Thursday, November 30, 2006

Excuse me, your knuckles are dragging

Every once in a while, I check out what John Bambenek has written for the Daily Illini, and every time I regret it. He writes with this bizarre combination of seething anger, pompous self-righteousness, and Freeper-esque zealotry. His letter published in today's DI is no exception. Today he's blathering on about some very odd concept of feminism, one that seems to bear no resemblance to real feminism.

He begins reasonably enough:

Originally, feminism was about changing attitudes, particularly that women are of equal dignity as men. Women can be just as capable to become doctors, lawyers, CEOs or politicians. Far from being merely sperm receptacles, they are people entitled to the full balance of human dignity. The rallying call of these feminists was "love me for my mind, not just my body."

It's hard to disagree with most of that, though I would suggest the origins of feminism largely originated with the radical request of "Hello, may I vote too, please?" However, though I haven't studied the history of the movement in great detail, I don't think feminism was much about "being loved" so much as the idea that women should be allowed to take part in society just as much as men.

Then we find out that feminism has been hijacked by ... those damn, evil, feminists:

Enter groups such as the Feminist Majority at the University of Illinois. The motto of this group and those like it can be described as "love me for my body ... PLEASE!" The slogans they chose to put on their T-shirts revolve around sex toys and genitalia. In psychology this would be called a "fixation."

No, I think in psychology, this would be called a T-shirt. They usually have short, witty, and often slightly provocative sayings on them. Quickly glancing at some available T-shirts at, I found such slogans as, "I reject your reality and substitute my own," "I'm not a gynecologist ... but I'll take a look," and "You say potato ... I say fuck you." Now, these T-shirt slogans and those wearing them are not actually supporting schizophrenia, medical malpractice, or overdoing it with carbs. They're just trying to be funny. It's not a good idea to attempt to analyze a whole movement based on what's printed clothing handed out on a college campus.

It's not even clear what shirts Bambeneck was referring to. He doesn't say. But I did check out the Feminist Majority at UIUC's webpage, and I couldn't find anything about sex toys or genitalia, much to my inner straight man's disappointment. I did, however, find a mission statement saying that they make their "best efforts to inform the student population about the issues related to women's rights and equality in society." I also found information on women's health issues, and links to other sites, at least two of which are dedicated to stopping domestic violence. Links to the sellers of dildos and vibrators? Not a one. Not even a measly French tickler.

Then the gloves come off and the real derangement begins:

Women traditionally have been looked upon as sexual objects. So what do these neofeminists do? ... They've gone one step further from the prostitution of women to preaching harlotry. The difference between a prostitute and a harlot is that the prostitute at least has enough self respect to demand payment for services rendered.

Wow. I can almost see the flecks of foam at the corners of Bambi's mouth now. On a thou-shalt-not-judge scale of 1 to 10, where Preacher Dan is a 5 and Fred Phelps is a 14, that rates about a 7.

Now he gets to what evil, evil feminism has cost us:

It has lead to the rejection of the biggest trait distinctive of women - motherhood.

For you women readers ... and who the hell taught you to read anyway? A waste of perfectly good time that could have been better used teaching you to cook and sew, if you ask me. Anyway, for you women readers we now see what your options in life are:

  1. Madonna.
  2. Whore.

You may pick only one. You can be a raving feminist slut that spreads her legs for any man that comes along, or you can be an innocent chaste virgin that thinks babies are left under cabbage leaves who is gently deflowered on her wedding night to the sound of harpsichord music and the fluttering of angels' wings.

Seriously, this apparent inability of Bambi's to visualize a woman as anything other than the Whore of Babylon or an automated progeny cannon seems positively unhealthy.

(And what's up with this being printed as a "letter," anyway? Has his tenure as a DI columnist ended, or does this have something to do with the fact that the DI suspended all staff-written editorials a few weeks ago for an unstated reason?)

UPDATE: Bambenek himself visited and comments:

Argumentum ad hominem. I win.

First of all, Bambenek doesn't get to call women "sluts" and "harlots" and them complain about ad hominem attacks. It's a rule. There's even a word for that. Hippo-something...

Secondly, mine wasn't even an ad hominem argument. That's when someone ridicules the arguer rather than the argument. I was pointing out, in a biting, witty, and sarcastic manner, that Bambenek's argument was one giant false dilemma. Namely, that the only possible options he presented were that women are all raving whores or vestal virgins. That's it. Nothing in between. I didn't even get around to pointing out the false statement about the Guttmacher statistics (they don't even list "sexual convenience" as one of the reasons women have abortions, 25% do so because of concerns for their health or the health of the fetus). Then there's the fact that his whole letter is a straw man argument that feminism (oh, excuse me, "neo-feminism") tells women to hump anything even slightly pointy. He also vaguley quotes "studies" which I can't seem to find. I did a Google Scholar search for "inner-slut mentality" and came up with no hits. I suspect that, even if he did find some sort of study, it doesn't say what he thinks it says.

Need I even mention how he portrays women as the Guardian of the Temple of Chastity, while men are simply slathering, mindless slaves to their urges that bear no moral responsibility of their own? It's a mild form of the same attitude that forces women to wear the burqua in Middle Eastern countries: men are unable to control themselves when it comes to those "feminine wiles," so it's the women who are to be blamed if they have sex.

UPDATE II: Feministing also has a good slap-down of Bambenek's "argument."

UPDATE III: Bambenek also posted this over at, where there has been a few interesting comments. The first commenter is skeptical asks John to explain what studies he was talking about that inspired his "devastation from the inner-slut mentality" line. John responds with:

How fundamentally unamerican for you to tell me what I can and cannot say. This is America, you don't tell me what I can and can't say, you don't pre-select who gets to talk about issues, and you don't get to stack the deck.

Um, no. Someone asking you to put your money where your mouth is when you spout off about dubious "facts" isn't censorship.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's not easy being purple

Sigh. I had one idea for a blog post, found a better one, then found this. I need more hours in the day.

Last night, I was having a conversation about the past election, and I remembered that, after 2004, there were a number of red and blue maps going around showing how red the country was. Somewhere, someone had made similar maps, by county, but colored them different shades of purple, showing how false the red-vs-blue divide really is. Here are the maps for the 2004 Presidential election.

He also adjusted the map to shrink or enlarge each district based on its population, which makes for a really bizzare looking image, but gives better insight into voting patterns. Looking at that image reinforces why I don't think it's a good idea to eliminate the Electoral College: candidates would basically ignore every place other than the Eastern seaboard, California, Chicago, and Florida.

He's now done the same thing for the 2006 election, for both the House and the Senate. Here's the image for the House:

One thing that's surprising about this image is how there are pockets of blue running through the South (and there are similar pockets of purple for the 2004 Presidential election). A commenter elsewhere claims that these are the counties with largely black populations, and they tend to vote Democratic, while Southern whites are overwhelmingly Republican.

The West looks incredibly red, until you realize that states like Montana are only a single district because they have about 3 people living there. He does another chart that adjusts all the counties so they have the same area (since all districts elect exactly one Representative), and those states are less imposing.

Via Pam's House Blend.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tased and confused

I assume everyone has seen the video of the UCLA student getting Tasered multiple times, even after he's been fully incapacitated. It's difficult to watch, to say the least; it took me three days to make myself go past the first minute or so. In case you're not the blog addict I am, a UCLA student forgot his ID, became unruly when either asked for it or was asked to leave, the campus police came, and as he was leaving the library Tased him. Not just once, but multiple times, demanding he stand up and comply with their instructions.

A Taser fires and electrical shock which is extremely painful, and robs you of the ability to control your body. From what I've been able to find online, recovery from a single Taser strike varies with the individual, but can take up to several minutes. So these cops demanding he stand after multiple strikes were being unreasonable.

What I find really disturbing is their demands that he "stand up or be Tased again." The cops are using it as a form of punishment and discipline, which is not appropriate for a potentially lethal weapon. There's not a lot online but police policy in Hawaii states:

...that the drive stun feature is used "where an officer or someone else is physically confronted, serious bodily injury is imminent and no other alternative exists except for the use of the drive stun."

Obviously, an incapacitated student poses little threat to several security officers.

The thing that really disturbs me is that, toward the end of the video, some of the crowd of students are asking the campus cops for their badge numbers. One of the cops tells a student to stand to the side "or you'll get Tased too."

UCLA appears to be in damage-control mode, rather than ensure-the-safety-of-students mode. From Talking Points Memo:

...the officers involved have not even been put on administrative leave pending completion of the internal and external reviews of the incident. Why not? It's not clear from the article.

But to hear UCLA's acting chancellor talk, it looks like the university is managing the perception of a problem rather than the problem itself: "Norman Abrams said he ordered the probe after the university received numerous calls and e-mails from parents and alumni raising concerns about the officers' actions during the videotaped Tuesday night arrest, which has been widely seen on TV news and the YouTube website."

The video itself apparently didn't prompt an outside review, but concerns from alum (i.e., donors) and parents did. Nice.

One thing this incident shows is the power of the Internet. A student with a cameraphone, YouTube, and the blogosphere have given this story nationwide attention, when, only a few years ago, it might have made only the local newspaper or might possibly have been completely ignored.

Archpundit and Americablog have more.

Update: It looks like the campus cops in this case were using the Taser in "drive stun" mode. That may be less incapacitating than the mode where the Taser shoots too electrodes into the skin of the target. Again, there's not much online, but this was reported in the case of a Florida police department:

A recent amendment to the DeLand Police Department's Taser policy is clearer, saying that the "drive-stun" mode can be used only under exceptional circumstances

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Only a few months left to protect traditional marriage

Now that we only have a few months left with a Republican-controlled Congress, they need to act now to protect traditional marriage. Namely, Britney and K-Fed's. Jon Swift (not dead, as previously reported) says that it needs to be done for the sake of the children:

One of the arguments opponents of gay marriage make is that every child needs exactly one mother and one father to grow up to be a healthy adult. Isn't it clear that Britney's and K-Fed's children also need a mother and a father? They need a mother who can provide them with all of the material goods they require, which their father can't provide, and they need a father who can pick them up without dropping them. I think it is clear that neither of them alone can provide the care essential to the well-being of these children.

If Republicans really want to protect the institution of marriage, and were not simply trying to ban gay marriage to use it as a wedge issue in the campaign, then they should prove their dedication to this cause by introducing the Defense of Britney's Marriage Act as the first order of business in the lame-duck session of Congress and President Bush should sign it.

Please, won't someone think of the children?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Maybe not so tradtional, after all

Stephanie Coontz has an editorial in todays New York Times about how our fixation on marriage as a deep and overriding emotional bond may be misplaced. She makes the argument that it is not the historical view of marriage, and that it may be costing us other relationships, traditionally viewed as more important than one with a spouse:

Until 100 years ago, most societies agreed that it was dangerously antisocial, even pathologically self-absorbed, to elevate marital affection and nuclear-family ties above commitments to neighbors, extended kin, civic duty and religion.

Weirdly, the change in our view of marriage that began in the 1950s may actually be detrimental to society as a whole:

By the early 20th century, though, the sea change in the culture wrought by the industrial economy had loosened social obligations to neighbors and kin, giving rise to the idea that individuals could meet their deepest needs only through romantic love, culminating in marriage. Under the influence of Freudianism, society began to view intense same-sex ties with suspicion and people were urged to reject the emotional claims of friends and relatives who might compete with a spouse for time and affection.

The right-wings fetishization of "traditional" marriage isn't about returning to some historically accurate version of a bond that has been changed by the homosexual activists. If that were the case, they'd be arguing in favor of arranged marriages, which were the standard in the Western world for thousands of years, and exist in more traditional cultures to this day. Rather, it's about being holier-than-thou.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Shoot 'em if they can't take a joke

When I heard the "controversy" surrounding Kerry's recent botched joke, and how Republicans were demanding he apologize for "insulting the troops," it pissed me off. It is not possible for any reasonable person to listen to what Kerry was saying and think he was talking about the troops. Remember, he used to be one. He's actually seen combat, unlike Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice, and of course, George W. Bush. They know that. So all the Republican shock and outrage is just a cheap fucking political stunt. Crocodile tears. Republican tears.

The most frustrating thing is that, the moment that I heard about this whole nonsense, the very first thing that came to mind was George W. Bush's joking a few months ago about not finding the WMDs in Iraq. Bush actually mocked the very reason he has sent those 3000+ men and women to die in Iraq, yet no demands for his apology are forthcoming.

Here's his mockery:

Somehow we've entered a time when those in power make light of those they've sent to die, and feign outrage against their opponents, who stood up and fought when called.

Tomorrow, please vote.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sexual harassment is illegal!

I've never tried posting a Google Video, um, video here, but this one cracked me up so much I have to try. I think I may have ruptured something.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's hard to argue with this

Billy writes:

I pay my fucking taxes, I have job, I don’t sponge off the Government, I contribute to society and yet I am not allowed to have a recognized union that affords me rights equal to my, so called, heterosexual counterparts. I don’t ask that I be allowed to perform my ceremony in a Church that does not agree with it. I don’t want special treatment. I just want the chance to live my life as it was handed to me without someone else’s religious beliefs getting in the way.

Those don't sound like "special rights" to me at all.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I go out of town for a couple of days, and it's revealed that a major evangelical, gay-bashing minister is a screaming queen. I miss all the good stuff.