Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Happy New Year!

Happy Wordless Wednesday to everyone! Closing out the year with some photos of Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina.

I tried to include some local institutions:

Loose Lucy's and Mast General Store--both of which I also wrote about here.

O.P. Taylor's toy store. (If you get the name, you are officially old!)

Liquid Highway.

Sharkey's Pub.

Also, the Richardson Street Parking Garage, which doesn't have a web page, but even better--free parking on weekends!

Hope everyone has a fabulous New Year; drive safely, and all that good grandma talk. Love yas passionately!!!!!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It doesn't matter, she was just lookin at you

Main Street, Greenville SC.

Listen to how purty this sounds, particularly the harmonies entwining the line, "You might need her someday, you might need her someday"--sounds just like angels.

All that blather yesterday about bisexuality brought the song "It doesn't matter" back into my consciousness, so I went looking for it. And by gum, there it was. Some VERY YOUNG PERSON with excellent musical taste posted it on YouTube. (You classic rock kids are GEMS, didya know that? I could kiss all of you.)

I seem to remember the original, by Stephen Stills and Manassas. The guitar lines have been lifted wholesale; Stills had major guitar chops. But I confess, I prefer this glitzy pop version that I heard on the radio... and of course, this is the version that perfectly matches my memories. (Some nostalgia just makes you ache, particularly at the year's end.)

Thanks for the song! And I hope you all enjoy it.


It doesn't matter - Firefall

Monday, December 29, 2008

Odds and Sods - End of Year edition

From the Orange County Register, Pastor Rick Warren floats angelically... next up, he WALKS on water, too!


Lots of stuff to check out! I hardly know where to begin.

First, on the Pastor Rick Warren follies, as I have come to regard them...Mona Charen, right wing crackpot in good standing, offers the following (quite amazing) observation:
What particularly outraged gay rights activists was a comment Warren made in a TV interview when he compared two homosexuals getting married to a brother marrying a sister or an adult marrying a child. Those were not the most felicitous comparisons and probably unnecessarily hurt the feelings of gays and lesbians.

And yet, the point Warren was making was a valid one. Once you abandon the traditional definition of marriage to suit the feelings on an interest group, by what principle do you stop redefining marriage? Gays and lesbians argue that their same-sex unions are loving, committed relationships. Fine. But there are, or could be, other loving, committed relationships involving more than two people. Supporters of gay marriage say this is a ridiculous slippery slope argument.

But consider the name that many gay activists have adopted. You no longer see gay and lesbian alone. Instead, the new terminology is LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Lesbians and gays say that without gay marriage, they cannot fully express themselves as they really are. But what about bisexuals? I ask this not to poke fun or to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in all seriousness. How does gay marriage help a bisexual? I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women. If you are a bisexual man married to a woman, don’t you need to break the marriage bond to express your bisexuality? If you choose to express just the homosexual side of your bisexuality, then aren’t you gay? Likewise, if you choose to express only the heterosexual side, how are you a bisexual? Why is bisexuality not a recipe for infidelity? As for transgender people who believe that they are “assigned” to the wrong sex, their sexuality seems a deeply complicated matter. According to Wikipedia, the term “transgender,” which is always evolving, today encompasses “many overlapping categories — these include cross-dresser (CD); transvestite (TV); androgynes; genderqueer; people who live cross-gender; drag kings; and drag queens; and, frequently, transsexual (TS).” We are now in the realm of a multitude of sexual deviances.
Well, as a bisexual, let me say that I don't see why I am thus COMMANDED to infidelity. Huh? (I wrote about some of these issues in my piece on Bisexual Invisibility.)

The common-sense reason bisexuals are in favor of gay marriage is in the event that we fall in love with a same-gendered person (rather than an opposite-gendered person), we would probably like to marry them.

Is that really such a complicated matter?

And Mona has unwittingly let the cat out of the bag, hasn't she? This ultra-scary GENDER CONFUSION (of Mona's) and her pearl-clutching fear that people's sexual identities are just spewing out all over the place--unrestrained, every which-way, chaos reigns!!-- is the real problem. BARBARIANS AT THE GATES, seems to be Mona's almost-hysterical message, and if we grant them the right of gay marriage, everyone will be changing sex all over the place. ((((screams!))))

If all of this bothers Mona, we must be doing something right.


I didn't know that the author of The Bitten Apple had been a student of Hugo Schwyzer, whom she says was always very open to her as a right wing student. This granted her the necessary freedom to listen to his opposing views respectfully; she did not feel she was under siege. Her process is fascinating:
One of the reasons I disliked my creative writing professor last quarter was because he was so blunt in saying how “hateful” and basically stupid conservatives are. Being liberal in your politics does not necessarily mean that you are open-minded. He asked the class one day, “Are there any really religious people in here?” Obviously, I couldn’t raise my hand, because I would be such a killjoy, so I just shut up and let him talk about how there is “no big guy in the sky” and how “a 2,000 year old dead guy is not going to come back from the dead.” I was pissed. My voice was silenced. One of the reasons I like Obama is because he does not automatically deem the other side stupid, ignorant, or hate-filled.

Several months ago, while I was taking that creative writing class, I realized exactly what made me so upset about that professor. It wasn’t entirely his politics, to be sure. I reflected upon my own journey from being a fundamentalist, Mel Gibson type Catholic into a relatively socially liberal feminist, thanks largely to the women’s studies course I took back in spring 2006. Hugo, my professor and mentor, was and still is much more liberal than I am. Regardless, he always accepts me at whatever stage I am at in my spiritual journey. He accepted me when I was a staunch pro-life, anti-gay marriage 19-year-old student. He was empathetic with me when I was contemplating losing my virginity, knowing how much my virginity meant to me. And he accepts me now. Had I had a women’s studies professor who merely wrote off the conservative perspective, I likely would not have been receptive to the class and might not have embraced feminism to the extent that I have today. In order for me to break out of my ultra-conservative worldview, I needed someone to empathize - but not necessarily agree - with my position at the time.
Also check out her post on Jessica Valenti's upcoming book, The Purity Myth.


Palmetto state native Eartha Kitt (from whom Madonna stole "Santa Baby," right down to the baby-talk phrasing) has passed on. She was a fabulous singer, but baby-boomers undoubtedly remember her best as Julie Newmar's replacement as Catwoman on the old 60s Batman TV show (featuring hizzoner, Adam West).

In addition, Majel Barrett Roddenberry has also died.

Unfortunately, Nurse Chapel never got to bed the enigmatic Mr Spock, but we were all rooting for her!



For Immediate Release: Dated December 27, 2008
Another Transgender Woman Shot in Memphis
On Christmas Eve, a Memphis television station reported the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards in Memphis. She becomes the third transgender woman shot in Memphis in just six months. At last report, Leeneshia is in critical condition. We extend our hopes and prayers to Leenashia for a speedy recovery.

We also ask for anyone with any information about this latest crime to call Memphis Crimes Stoppers at (901)528-CASH.

The shooting of Leeneshia Edwards helps shed light on a disturbing trend in Memphis. Transgender women who work in the sex industry in order to survive are now being targeted by a pervasive culture of violence.

The indifferent attitude of law enforcement towards the February 16, 2006, murder of Tiffany Berry, and the February 12, 2008, beating of Duanna Johnson by Memphis Police Department officers, has sent a message that the lives of transgender people are not important. This has fed the culture of violence that has permeated the second half of 2008, and is exemplified by the July 1 murder of Ebony Whitaker, the July 28 murder of Dre-Ona Blake, a two year old girl who was killed by the man who had previously been charged with the murder of Tiffany Berry, but was allowed to walk free for two and a half years, the November 9 murder of Duanna Johnson, and now the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.

This open season on transgender people in Memphis and elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they engage in sex work, must come to an end right now.
Read the rest of the press release at Questioning Transphobia. And to donate, go to Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.


I watched a boat-load of movies over the holidays... most chosen by the intrepid Mr Daisy, who knows I am too exhausted to rub two brain cells together while I am busily toiling in the Christmas retail trenches. He chose some great movies, but my favorite was The Good Shepherd (2006). It brought back that strongly-paranoid Cold War vibe that many of us were raised with. Directed by Robert DeNiro, lots of critics found it long and tedious, but I found it tightly-wound and terribly unnerving, like the old Mission Impossible TV show could be, at its very best.


Hope everyone has great plans for the New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Feminists on High Horses, pt. 2

A woman who is admittedly hostile to feminism, Typhonblue, posted the following recently at the Feminist Critics blog:

Feminists disavow or ignore violence that happens to women when it does not follow their ideology. Namely, violence done to women by other women, or violence done to daughters by their mothers.

This suggests it’s not women’s suffering, per se, that’s important to them, but upholding their ideology.
Ouch! She brought me up short with that one. In attempting to refute her statement, the best I was able to do is offer the example of Phyllis Chesler's book, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, (as well as an old thread here at DEAD AIR, on female friendship).

And then I thought, ohhh wait a minute. Phyllis is now in the business of adversely judging Muslim women, isn't she?

Not a good example, maybe.

Of course, this left me no examples at all. I was then forced to face Typhonblue's words.

It is important for feminists to remember, always, that feminists (not just women, but feminist women) have oppressed other women. Leni Riefenstahl was considered a feminist, you know. Feminist heroine Margaret Sanger was a racist and eugenicist. Feminists have freely collaborated with men in brutal communist regimes, as well as within terrorist factions worldwide.

My question is, are we to ignore the agency and free choices of these feminists and other feminists like them? Are all women so oppressed by "The Patriarchy" that we unable to choose a proper, moral course of action?

Are we also, then, mere puppets, mouthing the words? Because if so, why do we bother?


All of this came to mind as I read an interesting post at Palin PUMA Watch. This post deftly deconstructed Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff's (aka Heart at Women's Space) impassioned defense of fundamentalist Christian women and Sarah Palin in particular. Heart and other feminists such as Violet Socks at Reclusive Leftist have been zealous in their defense of Palin. This has left me somewhat dumbfounded.

I was hopeful that after the election, this embarrassing state of affairs would just go away. I was wrong. Both blogs are attacking Obama for his (very bad, no question about it) choice of Rick Warren to lead the invocation at his inaugural. This is, they claim, because Warren is a well-known homophobe, which of course begs the question: Have they checked out Palin's positions on gay rights? They are the same as Warren's.

This disconnect, I find very strange. Heart begins:
I have been intending to write a post about the way so many feminists, leftists, liberals and progressives consummately misunderstand conservative Christianity and conservative Christian women in particular. I keep feeling overwhelmed by this writing project and so deciding against it. But given the across-the-board anger among women over the misogyny of the 2008 Presidential elections, it seems important to me to at least begin to take a stab at offering some of my thoughts in the interests of working towards uniting women, bringing women together, something that is not going to be possible so long as feminists simply, again, don’t get conservative Christian women (and too often don’t even try because despite all the evidence to the contrary, they think they know.)
As my regular readers know, I live in what is possibly the most conservative county in the USA. A quick look at an electoral map of 2008, shows us that Heart's state, Washington, is blue and went Democrat. Mine, South Carolina, is red, and has been that way for a very long time.

In addition, I speak to conservative Christian women every single day, on my job, as both customers and co-workers. I consider some of these women to be my friends. Although once a proud Quiverfull fundamentalist, Heart is now a political lesbian feminist. Her dealings with fundamentalist women are in the past, not the present. Thus, I think I qualify as one who can critique this rather bizarre broadside. Heart continues:
During the 2008 election campaigns the staggering amounts of misunderstanding, misinformation, disinformation and absolute hogwash circulating about Sarah Palin and her connections with conservative Christianity were startling and, honestly, shocking to me. Cluelessness reigned, with all sorts of people claiming Palin was a “dominionist,” a “reconstructionist,” a stealth member of various kinds of secret, fascist Christian cabals and cults, and you name it. There was little to no concern for facts or for accuracy; worse, leftists, progressives, you name it, just spouted off randomly, continually, without bothering to do a bare minimum of homework, you know, talk to folks, talk to dominionists and reconstructionists and theoretically secret-cabal-and-cult-members, or if not that, at least read their writings, which are available in superfluity, in abundance, nay, in a GLUT, all over the internet.
They are not just all over the internet, but right here on DEAD AIR, as a matter of fact. (see argument in comments here)

Is Cheryl saying here that Pentecostals are never Dominionists or Reconstructionists? My seminarian (see link) tells me they can overlap fine, although they don't always. (Why can't they?) If one believes that religious laws (i.e. abortion, gay marriage) should apply to the government, then one is arguing from a Reconstructionist position. The concept is that the government should be reconstructed to reflect Christian values. The Bob Jones University people sometimes refer to this philosophy as theonomy.

What homework are people supposed to be doing, exactly? You either want the government to be an arm of the church or directly reflect church law/morality, or you don't. Period. It isn't complicated. Palin's positions are in perfect keeping with this perspective. Considering that she does attend a very right-wing church with conservative theology, is Cheryl/Heart saying that she doesn't really believe what her church teaches?

And here we come to the heart of it. How responsible is Palin, the governor of the largest land-area in the USA, for what she says? Is she merely mouthing the words, but somehow doesn't really believe them? She calls herself a feminist and is a member in good standing of "Feminists for Life." Is this why we are supposed to look the other way when she makes offensive or theocratic statements? Why?

If women are to be equal, then we must take complete responsibility for our actions, our politics, our beliefs, our ideology, as men have historically been held accountable. And you know, I think Sarah Palin would totally agree with me about that.

But Heart doesn't. We are not supposed to call Palin a homophobe or point out that her policies would actually hurt women, if made law.

And Heart reminds us that she was once a leader in this right-wing:
I walked among these scary Christians for many years. During those years, I was a leader of women, and among those women were my closest friends, mentors, sisters.
Does this mean that Heart/Cheryl was "scary" too? Well, if she was a LEADER, of course it does. But look at how she abdicates responsibility for being a leader, while still wanting to brag about being a leader. How does that work, exactly?

This is exactly her approach to Palin: Isn't she fabulous? But she can't help being deeply indoctrinated by her church, poor dear.

Which is it? Both cannot be true.

I show Sarah Palin respect by taking her at her word, that yes, that she believes what she says she believes. She has never said that she is dissenting from the teaching of her church (as I have said I dissent from mine, for instance). We are not putting Sarah Palin down for being a Christian. This is utter bullshit--we are putting her down for what she has SAID SHE BELIEVES AND WANTS TO MAKE LAW. She wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and has never made a secret of that, among other radical measures that would adversely affect the lives of millions of women.

Why are we supposed to grant her an exception for being a woman? Is that feminist?

But then, this isn't the only recent post in which Cheryl/Heart has made it clear that we are not to hold women to the same standard as men, except when we should.


Ampersand, at Alas, A Blog, weighed in a couple of weeks ago, about the term Christianism, which upset me terribly (as a Christian, even a slipshod, bad one) ...and yet, it did make sense. What other word could there be for the Christian-supremacy of the USA, such as the "Christian litmus test" for political office, which I have written about also? Ampersand also made fun of the idea (as I would, too) that Christians are oppressed. Heart responded that Christian women ARE oppressed, so Ampersand is terribly misogynist and wrong for laughing at the very idea:
“Christians” are not oppressed in the same way “Americans” are not oppressed in the same way “whites” are not oppressed — they are not oppressed if they are male. They are not oppressed unless they are female persons, in which case they are oppressed by men in their group or by men who are at war with or in other kinds of conflict with the men in their group. “Christians” are not a sexless, genderless monolith; there are male Christians and female Christians and many, many members of the former group severely, and in a dedicated fashion, oppress the latter; as well, men from other religious groups oppress the latter in times of conflict or war.
And with this, I get dizzy.

What about the female nazi officers, many of whom were proud members of Deutsche Christen? I was suddenly reminded of the movie made from Fania Fenelon's biography, Playing for Time. There is a terrifying sequence in which a female nazi officer at Auschwitz, played by Shirley Knight, brings a sweet, gurgling baby in to show the Jewish women prisoners. Knight is happy, laughing, ecstatic; the women prisoners have never seen her so human, so real, so feminine. But... whose baby is it? Where did the baby come from? They know where: she has stolen the baby from some executed, Jewish mother. They obediently coo over the baby, in a forced, frozen manner. They want to stay in the Kommandant's good graces; she has power over life and death, after all. But the horror in their faces is evident.

This searing scene has never left me, all of these years. It was true, an actual event in Fania Fenelon's imprisonment. I saw the movie once, 28 years ago... and I never forgot it. Know why? This was a woman's story, and a woman's moment. It pressed into my consciousness, and reminded me: Women can be evil, too, and don't forget it.

Did Christian women help identify the witches for burning? Did especially pious women volunteer to clean up the blood after the Inquisition? (You didn't expect MEN to do that, did you?) Christian women owned slaves; Christian women sent the dogs out to retrieve them when they ran off. YES, THEY DID. As a Christian woman, let me take full responsibility and admit what other Christian women have done.

And Heart/Cheryl tells us she was "a leader of women" among the fundamentalists, so let me be very clear: Heart counseled women to homeschool, to abstain from birth control, to have as many babies as they could, as part of the Quiverfull movement. She proudly spoke at podiums, organized groups, and published/wrote/edited a magazine that they read. In short, Heart oppressed women, as a Christian leader. She has never taken responsibility for this. The reason she has not apologized is that she was too oppressed as a woman to NOT do this, so she is off the hook. As are all the women I have mentioned above. Right?

(((ethical dizziness ensues)))

Heart writes:
This is an important part of my own reality and story, because, as I’ve also written about frequently, I suffered tremendous harm and loss at the hands of these men and eventually sued several of them (and won). As is true of so many other Christian women now and throughout history (consider the witch burnings in Europe and the U.S.), I was specifically targeted, subjugated and harmed as a Christian woman by the men and male-led organizations in my Christian group with the goal that I would remain in subordination to them.
(Note: She also sued TWO WOMEN, Sue Welch and Mary Pride, but has conveniently left that part out.)

Heart says she was a leader. But then, she says she was subordinate to men. Well, which was it?

Which is Sarah Palin?

Heart decides Ampersand is full of shit:
As to Amp’s post about “Christianism,” that would have to be “Christian Male-ism,” Christian Patriarchy, the “fathers of the faith” so-called having played, along with other fathers of other fundamentalisms, a crucial and central role as an architect of male heterosupremacy. But that has nothing to do with women.
Christian women, oppressing other women, DOES have to do with women. And anyone who can't get this, is politically a mess, and does not deserve to be listened to.

And in closing, I am reminded of Sudy's post, in which she declares the word PATRIARCHY to be "old school"--it doesn't quite account for the twisting and turning realities we are discussing here, does it?

Sudy proposes the word Kyriarchy(read the whole thing!):
When people talk about patriarchy and then it divulges into a complex conversation about the shifting circles of privilege, power, and domination -- they're talking about kyriarchy. When you talk about power assertion of a White woman over a Brown man, that's kyriarchy. When you talk about a Black man dominating a Brown womyn, that's kyriarchy. It's about the human tendency for everyone trying to take the role of lord/master within a pyramid. At it best heights, studying kyriarchy displays that it's more than just rich, white Christian men at the tip top and, personally, they're not the ones I find most dangerous. There's a helluva lot more people a few levels down the pyramid who are more interested in keeping their place in the structure than to turning the pyramid upside down.

Who's at the bottom of the pyramid? Who do you think are at the bottom of the pyramid who are less likely to scheme and spend extravagant resources to further perpetuate oppression? I think of poor children with no roads out of hell, the mentally ill who are never "credible," un-gendered or non-gender identified people, farm workers, modern day slaves...But, the pyramid stratifies itself from top to bottom. And before you start making a checklist of who is at the top and bottom - here's my advice: don't bother. The pyramid shifts with context. The point is not to rank. The point is to learn.
Learning does not take place in the face of open denial. Learning can not happen when we are busy abdicating our role in society. Yes, I have more status and money than a newly-arrived male immigrant from Mexico. The Guatemalan waiter in my local diner is not "oppressing" me, because he is male and I am female. This just doesn't cover the intricacies of social arrangements in these modern times.

And yes, Sarah Palin can be a woman, even a feminist, and oppress other women. I take her at her word that she believes what she says she believes, and will do as she promises she will do.

Let us proceed, then, from there.

Feminists on High Horses, pt. 1

Way back in the day, I belonged to a very rigorous political collective, which contained several Marxists. They policed everyone, as Marxists are wont to do, proclaiming themselves the keepers of Advanced Political Thought and Revolutionary Consciousness, also known as Class Consciousness. I actually bought this for awhile. I was young and stupid.

And then, I found out several of these people were rich kids. Kids of privilege. Kids who were basically slumming. I had been utterly fooled by the boho, hippie lifestyle, the fashionable thinness that I had mistaken for semi-starvation, and the gung-ho talk of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and the government. I had never met people OF the class they wanted to overthrow; it made no sense to me. I was stunned. And: Class consciousness? I asked them (during one of their interminable meetings), wasn't it impossible for rich kids to have the proper class consciousness? Aren't you irreparably tainted? After all, one of their heroes, Chairman Mao, thought so, and sent the grown children of the rich to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.

Rather than answer me, they kicked me out of the collective for other manifestations of political incorrectness.

Why, you ask, is she telling us this?

Because it was one of the turning points of my life, the moment I Got It: The reason these people thought they could be the Best Marxists of Them All, was because they came from families who communicated to them from the time of their birth, that they were the best, always right, the people who should be in charge. Thus, when they entered the Left, they took charge of that too, not missing a beat. Of course they did. You didn't really expect them to let poor or working class people lead them, didya? They know best, they are educated, they can quote Herbert Marcuse and Antonio Gramsci at you. They looked down on me, rather as rich kids had always looked down on me. Of course they did.

I was reminded of this nasty episode recently, reading Twisty's feminist blog, I Blame the Patriarchy. Twisty is preaching, once again, about what other women should do. And this is where I start scratching my head. What does Twisty do for a living, again? Why is she the one telling the rest of us what we should be doing? Ahh, yes. Deja vu all over again.

I commented on this state of affairs briefly on Christmas Eve (comments section), when I was rushed, exhausted and sniped that Twisty lives on her dead daddy's money, and offered my handy-dandy definition of PATRIARCHY = rule of the FATHERS. In a surprisingly rapid response (PS: I want me some dedicated groupies, like Twisty has!), I got an indignant email pointedly asking me why that is your business or anyone else's?????

Ohhh, I assure you, dear reader, it ISN'T my business. As is the motherhood or nonmotherhood of other women and other feminists. That is a personal choice, or as feminists have always said, should be. That is entirely my point. And why don't you get it?

Why does Twisty think she has the right to proclaim which women are patriarchy-collaborators? We all collaborate with the Evil System in some way, don't we?

I sincerely hope I will be able to leave something to my daughter and granddaughter when I depart the planet--I don't have anything against that. But if I do, I will not kid myself--this will be dirty capitalist money, dirty patriarchal money. There is currently no way to opt out of our economic system, as Twisty acknowledges in her post; capitalism is the air we breathe and the regime we live under.

As the Apostle Paul once said, there is not one righteous, no, not one.

If one believes we live in a patriarchy, as Twisty says we do (check the name of her blog), then we are all part of it. And living on money that was accumulated by your admittedly sexist Texas daddy who hunted and acted like a typical Texas Patriarch, well... how is that not directly benefiting from the patriarchy? And why isn't anyone supposed to point that out, when she can self-righteously point her finger at mothers for breeding?

These are equally personal choices, and equally nobody's business. Twisty proclaims, in a post she claims is "pro-mothers" (!):

We want women to reject marriage and the nuclear family. We want women to not have kids in the first place.
We do? First, as in the punchline of the old joke, whatcha mean "we"?

How about a fun rewrite: We want women to reject the nuclear family, including their daddies. The possibility of inheritance unconsciously pressures daughters to behave and not rebel, so they won't offend papa and get cut out of the will. We want women not to appease their fathers.

Now, how does that sound? (NOTE: I believe someone like Julia Penelope or Marilyn Frye has actually written that before. It isn't an original feminist concept of mine.)

In addition, Twisty calls herself a "spinster aunt", which I think means someone in her family has had a child that she takes some personal delight in, doesn't it? To the extent that she actually defines herself this way, as the rest of us call ourselves mothers and grandmothers. Does she understand that many people have their own children for the same reason that she participates in Aunthood? She even has a child's photo (I assume a niece) on the header of her blog, while letting us know we shouldn't be having children. Huh?

Twisty comments:
Post-revolution, things’ll be different, but currently in our culture motherhood is not just a matter of pregnancy followed by childbirth. It is a big ole set of behaviors and expectations and consequences and connotations and allusions and obligations and dogma — what I think of as nuclear motherhood — that is so deeply entwined with patriarchal praxis it is almost impossible to see the forest for the trees.
Ya think? Can't see the forest for the trees? Guess what: I think the same about being one's father's daughter, which I renounced and rejected.

Otherwise, you know, I might have inherited a little something too. But I made a choice.

And that is my point here. We all make choices, and pay the price for those choices. As feminists, we need to talk about the numerous highly-charged, emotional reasons for these choices, while trying to understand why someone else made the opposite choice.

There is not one righteous, no, not one.


One of the axioms of second-wave feminism was "The personal is political"--a phrase credited to Carol Hanisch of the Redstockings, if memory serves. This was a statement meant to radicalize women in a particular way. Until feminism, politics was politics--elections, economics, committees, laws. Not motherhood, dishes, laundry, abortion. Feminism sought to expand this awareness, that women's lives had been circumscribed by what men had relegated to the personal sphere. A good way to sum this up is in the title of a book by Jean Bethke Elshtain: Public Man, Private Woman. Women were about the home, while men owned the public square. "The personal is political" was an expression intended to bring this situation into stark relief, and radically change it.

Unfortunately, what started as descriptive rapidly became prescriptive. Feminists in the 70s began to police each other. In the political group I described above, all of the women defined themselves as feminists, some as radical feminists and some as lesbian feminists. And yet, and off daddy's money, as several were, was never questioned as politically suspect. Why not? Why was my decision to work for an organization such as the Salvation Army considered wrong (due to their Christian base and origins), but being financially able to NOT work AT ALL, wasn't? Well, obviously, because of the intellectual and verbal acuity of the very people we are talking about; the self-evident superiority and stylistic cool of the women living that way make the rest of us (scrambling to make ends meet) look frazzled, poor, inferior and stupid.

In the Women's Movement, feminists with the ability to calmly reflect and never lose their cool (bourgeois, white yankee manners are still considered the mark of "maturity" in the political sphere) are the ones who make proclamations and announcements, while the rest of us simply react. They have set the agenda and the rest of us abide by it. Feminist theory is made by women with advanced degrees, and the considerable time and funds to attain them. And lots of these women, like Catharine MacKinnon, were the daughters of pretty important men (MacKinnon's father was a congressman and judge, for example). And they make no apologies for that, yet expect other women to apologize for their connections to men, as well as apologize for sex work, for motherhood, for stripping, for high heels, for dresses, for marriage, for religion, for rock music, for the Salvation Army, for whatever it is.

I don't get it. On the other hand, of course I do: The affluent and the privileged do not have to explain their choices, and never have. That is what classism IS. Thus, living off daddy's money, owning daddy's land, attaining highfalutin advanced degrees with daddy's money, all of that is a given. I have read so few feminist essays counseling women that they should not accept inheritance from fathers (as stated above), that I can't even remember who wrote them or the last time I read one....on the flip side: I have read hundreds of essays and posts trashing motherhood as unfeminist.

Why do you suppose that is?

If I am expected to explain my personal choices, my motherhood, my work for the Salvation Army and my fondness for the Grateful Dead or Rolling Stones, so are you. And you do not get a free ride just because you were born with bucks, just as the people who threw me out of the collective did not. I will ASK and EXPECT a reply to the pertinent question: How can someone live off their wealthy daddy's money and purport to be this big revolutionary? Do you see any contradiction here?

Of course, there are plenty of political/feminist contradictions in my life too--and feminists like Twisty have wasted no time in pointing them out to me. For instance, in the thread in question, Twisty comments:
As for not having children, it is a political decision I advocate based on the current state of global overpopulation and the rate at which H. sapiens is hurtling toward a major die-off due to the earth’s inability to sustain us in these numbers. The emotional fulfillment one seeks through reproduction can be found in countless other, less privilege-weilding ways. If reproduction is to be used to bolster a wobbly relationship, or to provide a sibling for the one you already have, or to create built-in caregivers for your old age, or to gift the world with your irreplacable genes, or to create an adorable mini-me to mold, or indeed for any purpose, it is an irresponsible act.
As coincidence would have it, my daughter lives in the Texas Hill Country, right in Twisty's expensive backyard. I know how much the land is worth and how much it costs to live there. The gasoline expense ALONE can be staggering, since everything is miles and miles apart. Twisty used to tell us in her blog bio that she "divided her time between Austin and the Texas Hill Country"--but has since modified this statement. (She still calls herself a "gentleman farmer"--which I assume means she is still living part-time in the Hill Country.) I have to ask--what about all that gasoline? What about maintaining two residences? Is that good for the earth and the beleaguered H. sapiens? Why is it politically acceptable to have two residences (that one must travel back and forth to, in vehicles that require oodles of gasoline)--but not two children? I figure, as far as the environment goes, it's probably a wash. But see: land-owning is a given, having children is something the low-classes do. (Except when it's your own family, and you can call yourself an aunt.)

I will not listen to affluent people, any affluent people, feminists or not, tell me shit about how I am propping up capitalism and/or the patriarchy.

However, I will ask them to please show some political consciousness--and when they donate everything they have to the poor, pick up their cross and follow the Movement, I will then grant them the sainthood they are claiming is already theirs.

(Part two picks up tomorrow.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Family

I hereby present a Dead Air tradition! Robert Earl Keen's MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE FAMILY! Non-rednecks and/or yankees are certainly free to sit this one out. You've been warned!

Have a great Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad!


Merry Christmas from the Family - Robert Earl Keen

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Look to the future now, it's only just begun

I was linked on both SALON and Newsarama this week, yall! I am thrilled! I don't need no other Christmas presents! (Thank you, Kate and Sarah! )

Again, more apologies. I promise I will be a far more punctual blogger after Christmas is over. And please pray for your local retail-slaves at this time of year, they need your love! I assure you, they are near total COLLAPSE!

And now it's time for Daisy's favorite secular Christmas carol! ENJOY!

I only need to hear this song once, and my harried holiday-in-retail workday is made quite lovely indeed, suddenly transformed into magic.


Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dead Air Church: St Francis Festival of Trees

I hereby apologize to my fabulous ongoing correspondents, blog-readers, blog-authors, and all the rest of you: Christmas in retail has kicked my ass, once again. When I get home, I have been fit for little more than ingesting WALL-E and The Dark Knight. Nothing interactive, all passive. This happens to me every year. I don't rightly know what a non-retail Christmas would be like, I've been doing it for so long. But it does leave me totally SPENT.

As I get older, it's harder to do, on a purely physical level. Add the fact that I am clumping along on a broken leg and... aiyee! Exhaustion looms.

However, as always, we took time out to visit the St Francis Festival of Trees last evening, and have a bite at the wonderful Stax Omega.

Enjoy the trees! The pink one was very cool, with pink feather boas all wrapped in it, but I am rather partial to the creativity of the scuba divers! Which do you like best?

Hope you are having a bang-up happy holiday season, my lovelies.


More trees at my Flickr page!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh by gosh by golly...

I mentioned this song in my far more comprehensive post about Christmas music last year... and now that I am back at work, Christmas music everywhere, including the really awful stuff. No escape, so I try to invoke the Zen of Retail.

Decided I needed me some class!

This song is accompanied by visuals of various traditional Christmas cards. The video I initially wanted had Frank actually singing it, but alas, is no longer available. (As I asked in this post, how exactly does one DO that--just call up YouTube and demand they pull it, or what? Does your copyright lawyer have to call? Since Frank is gone, who is responsible for this--Nancy?)

PS: I profusely apologize to my fellow vegetarians for the line, "tasty pheasants"--which does rhyme with "presents"--after all.

Smoothest dude ever! Enjoy!

Frank Sinatra - Mistletoe and Holly

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Only 9 more shopping days till Christmas...

A rather Christmassy look for Dead Air! (It's supposed to sparkle!)


I guess I don't mind telling yall, yesterday's entry was the hardest one I've ever had to write. I even have a hard time reading it back. It took me all weekend.

I had just learned Kathy was in the ICU, when I learned of the death of my friend Sue Urbas via Christmas card, and felt the scary onslaught of the Pale Horse, which I described back on December 5th.

Aye, it's been a rough week.

I realize one of the unpleasant parts of aging is that you are LEFT BEHIND (deliberate joke)... and maybe that's why that concept is so frightening? What a terrifying thing to tell the children, that everyone you love will leave you and you will be left behind. Meditating on this awhile, I've decided it's a form of child abuse.

It's bad enough that this will happen to you anyway, if you live long enough.

I knew I had to tell the truth in my obit of Kathy; ironically, she is the one who taught me how to do that.


Sue Urbas and I were not good friends, but were in the same social circle at one time. She was probably the most tireless activist I have ever known. She was the person we all compare ourselves to, the one who didn't compromise her hard-core values with cable TV or mass-market googaws for her house. She was employed by the old Northend Recycling Center, which was located in the old Northwood Community Center in Columbus, Ohio. (Someday, that place deserves it's own post, if I could find some decent photos. Certainly, I never thought to take any. The story of how an old elementary school turned into a hippie-haven is an amazing tale all its own.) Sue was one of the managers of this building, as was a guy who was an extra in the movie Brubaker, filmed in Ohio. (I can never remember his name, but whenever I see the movie replayed on American Movie Classics, I always wait for him to pop up in the shot with Robert Redford: There he is! I knew that guy!) The community center burned down, not surprisingly, apparently due to arson. The spiffy, shiny community center that was erected in it's place is a bureaucratic replica, populated (of course) by various bureaucrats.

One thing I noticed about the above-linked obituary of Sue, is no mention of her radical feminism. I grow extremely weary of the much-repeated stereotype of second-wave feminists, that we were all middle-class, shrinking violets engaged in endless tea-and-sympathy consciousness-raising and theory-reading, listening to Meg Christian records. Sue was nothing like that at all (which is possibly why no one thought to mention her feminism in the obituary?)... An organizer of Women Against Rape, she also managed one of the first homeless shelters in Central Ohio; she worked her ass off for unjustly-charged, poor black male defendants. She helped organize the series of punk concerts called "NOWHERE" (as in, Nowhere 79, Nowhere 80). One of these included the late Ronald Koal, a memorable local star of the time. She was also instrumental in organizing the yearly COMFEST, from the time of it's inception.

Left: Shirtless Eric Moore channels Ted Nugent, as he poses in a 70s photo with his band The Godz. (He was wearing shiny long black leather coats long before Neo and Trinity, too.)

I recall Sue was once closely associated with local scary heavy-metal dude Eric Moore, one of those weird friendships nobody could quite figure out. But I thought it was great. It just added to the Sue-legend, just like her friendships with the rough-and-tumble ex-convicts she was always helping to get released on parole.

Thus, she was not a typical radical feminist, by any means. (Are any of us, really? Or is that a stereotype that finally needs to be put aside, at long last?)

Rest in peace, Sue. We will miss you.


After five weeks, I am finally back to work with my big boot/leg-cast thingie... it is humongous, awkward and gets caught on everything. I am somewhat amazed at how everyone thinks it's okay to joke about it and call me gimpy and suchlike. Is this what disabled people have to put up with, or are people more circumspect if they know it is a permanent vs temporary disability? Is the whole "joke" in calling me "gimpy"--the fact that I am really not gimpy--so it's okay to joke about it? I have shushed at least two people (who I am not willing to argue with at length), telling them someone else might hear them. I am trying to give them the message that it isn't cool to say that, but one person just replied, "OOOooops! You're right!" and covered his mouth. Then he whispered it to me the rest of the fucking day. (Now, I ask you, is that funny or what?)

Last week, I was slowly (and rather painfully) hobbling over to an empty checkout line to pay for something at a local establishment, when a very fit, younger woman galloped in front of me, so she could be first. Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I did not cuss her out, but unbelievably, she kept looking at me and half-smiling, apologetically, obviously hoping I wasn't offended by her abject rudeness. (Yes, bitch, I am plenty offended, now just pay for your shit and get out of the way, please.)

I am sure that kind of thing happens to disabled people all the time. So, I have to admit, it's been a learning experience...not necessarily the good kind.


Why hasn't Politico covered the arson at Wasilla Bible Church, Sarah Palin's church? Why did I have to read about that in my local paper, but haven't heard it covered extensively in the news? (And as you all know, I am newshound extraordinaire.)

Accelerant poured around Sarah Palin’s church before fire, ATF says

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • December 15, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- An accelerant was poured around the exterior of Gov. Sarah Palin’s church before fire heavily damaged the building, federal investigators said Monday.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the accelerant was poured at several locations around the church, including entrances.

Lab tests will determine the type of substance involved. Possibilities include gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel or even lamp oil, Agent Nick Starcevic said.

The blaze was set Friday night at the main entrance of the Wasilla Bible Church while a small group, including two children, were inside. No one was injured. Fire authorities were called to the scene at 9:40 p.m., unusually early for many arson fires, Starcevic said.

“It’s kind of odd to do in the evening hours,” he said. “I can tell you that most of the arson fires I’ve worked on are late nighttime, usually when no one is there.”

Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, was not at the church at the time of the fire but visited Saturday. Her spokesman, Bill McAllister, said Monday that Palin knew about the accelerants Saturday morning before a statement she authorized was released that day.

During her visit at the church, Palin told an assistant pastor she was sorry if the fire was connected to the “undeserved negative attention” the church has received since she became the vice presidential candidate Aug. 29, McAllister said.

Wasilla Deputy Police Chief Greg Wood said authorities had no immediate suspects or motive.
Okay, look, assholes: I don't like Sarah Palin either, as a random search of this blog makes very clear. But if you have issues with Palin, what you do, is DEMONSTRATE in FULL VIEW of EVERYONE at one of her rallies. You do not creep around like a comic-book villain under the safety of darkness and burn a fucking church down with people in it.

Whoever did this, you are a swine and a coward. You deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


And how is everyone else's week going?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kathleene Anthony 1944-2008

My AA sponsor always signed her cards, letters and emails "Yo AA Momma"--and yes, she certainly was.


I don't remember the month, but I do remember the year, 1982. In the basement of an old building on East Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, I was becoming increasingly restless with what I regarded as the just-so stories of Alcoholics Anonymous. The sloganeering, the shallow analysis of the psyche, the borderline-Calvinist zeal of some members, was wearing on me. I needed more, and I was getting argumentative about it.

Left to my own devices, I wouldn't have lasted out the year.

She was sitting across from me. Next to her, a very well-behaved child, about 7 or 8, was coloring and drawing quietly with crayons. Every now and then, the child would hear something and her eyes would widen. She would look at her mother, as if to say WOW! Her mother looked back, silently reinforcing, don't say anything, we'll talk later. (This exchange reminded me of my relationship with my own mother, wherein I was allowed to hear adults talk, only if I promised to be quiet.)

I remember she was quite large, even then, and was wearing green.

I don't remember exactly what she said, but the subject was gender differences in recovery, and a lot of sexist bullshit was floating around the room. I was greatly annoyed by what I was hearing and there was an accompanying tension at the base of my neck, giving me a roaring headache.

And then she introduced herself: "I'm Kathy, and I'm an alcoholic," she said, and explained, simply and thoroughly: Men in recovery talk about what they did, while drinking. ("Yeah man, we was hanging off the freeway overpass!") Women talk about how they felt. ("I cried every night!") The task in recovery is therefore: to get men to talk about their feelings, and to get women to talk about actual behaviors and how that effected the people around us.

Otherwise, she concluded, nothing has really changed, and we are not taking full responsibility. There can be no recovery.

Listening to her, I had one overriding thought: Oh dear God, who IS this person?

I knew she must be some kind of recovery professional, and might not be interested in sponsoring me. (People don't necessarily want to continue their jobs after they come home at night!) But I knew from listening to her, that she was a feminist. And ohhh my, how I needed her.

I had long ached to talk about the relationship of addiction and recovery to feminism; I needed a working-class, intelligent feminist who read books and was in recovery, and here she was, sitting right in front of me.

I was afraid, asking her, that she would say no. I could also tell, as she gave me her phone number, that she had given it to a lot of people... people who had attended one or two AA meetings and disappeared. She seemed accustomed to the request, and gave me her stock definition of "sponsor": one who takes an active interest in recovery. She didn't like the authoritarian, male-modeled sponsorships that AA then specialized in. She thought sponsorship should ideally be between peers and friends. I nodded as she gave me the spiel, inwardly thrilled that she had said yes.

I kept hearing we were supposed to call our sponsors every day, check in with them constantly like parole officers. Did she think that was necessary?

Could I call her every day? Would that be okay?

Bemused, she said yes, I could call her every day if I needed to do that. I could tell she didn't expect any such calls. (Later, she said I looked like an agitated hippie planning to go score some coke that very night... or worse.) Obviously, she'd seen my kind before.

But I did. In fact, I called her almost every day for the next five years.


What can I say about her? That she saved my life? That would be correct.

I find it impossible to list everything she did for me, but I can mention the highlights: giving me a baby shower; coming to collect me (and my child) after a devastating domestic dispute; supporting me through two divorces; being the local contact-person for my aged grandmother who had Alzheimer's disease; assigning me the daunting task of speaking for AA in various detox units she worked in (to build my confidence, she said); taking me to a country-and-western show in an RV park in Delaware, Ohio; declaring me "Support Womyn #1" during her oldest daughter's wedding... and just so much more.

At one point in my sobriety, she informed me that I needed to attend all-women's meetings, to bond with other women. Women in predominantly-male AA groups were prone to care-taking and attention-getting, and do not adequately work on themselves, she announced. (Once I began this habit, I attended mostly women's AA meetings from that point on, and made wonderful, lifelong friends. Some of the best advice I ever received.)

She was always taking in stray homeless people from AA, and her couch was a well-known Central Ohio AA pit-stop. She was the head of several detox units, and was also a psych nurse at the Columbus State Hospital.

In later years, as her health worsened and her fibromyalgia and arthritis brought constant pain, Kathy's personality underwent an almost radical change. She became nearly reclusive, and although her tremendous kindness remained, she was the victim of random street crime and learned to be suspicious. (I stopped sending any kind of gift card to her in the mail, since these would likely be intercepted before she could get to them--stolen right out of her mailbox.) She felt very vulnerable, and her vulnerability sometimes made her angry. People were not as kind to her, in her time of need, as she had been to others, and I think she found this confusing, frightening and unfair. It seemed to her that the world was going to hell in a handbasket, and in accordance with this conviction, she converted to a fundamentalist sect. And I found it more and more difficult to talk to her, so we communicated far easier online, where one can pick and choose which comments we will directly respond to. As time slipped by, she seemed more and more confused, and I knew that she was on some pretty heavy pain medication. Some conversations, she would just talk about how manageable the pain had been that week, and little else.

When my mother died, I brought Kathy some stuff from my mother's house. Practical items, cups and saucers, a can opener, some computer paper. And then I hauled out a painting by my mother. She told me she didn't want it.

A flash of the old Kathy, suddenly, as she said, "I wouldn't have had so much work to do with you, hon, if she had just done her job a little better," and then she lightly chuckled. "Not that I minded that, but I sure don't want any painting of hers," and I felt that I'd been slapped. This was the feisty Kathy who charted my Fourth Step with me, who could always tell when I was fibbing, and who resolutely forced me to tell the truth at all times.

I must have had that dumbfounded look on my face, because she added, "None of that is your fault, dear, it's between your mother and me," and lightly chuckled again.

And then, the old, shrewd Kathy seemed to slip back behind a cloud. She huddled beneath a large blanket, clearly very ill, as I kissed her goodbye.

May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem. And may Jesus and Mary welcome your troubled, tired soul into heaven, dear friend.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Left: Dad and son arrive at this evening's Mass commemorating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.


After all of the media foofaraw over my priest, I figured it would be relatively safe to go today's Mass. The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Latino holiday, and the Spanish-speaking priest was presiding. And I was right! I was one of extremely few gringos in attendance.

It was educational to sit through a Mass that I didn't understand. This is how many immigrants feel, living in the USA: Huh? What?

I didn't know any of the songs, not even the basic melodies. It is almost as if there is more than one Catholic church.

And then again, of course there is not: I could follow the Order of Mass fine. I knew everything that was going on; the bell rings for the consecration and the host is held aloft. I followed along okay, as Latinos follow along okay for the English Masses. It's all one church, and A follows B, predictably, comfortingly. The ritual washes over one's soul, richly reassuring and reminding.

One of the hymns seemed ineffably sorrowful, and the woman next to me wept silently. Since I didn't know the Spanish lyrics, I wondered if the sadness was in the hymn itself, or some memory called up by it. I thought the woman could be missing her homeland. I wondered if the Blessed Mother made her think of her own mother, who is probably very far away. The concept of the Communion of Saints means that we are all together; the entire Church partaking of communion together, throughout time and space, living and dead. It is an idea that has always comforted me, and whenever I seriously meditate on it, my fear of death dissolves. I felt this especially strongly as I realized so many of the immigrants at this Mass were actively praying for their kinfolk at home-- missing them so much, I could feel their intense longing through their wistful singing.

Left: Adorable little pumpkin in traditional Mexican dress, inspects the articles that have been brought for a Feast Day blessing.

Children came with baskets of flowers and vigil candles as offerings for the Blessed Mother. Some were dressed traditionally, and were just SO PRECIOUS! (I am missing my grandchild mightily, and again, I realized so many people present were also missing children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters....) Babies were brought forward for blessings. We were all ceremoniously doused with holy water.

I recognize the story of Guadalupe, even delivered in Spanish, through the use of certain words: Juan Diego, Maria, Sacramento. I love the Blessed Mother very much, and when I have asked her for comfort, she has never failed me, as she did not fail St Juan Diego.

It was a wonderful evening, and I felt greatly restored.

Can comics be pornography?

An Australian Supreme Court justice says yes:

Simpsons cartoon rip-off is child porn: judge
December 8, 2008

A NSW Supreme Court judge has ruled an internet cartoon in which lookalike child characters from The Simpsons engage in sexual acts is child pornography.

In a landmark finding, Justice Michael Adams today upheld a decision convicting a man of possessing child pornography after the cartoons, depicting characters modelled on Bart, Lisa and Maggie engaging in sex acts, were found on his computer.

The main issue of the case was whether a fictional cartoon character could "depict" a "person" under law.

"If the persons were real, such depictions could never be permitted,"Justice Adams said in his judgement. "Their creation would constitute crimes at the very highest end of the criminal calendar."

Alan John McEwan had been convicted in the Parramatta Local Court of possessing child pornography and of using a carriage service to access child pornography material, the latter of which has a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail.

The male figures in the cartoons had what appeared to be human genitalia, as did the mother and the girl depicted in the cartoons.

The magistrate had said that had the images involved real children, McEwan would have been jailed.

However, he was fined $3000 and required to enter into a two-year good behaviour bond in respect to each of the charges.

McEwan appealed the decision arguing that fictional cartoon characters could not be considered people as they "plainly and deliberately" departed from the human form.

But Justice Adams agreed with the magistrate, finding that while The Simpsons characters had hands with four fingers and their faces were "markedly and deliberately different to those of any possible human being", the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

Justice Adams said the purpose of the legislation was to stop sexual exploitation and child abuse where images are depicted of "real" children.
Graphic novelist/comic-book author Neil Gaiman pointedly disagrees:
The idea that you could be arrested in the Western World for having [similar images] in your computer is mind-boggling, let alone for owning Lost Girls, or for doodling members of the Peanuts gang doing things they tended not to do in the Schulz comics, or for reading Harry Potter slash, or owning the Brass Eye Paedophilia special. And, I should warn members of the Australian judiciary, fictional characters don't just have sex. Sometimes they murder each other, and take fictional drugs, and are cruel to fictional animals, and throw fictional babies off roofs. Crimes, crime everywhere.

The ability to distinguish between fiction and reality is, I think, an important indicator of sanity, perhaps the most important. And it looks like the Australian legal system has failed on that score.

I don't know if it's something that they can further legally appeal, or afford to appeal, but I hope they can. If not, I hope that a bunch of Australians will get together to change the law.
Feminist comic book fan Valerie D'Orazio, responds to the ruling on her blog Occasional Superheroine, and it's on:
For example (I've decided to totally edit this description of one of the Simpsons images out at the last minute, as it's just too disturbing). This is different, in my humble opinion, from Daisy Duck and Mickey Mouse having passionate sex against a wall. Daisy and Mickey are consenting adults sowing their wild oats in the usual way -- albeit by committing adultery and unfaithfulness to Minnie and Daffy!

So I shed no tears for the absence of porn based on underage cartoon characters on the Internet. Nor will I miss feeling like a party to an illegal act every time I do an image search for cartoon and comic book characters.

However, there must be a rather sizable number of people actually visiting these XXX cartoon parody sites -- not just those who get off on such images, but just regular people looking for some gross-out humor. Will the latter category find themselves roped in with these crackdowns, even arrested? Would having an illustration of a "Peanuts Orgy" on your hard drive be enough to convict you as a sex offender?
Good question! And several people reply on the subsequent thread, as Valerie clarifies:
As for defending free speech, I hope when somebody comes out with a comic book that Gaiman and the rest find personally hateful and offensive, they will step up to the bat and defend that too. Not an art book with beautiful Melinda Gebbie illustrations. But some sort of over-the-top extremely religious comic book full of hate for a variety of topics -- like Jack Chick on speed. If a book like that gets published, and prosecuted for "hate speech," I want to see all these free-thinkers defend their right to be hateful. Because when I see a cartoon image of a little child being sexualized and engaged in carnal acts, I consider it hateful, and "hate speech."

I realize I'm just a big square (draws polygon around her head for emphasis)
Predictably, the contentious follow-up thread on Occasional Superheroine drew 80 comments before finally being closed.

Valerie D’Orazio writes:
When you champion this sort of porn, you run the risk of taking all porn down with you. People outside of the quaint aesthetic bubble you are living in look at you making this passionate case for illustrated child porn and...they can't even identify with you, can't even understand what you're saying. And then in turn you make fun of these people, call them all puritanical maniacs, religious nuts. Nothing gets accomplished. There is no middle-ground. There are just extremists on both sides: extreme liberals who fight for the right to publish child porn, and extreme conservatives who put fig leaves on the penises of statues.

But there is a whole lot of people who are on the middle in this debate. In the end, you have to stop preaching to the choir and start addressing them. Understand where they are coming from, stop turning your nose up at them. Try your explanation on them about how harmless images of Lisa Simpson having sex with her dad are, and see how well that goes.

I like the CBLDF a lot, but if they were fighting for the right of a publisher to print images of little children having sex, I'm not interested in supporting that fight. I'm not. I know I would be more popular if I did. But I just can't do it.

I read stuff like what Neil Gaiman wrote, and it's like I'm living in a completely different world from him. I can't relate to it. I'm all for eroticism. I'm not here to take away Playboys, Witchblades, and your assorted avant-garde pornography. But...

It's a bubble. It's a big bubble. And it's a bubble in which I feel I do not have the complete freedom to speak my mind. It's a bubble all about "freedom" -- in theory. But it really isn't. It's only about the freedom to agree with the majority view within Bubbleland. I feel as oppressed by this bubble as I do by people I feel who are sexist, probably more. I mean, I don't really give a damn what the sexist people think of me. But to come up against the Bubble -- I don't have the guts to do it. Honestly, it scares me to death.
And frankly, I feel like I am occupying another universe than the one she is in. My First Amendment absolutism comes into play, and I am once again a feminist at odds with traditional feminism.

I ain't the only one. Collateral Damage blogger rattsu writes:
I'm sorry. I love this blog. I really do. I've never minded the snark or the battles. I've read it for the insights into the industry, and being a woman, for the views that it offered on what sometimes went on behind the scenes.

However, I can't continue reading it anymore. I know that this doesn't really matter, but I wanted to explain why.

You see, I don't want to continue reading the blog of someone that looks down on me. That thinks I might be dangerous on the level of people carrying around loaded guns in their bags. That thinks that the things I like eventually might seep into my mind and make me enact things in real life. Hell, I'm 37 years old. I've been through a lot of censorship debates. I've been a part of the underground video tape trading where we dealt with third and fourth generation copies taken from the countries where the movies I liked managed to sneak through uncut. A lot of the things I loved back then, who was dead illegal and forbidden (especially in sweden where I live) are now shown in every movie theater.

This is not about loaded guns. This is about morals and the public consensus. It is ALWAYS dangerous. It must ALWAYS be stopped. Whether comics or music or porn, the difference is where you draw the line. And if that line is drawn to include art? With things drawn on paper? With figments of your imagination? With fictional tales of word in stories?

Then I'm sorry. Like it or hate it, if that's turned illegal, then I am a criminal, and support criminal activities. Sure, Simpsons porn for me is about as daft as furries and not my thing, but seriously...

Comparing reading what I assume to be hardcore SM porn to carrying a loaded gun? *facepalm*

I'm sorry Val. You have lost all my respect there. Goodbye.
And thread contributor Will speaks for me:
As for defending things I don't like (i.e. religions or groups I agree with), well, that's the whole point. If we only defend those things that we agree with, that's not much of a freedom of speech.

People are arguing that this case is a thought crime are not watering down the meaning of the words, because this case is a thought crime. This guy hasn't done anything. What if it so that erotic novels about vampires were declared obscene and owning one would get you tossed in jail (banned for promoting an unnatural attraction and sexualization of the dead). You didn't actually have sex with a dead person, just owned a story about someone who did.

I know, I know, vampires aren't real (neither are the Simpson's though) and child molesters are, but I hope you at least understand where some of us are coming from. Once you start jailing people for possessing drawings, no matter how distasteful, where do you stop?
Indeed, where DO we stop?

What do you think?