How to be Bill-free

It was announced recently that a lawyer in Madrid, Spain prepared a case to seek criminal investigation into violations of international law by six former high-level Bush administration officials.

No, not Dick Cheney (more on that later), but former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (the guy who “can’t recall remembering” much of anything), former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo (the guy who wrote the legal memos stating that the president had the authority to essentially ignore the Geneva Conventions), another former Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee (Yoo’s former boss), former Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff and legal adviser David Addington, former Department of Defense counsel William Haynes, and former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith.

The charges against these folks are based on the Geneva Conventions and the 1984 Convention Against Torture. The 145 signing countries have the authority—and, some would argue, the obligation—to investigate torture cases. Of course the stakes are somewhat higher when a country’s own citizens have been abused, as five Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo Bay were.

Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and the others are said to have violated international laws by providing the legal framework (read: ass-covering) for torture, including waterboarding.

The National Court in Madrid sent the case for review by none other than Baltasar Garzon—the judge who ordered the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (who was nabbed in Britain, but never stood trial).

Spain is the first country to take seemingly serious action on this, but certainly not the first to be talking about it. Canadian lawyers got in on the act, and there were hopes that they would pounce on Bush himself when he made an appearance here in March. But it turned out to be just talk. Or at least much more complicated than simply slapping the cuffs on him and dragging him away.

Though prosecutions in cases like this are extremely rare, if Spain were successful in this, it could clear a direct path to Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush.

Enter Bill O’Reilly.

An endless source of amusement, O’Reilly has threatened Spain, saying the following in his Fox “News” television show:

“Here’s the deal, Spain—if this goes forward, you’ll be insulting America. Unless this action is condemned by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, then I am not going to that country.”

Shortly after this aired, Spain released a statement in response:

“Oooooh, we’re scared.”

The following countries have since hurriedly announced that they too would be seeking criminal prosecutions against former Bush administration officials:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia

and

  • Zimbabwe

…so far.

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Slippery slope made of shit

Newshounds is a great web site. Their tag line is: “We watch Fox News so you don’t have to.”

It’s perfect for me because even though I know some people watch Fox “News” from time to time just for a laugh, I can’t do it. It (almost literally) makes my blood boil. I’d love to strap on a blood pressure machine and take some measurements while watching Fox “News.” At any rate, I have to settle for reading about their inanity and then seeking out clips on YouTube and such.

Newshounds, though, cuts my workload down quite a bit because they usually post the videos right there for me! I don’t envy them having to watch Fox “News” and I thank them for doing it so I don’t have to.

Today this little tidbit struck me. On his show, Bill O’Reilly—railing against equal marriage once again—said this:

“Remember, ladies and gentlemen, if gay marriage is okay then you’re going to have all marriages okay. You can’t say gays can marry but triads can’t, or polygamists can’t, or marrying your cousin [sic]. Under equal protection, it’s everybody can do whatever they want. You can’t say we’re just going to get one group in.”

There aren’t enough arghs and blergs in the world to capture how I feel about this.

Okay, first of all, I could just say this and end it right now: Heterosexuals are a group. Therefore, based on O’Reilly’s logic that you can’t just let “one group in,” then no one should be able to get married. “Thankfully straights can’t get married, because if they could then everyone would want to get married. Phew!”

I love how that logic seems perfectly…logical to him, but the same argument for equal marriage does not: You can’t say heterosexuals can marry but homosexuals can’t.

A big derrrr to that one.

Sadly this debate keeps going on and on and on, as if there is legitimately anything to debate. I can’t wrap my mind around it. Letting two consenting adults get married is NOT in any way equivalent to polygamy, pedophilia, or bestiality.

This “slippery slope” argument is often used by bigots, hatemongers, and anti-equal marriage crusaders to oppose equal human rights. It’s absurd. These slippery-slopers say, “If we let two consenting adults of the same sex marry, what’s next? People will want to marry their children, or their dog!”

I wish I could laugh, but sadly these arguments sometimes work on people. It’s a classic scare tactic used by fearmongers and hatemongers.

I also oppose this argument from proponents of equal marriage: “What the hell difference does it make who gets married? People should be able to marry whomever they want! I should be able to marry a chicken or this chair if I want to!”

No.

When people use arguments like this to support equal rights, they instead embolden the enemies of equal rights. It lends credence to ridiculous arguments. No, we should not be able to marry a chicken. Nor a child. Nor a chair. That’s absurd, and to even put it in the same category as a woman marrying a woman or a man marrying a man ridicules and weakens the real and logical arguments for equal marriage.

Marriage between two consenting adults of the same sex should not and must not be lumped in with things like bestiality, pedophilia, and whatever the hell it would be called if people could marry inanimate objects. There is the consensual agreement and commitment between two adults, and then there’s everything else. Equal marriage does not fall into the “everything else” category.

The bigots are now calling their campaign “defense of marriage,” as if equal marriage will somehow endanger the oh-so-stellar reputation of this pristine institution that has a 40% divorce rate.

(By the way, for those religious folks who claim that the bible dictates that homosexuality is wrong, and therefore it is wrong: The bible condemns divorce waaaaay more than it condemns homosexuality. And the argument that it condemns homosexuality at all is specious at best. Oh, and the bible also condemns worshipping false idols, like all those little Jesus and Mary statues and pictures you’ve got in your house, around your neck, or on your car’s dashboard. And it condemns gambling. And owning stuff. It also condemns the observance of special days, like Christmas and Easter and Good Friday and…. )

Let’s get real here and address the fears these scare tactics are meant to stir. Netherlands was the first country to federally legalize same-sex marriage, in 2001. I think Netherlands is still a country, eight years on, and that it hasn’t fallen into the sea. Belgium followed, in 2003, legalizing same-sex marriage country-wide and it didn’t melt into a seething lava pit of sin. Canada (yay!) and Spain were the third and fourth countries, respectively, to federally legalize same-sex marriage, in June 2005.

I live in Canada. It’s been four years. So far I have personally witnessed the happy weddings and marriages of a few homosexual couples, as well as those of a few heterosexual couples. What? Did I just say heterosexual marriages? Yes I did. And no, I do not jest. It was a surprise to all, but allowing same-sex marriage did not cause the institution of marriage to instantly implode.

South Africa was the fifth country (2005) and Norway the sixth (2008) to legalize same-sex marriage. Yes, apartheid South Africa.

So can everyone please just shut the fuck up about gay marriage ruining whatever-the-hell? “It will ruin the institution of marriage!” “It will ruin families!” “It will ruin children!”

You know what’s ruining the institution of marriage? You, when you watch The Bachelor, get quickly and drunkenly married in Las Vegas, or abuse your wife.

You know what’s ruining children? You and your hatemongering. Like it or not, gay exists. A significant portion of the population is gay. Someone you love is gay. One (or more) of your children may be gay. A child is born gay. If you believe such things, then god/the gods made her that way. She is told all her life that she is wrong, sick, bad, sinful, distasteful, dangerous, gross, and that she is not afforded protection under the law or equal human rights. She is told these things by you. Do you know that the highest suicide rate among teenagers is among gay teenagers? Yeah, that’s all on you. Have fun living with that.

This argument is always used whenever people fear something, even if they fear it for no legitimate reason. Oh, think of what it will do to families! The institution of marriage! The children! Won’t somebody think of the children!?!?

Families will not crumble if two consenting adults are allowed to get married. Society will not crumble if two consenting adults are allowed to get married. The institution of marriage will not crumble if two consenting adults are allowed to get married. And children will not suffer if their parents are allowed to be married.

In fact, two consenting adults are already allowed to get married all over the world—as long as they’re straight. If they happen to be infected with “the gay” then they can only get married in Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, and Norway. For now.

Secondly, can we please start focussing on things that actually do hurt society? How about rape? We could start with priests raping children—that’s a good place to start if you care about the children. What about “deadbeat dads” who don’t pay child support, thus stigmatizing and sending into poverty single-parent families? There are a few wars going on somewhere I think, not to mention some genocides that could use our attention. Homelessness? Addiction? Poverty? Hey, how about the fact that we’re killing the earth, which is already overpopulated and unable to sustain its population? Human trafficking. Child labour/slavery/abuse.

There. I’ve just given you anti-equal marriage crusaders plenty of things you can do to fill your time rather than opposing two consenting adults committing to one another in a loving and legal way, thus enjoying all of the rights they are entitled to as human beings.

Go fight those wars because this is not a war. And even if you think it is, you’ve already lost anyway. Society is always ahead of the law when it comes to civil rights; it’s just a matter of time now before the law catches up in most of the world. So save your breath, your time, your energy, and some trees, and stop protesting equal marriage.

Use your resources for something important. If you really care about children, then go save a child from a real enemy right now—an abusive parent, a pedophile priest, slavery, poverty, gang violence, illiteracy…. Go. Go now.

For further reading on the “slippery slope” argument: http://www.slate.com/id/2100824/.

It was not a fight, it was an attack

To add yet another blog post to the growing archive of blog posts/news stories about the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident makes me feel kind of…weary. But yesterday I watched something that made my blood boil and I just can’t contain my ire.

Sean “Diddy” Combs (previously Diddy, previously P. Diddy, previously Puff Daddy) was on The Ellen Degeneres Show. To Ellen’s credit, she brought up the issue of Combs giving Chris Brown sanctuary in his Miama house and facilitating the “reunion” of Brown and Rihanna. There are reports and photos of Chris Brown jet-skiing as if enjoying a vacation, which has enraged a lot of people.

Ellen tried to walk the eggshell-strewn fine line between wanting to express her outrage and not wanting to rock the boat. Gotta be nice!

On what may arguably be the most popular daytime talk show in the U.S., one of the (arguably) most famous hip-hop stars not only defended his friend, but completely downplayed the gravity and brutality of domestic violence.

You can watch the video here (the discussion begins at about 4:30).

First, I take issue with Ellen’s characterization of Chris Brown as “a guy who hit a girl.” Sigh. Chris Brown beat Rihanna. But I am happy that Ellen said, “I don’t want any girl out there thinking it’s okay to go back to a guy who hit her.” Well said.

Secondly, I take issue with almost all of what Combs said:

  • “I don’t cast a stone.”
  • “It was a dark time for them.”
  • “…we know sometimes relationships get ugly.”
  • “You wasn’t in that car [sic]. I wasn’t in that car. It isn’t right for him to put his hands on her or her to put her hands on him. We don’t know what the problem is.”

Let’s take them one at a time. Oh, but before I do: allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, allegedly. There, that should do it. Technically Brown has not been convicted, so everything stated herein about the “alleged” attack is only alleged. He has, however, apologized and announced that he is seeking counselling (more on that later), so I used the word “allegedly” loosely.

Okay. “I don’t cast stones.” So Diddy won’t place blame or make judgments on a man who beat his girlfriend to a bloody pulp and choked her almost to the point of unconsciousness. Kudos for not casting stones! You know, sometimes it’s okay to cast stones. I am not a perfect person, but I can certainly hold people to account when they commit grievous injustices against others.

“It was a dark time for them” and “relationships get ugly.” Wow! Way to underplay it. May as well have said, “They hit a bumpy patch.”

“It isn’t right for him to put his hands on her or her to put her hands on him. We don’t know what the problem is.” I don’t even know what to say about this. There is nothing in the police report about Rihanna “putting her hands on him” except in self-defense, but even so, we’re talking about domestic abuse here. It’s not about what the “problem” was, who started the argument, or what they were arguing about, because it wasn’t an argument—it was a man beating on a women half his size!

The incident may have began as an argument, but it ceased to be as soon as Chris Brown started beating on Rihanna, leaving her with wounds requiring medical attention. Nor was this a “fight.” A fight is between two people, fairly evenly matched, both hitting each other. One person wailing on another is not a fight, it’s an attack. If a woman is raped or beaten up by a stranger twice her size, would that be a “fight” as well? Would we be talking about what she did to “provoke” it? (Well, if you’re Bill O’Reilly you probably would, since he thinks women who dress provocatively and drink alcohol are inviting rape.)

At this point, lest you think I’m being one-sided or inflammatory, I invite you to read the LAPD officer’s affidavit about the incident.  Here, I’ll highlight some of it for you:

  • “When he could not force her to exit [the car], he took his right hand and shoved her head against the passenger window of the vehicle causing an approximate one inch raised circular contusion”
  • “…he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused [Rihanna’s] mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.”
  • “Brown looked at [her] and stated, ‘I’m going to beat the shit out of you when we get home! You wait and see!'”
  • Brown said, “Now I’m really going to kill you!”
  • Rihanna placed “her elbows and face near her lap in attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches being levied upon her by Brown.”
  • Brown “pulled [Rihanna] close to him and bit her on her left ear.”
  • “Brown did not know what she did with the key and began punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to [Rihanna’s] left and right carotid arteries causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.”
  • “Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers….”

Does that sound like a fight to you?

Not only did Brown pummel Rihanna with his fists, choke her, bite her, and threaten her life, he did it while driving, further endangering her life and the lives of anyone else on that road.

And have you seen the leaked photo of her facial injuries?

Stars with the reach and influence of Sean Combs and Kanye West (who has characterized what Brown did as a “mistake” and asked folks to “give him a break”) owe it to their adolescent and teen fans to speak truthfully about the horrors of domestic violence. When people discuss this case as a “fight,” or argue about whether it was “provoked,” or characterize it as a “mistake,” they unforgivably downplay domestic abuse.

A mistake is stepping on your cat’s tail or forgetting to pay a bill. Mistakes can even be tragic, like accidentally hitting someone with your car. But mistakes are accidents. You don’t “accidentally” put someone in a headlock nearly choking them to death. That is a choice, not an accident. This was an attack, not a fight.

Domestic abuse is about power. One partner, predominantly the male in a heterosexual couple (85% to 95% of victims are female), exerts control over his partner by dominating, intimidating, and physically and emotionally attacking her. He also retains his power by instilling fear and increasing his partner’s dependency on him (financial or emotional, or both).

Sadly, it’s textbook how the cycle of domestic abuse occurs, and Chris Brown’s “apology” would be right there on the first page. The abuser will always apologize, but that hardly ever means that the abuse won’t happen again. Rihanna told the police that this wasn’t the first time Brown hit her and that the attacks have been escalating. He probably apologized after each one, swearing it would never happen again. But sorry is not enough.

Now there are rumours that Rihanna is getting back together with Brown, or at least considering it. Which leads us to this question: Why do women stay in abusive relationships? Obviously it’s not because they want to be beaten again. It’s a complicated and complex series of reasons:

  • She may believe her partner when he says it will never happen again, that this time it will be different.
  • She is trapped, literally fearing for her life and/or the lives of her children, other family members, or pets.
  • She is dependent, either financially or emotionally. Emotionally, she may feel that he is the only one who loves and “gets” her, that she’ll never meet someone else who will love her, and that she loves him and can’t live without him.
  • She has little self-esteem, thinking that she doesn’t deserve any better (or, as I mentioned above, that she can’t do any better).
  • She feels guilty. Abusers will often convince the victim that she is to blame (You know how I get! Why did you provoke me?) and it’s easy to buy into that (Why would this person who loves me hurt me? I must have done something wrong!).
  • More guilt (I’m all he has in the world, I’m the only one who understands him, I can’t leave him all alone to take care of himself, I don’t want people to view him as a bad person, etc.)
  • Shame. Women feel that they cannot “come out of the closet” about domestic abuse without being ostracized.
  • Blame. While the victim is busy blaming herself, society is joining right in with the blame-the-victim game, much like what is happening now with Rihanna. This makes it even harder for women to leave abusive relationships and get help.

Essentially, when a man not only exerts power over you but takes your own power away, and society acts as though you relinquished it, it’s the perfect storm for remaining in an abusive relationship.

Chris Brown is apparently seeking “counseling” from his mother and his pastor. Sorry, bucko—that ain’t gonna cut it. You have serious, deep problems and you need serious help. See a Psychiatrist and/or Psychologist and get some real, intensive therapy. This is about more than controlling your anger; this is about how you view women, relationships, and love. This is deeply imbedded in your brain and requires more help than your mommy can offer.

For any young people who may be involved in a violent relationship, please get out. And stay out. Don’t look at this media storm about Chris Brown and Rihanna and come to any other conclusion than this: There is never, ever a good reason or excuse to beat anyone up. Visit this web site for help: http://www.breakthecycle.org/.

From the American Institute on Domestic Violence: 5.3 million women are abused each year; 1,232 women are killed by an intimate partner every year; domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women; women are more likely to be attacked by someone they know rather than by a stranger.

Here is a statistics packet by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence for the U.S. from 2002.

More celebrity fun

It’s truly a glorious thing to behold, Christian Bale’s complete meltdown on the set of his latest film shoot.

Turns out the American Psycho is really an Australian psycho.

Turns out the American Psycho is really a Welsh psycho.

Have you heard it yet? Did you click the link? Click it. Listen. I’ll wait.

Celebrity flip-outs are funny. How about the director of I Heart Huckabees losing it on Lily Tomlin? Or Bill O’Reilly acting like the dick he is? What a dick.

The thing that makes it funny isn’t that these people got so angry they lost their shit. No, the thing that makes them funny is the context. Christian Bale so lost his shit, you would have thought the fate of the world were at stake.

These people are actors, directors, tabloid TV show hosts. They’re not heads of state, surgeons, or judges. They make art and entertainment. As a huge consumer of art and entertainment, I am not belittling its cultural importance. Some art can even have a great impact. Take for example a great message film that changes people’s perceptions, making them a little less racist or homophobic.

But at the end of the day, these people are still actors. They get paid enormous sums of money—more than teachers, nurses, law enforcement officials, and even most doctors and politicians—to play make believe, give interviews, and get all dressed up to receive awards. I’m sorry Christian Bale, but your job is just not weighty enough to justify this four-minute-long, seething, foaming-at-the-mouth, curse-laden tirade. You have issues.

Someone walked past your eye line, out of the scene, behind the actor you were talking to, thereby breaking your concentration? WAH! Jesus H, man! A simple, “Hey, buddy, could you please not do that? It’s really hard to stay in the moment in this scene if you’re walking through my eye line” would have sufficed. Really, “I’m gonna fucking kick your ass” was a tad much.

You are not a very important person who does very important things, nor are you a person who was wronged deplorably. If the dude who walked through your eye line had perhaps instead accidentally pushed the “release the nuclear weapons” button on your desk, then maybe your tirade would have been justified. If the dude who walked through your eye line had, rather, killed your child in surgery because he was drunk or high, then maybe your tirade would have been justified. If the dude who walked through your eye line had sent you to prison for twenty years only to discover DNA evidence proving your innocence, then maybe your tirade would have been justified. But if the dude who walked through your eye line simply walked through your eye line, then your tirade is certainly not justified.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, GET OVER YOURSELF!

You’re a dick.

And your Batman voice was stupid!!!