WTF Sh*t's F*cked Up and Bullsh*t - a "Who Cares" thread for news

Innula Zenovka

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I saw it. It was pretty awful, and offensive on a number of levels. I'm no fan of Netanyahu (I can't stand him, or his government) and I found it so.
Warning -- lengthy rant follows

From what I've read about it (especially from Martin Rowson's very nuanced account -- and he's a pretty savage political cartoonist) it's a good example of how the cartoonist's perfectly legitimate disapproval of the policies of the current government of Israel, and the policy of the current US government towards the government of Israel, simply blinded him or her to the deeply antisemitic tropes on which the cartoon draws.

I don't want to get into an argument about Israel and the Palestinians since I'm acutely aware from both Northern Ireland and (through family connections and friends) elsewhere how political conflicts between different groups who both see the same territory as home seem far simpler the further away you live from them and the less direct contact you have.

Certainly when I lived in the USA in the early 1980s, despite my innate sympathy for the goals and aspirations of the NI Catholic and Republican community, I frequently found myself having to defend the policies of Margaret Thatcher's government (which I despised) simply because even I knew that the situation in NI was way more complex than it looked from California's Bay Area (the fact that much of the violence on the ground concerned disputes not about political ideology or religion but about which gangs should control various drugs, smuggling and and protection rackets, for example, came as a surprise to most people in the US who wanted to explain NI to me).

To my mind, the hard facts of the matter are that this sort of dispute between two groups who think they own the same territory provides a political environment in which thoroughly unpleasant groups and individuals may thrive, and that any sort of lasting solution can come only when the citizens and leadership on both sides decide that enough is enough and they'll just have to sit down together, much as they dislike and distrust each other, and try to come to a solution both sides can live with and which they can sell to their respective supporters, despite cries of "betrayal" and "what about ....!?!".

The most outsiders can do is remain patient and try facilitate the conditions under which that may happen (as did the UK, the USA and EU in NI). You can't impose a solution from outside, and certainly not by becoming parties to the dispute -- it was only after successive British governments stopped trying to defeat PIRA and, instead, concentrated on trying to hold the ring, as it were, and keep the peace in NI generally that we started to see movement towards a long-term peace settlement.

Peace can only come, it seems to me, in this sort of dispute when

Anyway, despite that, it seems to me that, whatever anyone's general sympathies in the dispute over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, it should be -- is, indeed -- perfectly possible to make valid criticisms of the Israeli government without resorting to antisemitic stereotypes, just as it's perfectly possible to make valid criticisms of the governments of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia without resorting to anti-Muslim or anti-Arab or anti-Pakistani stereotypes, or various African governments without using anti-black stereotypes.

The criticisms may well be justified but the racist tropes aren't, and the justifiable (though doubtless unintended) offence the tropes cause simply shifts the focus away from the abuses that are the real target of the criticism.

Most of us get this, and understand that the wise response, when told that we're being racist or sexist, is -- always assuming we didn't mean to be -- to apologise and to take the criticism on board rather than get into a fight about it.

Certainly, ever since my university days, I've made the conscious effort never to say (or think) anything that begins with "I am not a racist" or "I am not prejudiced against..." or "I am not a bigot" unless the next word is "so" rather than "but," and it's something I really would recommend to people.

Furthermore, that "so" had better not be followed by something like "so it's unreasonable and probably insincere and politically motivated to accuse me of being one," which is why I (and some horrified British diplomats) could see what was wrong with Boris Johnson taking it into his head to recite Kipling's Madalay during a visit to a Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Yes, I get that the poem deliberately works to undercut the crude language and surface racism of its purported narrator, who clearly loves the place and wishes he was back there, but I also get that the occasion of Johnson's visit was neither the time nor the place for him either to recite the poem or try to explain it to his hosts.

Since most of us, I would hope, realise how crass it is when some people (guests on Fox News, for example) start going on about how the American Civil War is long over and blacks have the vote and equal rights and should get over it and stop going on about slavery and racism, or make similar cloth-eared remarks about indigenous American people, it also seems pretty self-evident that a member of a minority group that, for more than 2,000 years, members of various dominant groups -- Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans and just about every subsequent European nation and empire -- have persecuted and murdered as a matter of policy (and within living memory tried, and damn near succeeded, to remove entirely from the face of the earth by murdering every last one of them) is probably not going to have a great deal of confidence in protestations that that's all in the past now, and the Nazi genocide was a horrible aberration.

Certainly it seems to me impossible that anyone who, like me, is a product of the culture of a country that, at various stages in its history was the source of the canonical version of the "blood libel" (the story of "little St Hugh of Lincoln" though he was never canonised), was the first country to expel all Jews from its borders (Edward the First's Edict of Expulsion in 1290, which remained in force until Cromwell permitted Jews to return in 1651) and whose literature has produced two of world literature's great antisemitic character portraits -- Shylock and Fagin -- by two of our great national authors will have failed to pick up some regrettable tropes and assumptions without realising it.

That is why when Jewish friends or colleagues tell me they find something offensive or distressing, I listen to them with great care, and try to learn from what they tell me, and I take great care in how I respond to their criticisms, just as I learned to listen with great care to what my sometime father-in-law, whom I greatly loved and respected, and who had spent some time at Gandhi's ashram until he left out of disagreement with the Mahatma's strict non-violence and his increasing disquiet with what he saw as Gandhi's sexual and social hypocrisy and his treatment of women, had to say when we were discussing the poems and novels of Rudyard Kipling (a writer whom we both greatly admired, by the way, despite what we both recognised as his flaws) and to take great care about how I replied to his points.

This is going on too long, and I'm losing my thread a bit, so I will make, but not try to develop, my final point, which is that I think people on the left in particular seem sometimes to suffer from a Manichean world-view, in which everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy, and if you're a good guy then, by definition, everything you do is good.

If, for example, someone takes the view that western imperialism is bad and anti-imperialist national liberation movements are moral and good, then it's very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everything done and said by, or in support of, those national liberation movements must also be moral and good, and those who disagree are either consciously or unconsciously arguing in bad faith in favour of evil and immorality (and because I'm opposed to imperialism and colonialism, that makes me one of the good guys, too, so -- what a happy accident -- that means pretty much everything I say is moral and good too).

Thus, Western colonialism is bad, especially when practised by the USA, and so is Daesh. President Al-Assad is opposed to both, so he must be one of the good guys, so either he gets a pass on treating his Palestinian population considerably worse than the government of Israel treat theirs (I wouldn't much enjoy living in either Gaza or Yarmouk, for example, but if I had to choose I know which one I'd go for) or any allegations of his gassing his own people (a bad thing, obviously) must clearly be fabrications.

That, obviously, is as dimwitted and self-serving self-delusion as the idea some US churches have that Donald Trump is pretty much God's unwitting instrument whom the Almighty has chosen to put an end to abortion/build a wall/put uppity blacks, Mexicans and women in their place/immanentize the eschaton so pretty much anything he does or says is OK.
 

Kamilah Hauptmann

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I read this sober and serious, and refreshed the screen when done hoping the incomplete part would be edited in.

---




---

Or I might be witnessing the sharpest of British wit.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Yikes.. dunno how that happened..

I meant to write something like
Peace can only come, it seems to me, in this sort of dispute when both sides to the dispute get so tired of it, and of fearing their children's lives will blighted by it as were theirs -- during the "Troubles" so many young men who would otherwise have gone on live perfectly normal and happy lives running a garage or something were either killed or maimed or found themselves serving very long prison sentences for offences they would never have committed had they been born elsewhere -- that they are finally able to sit down with people they hate and try to come to some sort of deal they can both live with and which they can try to sell to their reluctant and mistrustful constituencies.

It cannot be imposed on them by more powerful outsiders, whether those outsiders are supposedly partisan or (far worse) are partisans of one side or another.

Something I heard from British politicians and members of the military at the time was that, since the only way either side could be defeated militarily would involve measures too terrible to contemplate and certainly completely against both British and international law, all we could do was try to keep the two sides from each other's throats until they could come up with a solution for themselves, and I think that is even more true of Israel and the Occupied Territories.
I had to cut and remove and re-arrange things but I don't know how I managed to remove that section. Anyway, that's roughly what I originally said.
 

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I find it difficult to believe that the cartoonist was totally unaware he was, in effect calling Jews dogs.
For one thing, he could have chosen a different and better metaphor.
The guide dog thing? People who use guide dogs want to be guided. 45 has no wish to be guided by anyone other than himself (and Fox News).
He is more like a horse with blinkers on than a blind man. He only see what he wants to see, and his ignorance is willful, not involuntary.
Netanyahu driving a wagon pulled by horse 45 with blinkers on write have been much better.
 

Innula Zenovka

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The more I think about it, I don't think it works as a metaphor at all.

Trump, to my mind, has his own agenda. It might be both cynical and foolish in many ways, and short-sighted, but he's pursuing his own domestic agenda as he sees it (which pretty much means following his impulses, prejudices, and desire to enrich himself) and using Netanyahu to further it, just as Netanyahu is using Trump to further his.

His relationship, to my mind, with Netanyahu is part of a purely transactional set of relationships between various authoritarian thugs and crooks, all out for their own advantages. Trump, Netanyahu, Erdogan, Orbán, Kim, Putin -- they're all a bunch of tough guys running their own fiefdoms like medieval warlords or mafia chieftains. They may well be misleading and trying to manipulate each other, but they're all consciously pursuing their own interests as they perceive them, I think.
 

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Innula Zenovka

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An alarming story about how the Christian minority in a Middle-Eastern country is having a hard time.

Fortunately, though, it's a country with which the current US Administration enjoys a very good relationship, and I am sure that both the President and Vice President will not hesitate to use their good offices to intervene on behalf of their embattled coreligionists.

 
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Innula Zenovka

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This popped up on my twitter feed just now.


I'd heard about him before but the first I'd seen of this guy was when Andrew Neil recently took him to pieces:


OK, the guy is an idiot but I could have accepted that the Neil interview was such a disaster because Schapiro hadn't done his homework and had no idea what Andrew Neil is like. I can quite see that encountering Neil for the first time, in a live interview, must be pretty terrifying and anyone might freeze like a rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming car.

However, here is the same chap in circumstances where he presumably feels more comfortable and he still makes no sense. "A child can't have two fathers because Mothers and Fathers are two separate holidays" is ... err.. nonsense which you would forgive, but would nevertheless want to correct, if it came from quite a young child.

What's next? "Islam must be true because otherwise you wouldn't be able to buy Happy Eid cards at the store?"
 

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HOUSTON (AP) — A former Southern Baptist pastor who supported legislation in Texas that would have criminalized abortions has been arrested on charges of child sex abuse, accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage relative over the course of two years.

Stephen Bratton is accused of subjecting the relative to inappropriate touching that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, according to Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
 

Innula Zenovka

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I am really not sure what to make of this story ... just so much weird and tragic stuff going round.


I am so glad that I was born when I was ... not that I or my friends would have done or said like what he did, but the thought of some of the weird and stupid stuff I and my friends got up to in our various peer groups, as clearly they still do, only now online as well as face to face, and the idea that some of it might come back to haunt me later.. God, it does not bear thinking about, it really doesn't.

It's an unbelievable change -- a real generation gap in that I was born in the 1950s so my formative years were spent in an utterly different social environment from people born some years later. It's as big, if not bigger, than the collapse of Communism in many ways -- I think I read someone recently saying even Orwell would never have predicted that people would willingly pay to put telescreens in their pockets and carry them round.

I'll never understand what it is like for them growing up in what seems to me a completely alien environment, and they'll never understand what it was like growing up in anything else.
 

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I am really not sure what to make of this story ... just so much weird and tragic stuff going round.


I am so glad that I was born when I was ... not that I or my friends would have done or said like what he did, but the thought of some of the weird and stupid stuff I and my friends got up to in our various peer groups, as clearly they still do, only now online as well as face to face, and the idea that some of it might come back to haunt me later.. God, it does not bear thinking about, it really doesn't.

It's an unbelievable change -- a real generation gap in that I was born in the 1950s so my formative years were spent in an utterly different social environment from people born some years later. It's as big, if not bigger, than the collapse of Communism in many ways -- I think I read someone recently saying even Orwell would never have predicted that people would willingly pay to put telescreens in their pockets and carry them round.

I'll never understand what it is like for them growing up in what seems to me a completely alien environment, and they'll never understand what it was like growing up in anything else.
I was born in the late 60s, but that's still old enough to have been able to live my youth without the fear of my acts of stupidity ending up anywhere permanent except the local police blotter. I can't imagine growing up today in a world where everyone has a video camera and internet access. That's a lot of pressure to have to live with.
 

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Hi; I'm not as young as that man there, but I am young enough that things I posted in my high school days are probably still enshrined and publicly available on some archived web page somewhere.

Personally, I never had much problem just not slurring Jews and minorities. It was not some kind of stressful constantly-having-to-catch-myself struggle; all it took was not being casually racist.
 

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Personally, I never had much problem just not slurring Jews and minorities. It was not some kind of stressful constantly-having-to-catch-myself struggle; all it took was not being casually racist.
:qft:

The earliest posts of mine that are actually online (but not easily searchable because Google fucked up their Usenet archive) are from the '80s, and apart from the occasional swear word I don't think there's anything there I have to worry about.
 
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Early sixties here. I was an internet early adopter, but realized what you say online is immortal. Still, I can’t imagine ever saying obvious racist things anywhere. We are failing the education of young people in more ways than one.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Hi; I'm not as young as that man there, but I am young enough that things I posted in my high school days are probably still enshrined and publicly available on some archived web page somewhere.

Personally, I never had much problem just not slurring Jews and minorities. It was not some kind of stressful constantly-having-to-catch-myself struggle; all it took was not being casually racist.
Sure, but can you honestly say that, when you were in your early and mid teens, or even later, while you and your friends were alone together, you never did or said anything absolutely stupid that you don't cringe to remember and might now cause you acute embarrassment if evidence of it were to resurface after all these years and be posted all over Twitter or Facebook?

Doesn't necessarily have to be political at all -- no discussions with friends about buying weed while it was illegal, and no discussions of drunken exploits or mishaps that took place at a friend's party during the weekend, and never had a blazing row with anyone and said things you later regretted? Back when I was a teenager, all that would happen face to face or over the phone, leaving no documentary evidence (unless something went badly wrong and ended up in the school or police archives and records, of course?)?

No teenage discussions, simultaneously earnest and hormone driven, about religion, politics, parents and school, love and hate? No discussions with friends about how much you loved or hated people or institutions and what you'd like to do to them?

Nothing you would prefer not to have raised during an interview for college or for a job?

Really?
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Early sixties here. I was an internet early adopter, but realized what you say online is immortal. Still, I can’t imagine ever saying obvious racist things anywhere. We are failing the education of young people in more ways than one.
You say you "can't imagine ever saying obvious racist things," but that's not really the point I'm trying to make.

I'm not defending this young chap and his friends. I'm simply saying that teens (like people of any age, but even more so) tend to do, and say, things that, in the past, have always remained buried in their teenage years.

Maybe it's just me but I grew up in an environment where I, and all my friends, had a whole range of different personae appropriate to different circumstances and social settings, which we tried to keep well apart. Parents and family saw various versions of me (somewhat edited, in that there were things about me my mother knew but not my father and vice versa), and my friends, school saw other versions, and different friends even more different versions, and there were various moments of high drama and low farce as different social settings and personae collided.

That's all part of being a teenager.

For me and my friends, though, most of the time we could keep all these different roles and social worlds apart, as we struggled to learn the rules of the wider world we were gradually discovering and learning to negotiate, and what happened in private generally stayed there, gradually lost to everyone's memory as time moved on.

Fourteen- or fifteen- year-old me was pretty much an historical figure for seventeen- or eighteen-year-old me, and I would have been as horrified to see her suddenly reappear in my life two or three years later as I would have been to meet a ghost.

That's gone now, though. Telescreens in 1984 were part of a dystopian nightmare. Now we voluntarily carry them round with us all the time, tracking and recording our movements and communications, and using them to conduct -- and thus record for posterity, whether we intend it or not -- so many conversations and social interactions, and all the while pretty much unwittingly pumping out masses of personal data about ourselves that companies and others use -- and sell to each other -- to know us better than we know ourselves.

Heavens, I can remember when the Berlin Wall came down and the full extent to which the security services of their respective countries spied on their citizens and the records they kept -- on paper, of course, in files they were desperately trying to destroy as the regimes fell.

Now, some 30-odd years later, we most of us voluntarily build up a more or less public archive on ourselves than the East German Stasi could never have dreamed of amassing, and which the authorities in some countries can now demand we turn over to them as a condition of entry.

It's a completely different world. I've seen this particularly with the law relating to social media and so on -- here in the UK (and I would imagine in most other places, too) we've had to struggle with applying existing laws on harassment, disorderly behaviour and so on to situations that were undreamed of when the laws were written, with the result that, at least in the UK, people have found themselves sued for libel, or in court for grossly offensive or threatening communications as a result of passing on rumours and stories, or making bad jokes and tasteless remarks, as if they were gossiping with friends after too much to drink rather than broadcasting to a world-wide audience.

Laws that were perfectly reasonable and fit for purpose when they were written, and people communicated face to face or by phone or by letter, are constantly having to be revised and rewritten to take into account texts, social media and so on.

That was my real point, I think -- that the whole environment in which any sort of social transaction now takes place is so different from what it was only 20 or 30 years ago.
 

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You say you "can't imagine ever saying obvious racist things," but that's not really the point I'm trying to make.

I'm not defending this young chap and his friends. I'm simply saying that teens (like people of any age, but even more so) tend to do, and say, things that, in the past, have always remained buried in their teenage years.

Maybe it's just me but I grew up in an environment where I, and all my friends, had a whole range of different personae appropriate to different circumstances and social settings, which we tried to keep well apart. Parents and family saw various versions of me (somewhat edited, in that there were things about me my mother knew but not my father and vice versa), and my friends, school saw other versions, and different friends even more different versions, and there were various moments of high drama and low farce as different social settings and personae collided.

That's all part of being a teenager.

For me and my friends, though, most of the time we could keep all these different roles and social worlds apart, as we struggled to learn the rules of the wider world we were gradually discovering and learning to negotiate, and what happened in private generally stayed there, gradually lost to everyone's memory as time moved on.

Fourteen- or fifteen- year-old me was pretty much an historical figure for seventeen- or eighteen-year-old me, and I would have been as horrified to see her suddenly reappear in my life two or three years later as I would have been to meet a ghost.

That's gone now, though. Telescreens in 1984 were part of a dystopian nightmare. Now we voluntarily carry them round with us all the time, tracking and recording our movements and communications, and using them to conduct -- and thus record for posterity, whether we intend it or not -- so many conversations and social interactions, and all the while pretty much unwittingly pumping out masses of personal data about ourselves that companies and others use -- and sell to each other -- to know us better than we know ourselves.

Heavens, I can remember when the Berlin Wall came down and the full extent to which the security services of their respective countries spied on their citizens and the records they kept -- on paper, of course, in files they were desperately trying to destroy as the regimes fell.

Now, some 30-odd years later, we most of us voluntarily build up a more or less public archive on ourselves than the East German Stasi could never have dreamed of amassing, and which the authorities in some countries can now demand we turn over to them as a condition of entry.

It's a completely different world. I've seen this particularly with the law relating to social media and so on -- here in the UK (and I would imagine in most other places, too) we've had to struggle with applying existing laws on harassment, disorderly behaviour and so on to situations that were undreamed of when the laws were written, with the result that, at least in the UK, people have found themselves sued for libel, or in court for grossly offensive or threatening communications as a result of passing on rumours and stories, or making bad jokes and tasteless remarks, as if they were gossiping with friends after too much to drink rather than broadcasting to a world-wide audience.

Laws that were perfectly reasonable and fit for purpose when they were written, and people communicated face to face or by phone or by letter, are constantly having to be revised and rewritten to take into account texts, social media and so on.

That was my real point, I think -- that the whole environment in which any sort of social transaction now takes place is so different from what it was only 20 or 30 years ago.
I don’t actually disagree with any of this. But the only short-term solution I can think of, is education, because fixing the mess that is the laws about personal data is only going to happen after the hard Right gets replaced in the government and in law enforcement and the intelligence community. That’s going to be a multi-generational effort here, as our courts are getting broken by the Right (really fascists, they’re not conservatives anymore). Parents aren’t always technical enough to warn their children and could use the education themselves. The elderly Trumpian base is especially vulnerable and is constantly getting scammed. They know they should be paranoid, but they don’t understand how to determine who they can trust. So they get ripped off. Everyone who is nontechnical is now the biggest target.
 
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