual situations are illegal in most of the western world. Ignoring the fact that it’s an existential absurdity to argue the age of a fictitious character (If nothing else, what if the artist says “No, they just have a real/fictitious condition that makes them look young?”) who is harmed by such drawings? No one that I can see. It’s entirely about reacting to something because it grosses you out, not because you actually care about the causes and consequences. This also means that such laws will never change. No politician would ever want to be known as one that was “pro-kiddie porn”, no matter the actual facts.

    …I suppose another sign of just how far this witch hunt has gone is that throughout this whole post I’ve had to resist saying “Of course, all forms of child abuse are wrong and terrible, etc…” I mean, that goes without saying, and I’m neither a paedo- nor ephibo- phile, but the mere act of pointing out how ridiculous the attacks on them have gotten risks having oneself branded as being “one of them”.

  • One could argue that sexualizing the visage of a child promotes pedophilia, regardless of the reality of the character’s age, but it’s such a gray area that there’s probably no real answer to that.

  • GDwarf

    What does “promoting paedophilia” even mean?

    Honestly, there’s no grey area: It’s simply politicians making a “tough on monsters” stance and people letting them because they really don’t like “those people”.

  • Turcano

    Plantation Records

    Shelby SIngleton Music, Inc.

    Muscle Shoals, Alabama

    Yeah, I think I’m seeing a pattern here.

  • It means if there’s such a thing as sexually objectifying women, then there’s probably a way to sexually objectify children, and unlike consensual pornography where you can be turned on and then go ask the same questions and potentially get the same answers of an adult, there are virtually no circumstances where a person who looks like a child is going to be anything other than a child. I can see an argument where it’s just not a good idea to imply that such a thing could ever happen.

  • Lorehead

    I’ve actually had my life threatened here by a troll who insisted that anyone who makes the points we just made is as evil as a child molester and deserves to die. Fred didn’t ban him. Following his post history showed that he was a rape apologist.

  • Jeff

    “Which is why people are ticked at Cohen, not because we misunderstood him to be saying he personally is repulsed by the DeBlasio family.”
    Who are these “we” of whom you speak? Clearly the blogger at feministing that Fred linked to, and Fred himself, misunderstood the Cohen comment in exactly the way that many other bloggers and media outlets did.
    (Noticeably absent from the discussion is an acknowledgement that it’s a pretty malicious smear to say that Tea Party members find deBlasio’s interracial marriage nausea-inducing.)

  • Jeff

    Well, ok, but while it’s obvious that finding deBlasio’s marriage “nausea-inducing” is hateful, what we’ve lost is that Cohen simply attributes this position to Tea Partiers completely off the top of his head (and his comments basically admit this).
    Do you know what’s actually racist? It’s deflecting criticism of a politician by alleging that his critics are racially motivated. deBlasio is going to be a terrible mayor, and it’s possible to think that without caring (or even /knowing/) that his wife is black. Obama is presiding over a disastrous presidency, and it’s possible to think that without caring about the color of his skin.

  • “there are virtually no circumstances where a person who looks like a child is going to be anything other than a child.”

    I’m 28. I can easily make myself look 15, just by wearing the right clothes. So really, it depends on if we’re talking about “looks like a prepubescent child” or “looks like a teenager” here. A LOT of hentai features 18-year-olds who look 14, and I know a good non-hentai example:

    In the manga Gunsmith Cats (gun-porn, not hentai, but still not a good idea to give to most kids), Minnie-Mae is a former call girl from Chinatown. She’s 17 (19 in the English translation), but deliberately took drugs to stunt her growth so that certain clients would pay a premium for her…”services.” She looks maybe 12. Her small size and girlish looks are an asset to the bounty-hunting team, mainly because most people don’t believe that a girl who looks 12 (and, admittedly, adorable) is going to be dangerous, much less an expert in explosives.

    I can also see that argument, but I can also go along with a canonical “She’s of legal age but looks younger,” as long as it’s within reason, or (as in Minnie-Mae’s case) there’s an in-canon reason given for unusually-young looks. It’s when an age isn’t given and someone looks too young that I get creeped out.

  • So…even more sexism!

  • Damn it, home state, stop being horrible.

  • The main disaster of Obama’s presidency is that the Republicans in the House won’t let anything get done. The President–any US president, really–can’t force Congress to do its job; the system of checks and balances written into the Constitution didn’t exactly take a situation like this into account.

    Obama’s not really all that liberal; more like Clinton-lite.

  • Where that article says “The Church,” they’re referring to the Roman Catholic Church as an organization, not churches in general. So…yeah, I think they’re right!

  • Jeff

    Time will tell, but the central disaster of Obama’s presidency is certainly shaping up to be Obamacare, and it’s hard to pin that one on Republican obstinacy.
    Of course, my point wasn’t to ask “is the Obama presidency a disaster or not?”, but to observe that alleging that people only criticize Obama because they are racist is, itself, substantially racist, because it effectively exempts Obama from criticism to which he, as President, ought to be subjected. To your credit, you didn’t complain that the Republicans in Congress are obstructing the President’s agenda because they are racists and can’t stand the idea of a black man in the White House. And I hope you don’t think that way. But surely you’ll acknowledge that many of the commenters here, and our gracious host himself, certainly do.

  • mattmcirvin

    …Of course, some of the states had prohibitions on an establishment of religion in their own constitutions from the beginning, and some of the framers of the Constitution were involved in that as well, so it’s not as if they were necessarily in favor of the states setting up state churches. But I don’t think incorporation of the federal Bill of Rights can necessarily be attributed to them.

  • Carstonio

    For the hundredth time, racism is about what one says and does, not about what one feels or intends. It’s very reasonable to see what passes for ideology in the Tea Party as racism – the movement began talking about “taking our country back” as soon as Obama took office, and its language about public assistance is couched in Southern Strategy euphemisms.

    Obviously a negative opinion about Obama is not automatically racist. (My main criticism of the man is that he hasn’t fought hard enough to reduce inequality – he deserves praise for the CFPB and the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but I wanted him to truly rein in Wall Street and achieve single-payer health care.) What is racist is the Tea Party slamming Obama as a “Muslim” or “socialist” or “not one of us,” obvious euphemisms for his ethnicity.

  • Jeff

    If that’s the best evidence you’ve got, I’d say my point stands. The Tea Party’s self-stated raison d’etre is to vocalize opposition to excessive deficit spending and expansion of the national debt. Tea Party members are people. I’m sure we can assume that some of them are racists, and some are not, just as some liberals are racists, and some are not. But for Cohen, and for you, to assert /without evidence/ that Tea Party members in general find Bill deBlasio’s interracial marriage “nausea-inducing”, is absurd.
    Of course, I could link you to the blog of a black Tea Party member who happens to be married to a white man, who says Cohen’s characterization of the Tea Party is completely at odds with her own experiences, but you’d just cook up some cocky-doody reason why her opinion doesn’t count. To your side, it’s incredibly important that Republicans/Tea Partiers actually /are/ racists, since you’ve spilled so much ink and expended so much thought believing them to be.
    As I said, at the end of the day, that’s ultimately more racist than the racism you accuse the other side of.

  • Carstonio

    The alleged campaign against deficit spending is fundamentally phony, by both the Tea Party and the GOP. Both advocate cutting only social spending while raising military spending, and the programs they target are the ones that would reduce inequality. The difference with the Tea Party is that they act as if government budgets are no different than household budgets.

    I never called the Tea Party racist, I said that the group says racist things.

  • Michael Pullmann

    “If nothing else, what if the artist says “No, they just have a real/fictitious condition that makes them look young?””
    Those always feel like a hollow attempt at justifying the artist’s desire to draw (or write; I’m looking at you, Steve Engelhart) sexy teenagers. Dude, just own it.

  • Jeff

    I’m sure you’ve heard the sound byte where then-Sen. Obama condemned Bush’s expansion of the national debt, saying that it was irresponsible and unpatriotic. Obama was the prototypical Tea Partier!

  • Carstonio

    I won’t defend or criticize what Obama said then, because I can’t speak for him. My own stance on Bush’s spending is twofold – he fought two wars on the national credit card instead of seeking tax increases to pay for them, and he pushed tax cuts that benefited mostly the very wealthy. Recessions and depressions are really instances of money flowing less in the economy, so periods of deficit spending are justified as recovery tools. One of my gripes with Obama is that he didn’t borrow more from the New Deal playbook and push for infrastructure projects to put people to work, such as rebuilding aging bridges.

  • And in terms of 21st century infrastructure there’s a lot that could’ve been done: expanding library funding is a linchpin of that, since with more money they can stay open longer and buy better computers for more patrons. The downstream effects would include more investment in higher-speed Internet connections, and on the snowball rolls.

  • *Headscratches* I’m not sure I get your point. I say that unlike anime, the vast majority of people who look like children really are going to be children, and your proof that this is not the case is to point at anime? :p
    As for real people doing their best to look a lot younger… yeah… kinda seeing that the same way real people do things like wear high heels or get breast enhancement surgery. It feels like a symptom of the same illness.

  • To me, most adherents of the Lost Cause myth seem defensive, and at its
    core the myth may be about shame stemming from an honor culture
    mentality. Partly the perception that the military defeat stripped their
    ancestors of their honor.

    And the irony is that said ancestors essentially refought that war as an asymmetrical partisan-slash-political conflict and won. They didn’t get their happy-clappy antebellum South back, but they got the next best thing: white guys stayed on top.

  • GDwarf

    But what if it’s legit? That’s the problem, you can’t tell, because they’re fictional characters.

  • Time will tell, but the central disaster of Obama’s presidency is
    certainly shaping up to be Obamacare, and it’s hard to pin that one on
    Republican obstinacy.

  • Because it does work.
    I mean, it doesn’t make them any less racist, nor does it covince anyone that they aren’t, but it accomplishes what they actually want, which is to make it socially acceptable for them to be racist.

  • I think there is a fundamental tension in the fact that you can have “Always believe the victim” only if you also take “I shall never love or trust someone so much that I won’t turn on them in an instant if they’re accused of rape”

  • Well, it IS shaping up as a disaster, just not for Americans or for Obama.

  • Lori

    That’s true, which is one of the reasons that I’ve never been comfortable with “Always believe the victim” as a rule. However, there’s a wide gap between turning on someone the instant they’re accused and refusing to believe the evidence, even as it keeps piling up. I have nothing against giving a friend or loved one the benefit of the doubt, but I have a great deal against closing ranks.

  • Michael Pullmann

    “I swear, Your Honor, her Marvel Universe Handbook entry says she’s 18!”

  • The Tea Party’s self-stated raison d’etre is to vocalize opposition to
    excessive deficit spending and expansion of the national debt.

    Where the hell were they when Dubya Bush happily went on a spending binge to have a couple of splendid little wars while granting tax cuts to rich folks in the process?

  • Muriel Volestrangler

    Re ‘ex-gay’ Glatze: who turns up to their own wedding in a short-sleeve shirt, chinos and boring tie, when their bride is in a traditional white wedding dress? That doesn’t send the message “I think you’re special”. Hell, I’d expect any guest to make more of an effort than that (I think everyone else in the photo did – no-one else looks like they’re on their lunch break). OK, the “ex-gay” BS may be the major indication that marriage won’t last, but he’s not even trying to look like he’s in love. The poor woman.