November 27, 2003
Don't Let The Turkeys Get You Down
Cue up the mawkish holiday music.
Thanksgiving would not be complete without tales such as these.
What doesn't make it to the sink ends up clogging the toilet. One plumber interviewed remembered when a kid flushed his dad's Tommy Hilfiger briefs. I bet if the family owned a toilet Dave Barry likes (one that can flush a sheep), it would not have clogged.
If an exploding turkey doesn't get you, the sunspots will.
Image posted at Politics in the Zeros. (Scroll down.)
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!
Redux: Artwork That Made The News
I believe that it is occasionally useful to use the Way-Back Machine in viewing a past event so that I may see the full, ugly meaning behind its original intent. The "blood libel" cartoon took me back to an old post about how a particular work of art had been tarnished by the Bush administration.
Remember how the Bush administration wanted to cover Picasso's Guernica so that the frightening imagery would not interfere with Colin Powell's war-mongering? The full impact of that ugly incident is so obvious now, with the realization of just how much Bush, the hawks, and the neo-cons have conned this country into starting an unnecessary and costly war. That war has been costly in every respect -- costly to the American economy, costly to American ideals, and costly in the loss of lives on all sides.
I had received an e-mail from a colleague who lamented the poor representation of women in the audience during Powell's pro-war speech, which was scheduled to be held in front of the painting. She did not see women on the network screens. Or in the background around Powell. Or in the audience as the camera panned the room.
It may be true that live women were not well represented. However, important women were there. They were made not of flesh and blood, but of a palette of pale blue oils. Their voices became louder because the Bush Administration had ordered that their home, Picasso's Guernica, be covered with a blue curtain so their cries and anguish would not interfere with Powell's warmongering. Draping Guernica with a curtain called attention to its content, and in doing so, called attention to the Bush Administration's imperialistic demand to invade Iraq. Such a violent juxtaposition did more to express anti-war sentiment than the editorials against war that have been printed since Powell had spoken. As was stated in one of many articles I read on the subject, it wouldn't do for Powell to promote war with a screaming woman holding her dead baby behind him.
The war had already begun before Powell took to the stand. The war remains ongoing today, despite Bush's grandstanding beneath a banner proclaiming "Mission: Accomplished" aboard the U. S. S. Abraham Lincoln.
How along ago was that? How many lives have been lost since the big battles were officially declared over? How many more will be lost before we drag ourselves out of the quagmire?
When will the lies stop? I think it will take getting Bush and his cronies out of office to get this country back on track.
"Blood Libel" Cartoon Wins First Prize In Competition
Almost a year ago, a political cartoon by Dave Brown that depicted Ariel Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby generated much heat in the blogosphere. Diana from Letter from Gotham was so offended she complained to The Independent, which printed the cartoon. Ampersand wrote that the cartoon drew on the old "Jews eat gentile children" blood libel myth. The blood libel myth is better known in Europe than it is in the U. S. He says that it is "on a par with an American newspaper editor printing a cartoon showing Colin Powell raping white women. It's not just tasteless; it's drawing on a specific, deeply-felt cultural image of bigotry. And it draws on that racist imagery regardless of intent." Amp had more to say after The Independent defended itself against anti-semitism charges.
Andrew Sullivan has just learned that "that disgusting cartoon" has just won first prize in the British Political Cartoon Society's annual competition.
If there was a "bad taste" award, the cartoon and the award would tie for first place. The cartoon first appeared on Holocaust Memorial Day. It won the award shortly after the bombing of synogogues in Turkey. Such timing is insulting to the Jewish people.
Haaretz reported that "in his acceptance speech, Brown thanked the Israeli Embassy for its angry reaction to the cartoon, which he said had contributed greatly to its publicity."
The BPCS comments board is full of angry posts from people who are offended by that cartoon. A supporter of the award wrote that ""Zionism, not cartoons, are the main cause of antisemitism in the world today." Quickly following that comment was this response: "Antizionism is. Zionism is the main cause of Jewish freedom from antisemites. Cartoons and comical antisemites, if they disseminate such blatant classical Jew hate disinformation - and this was published amid the monumental grave error in newspapers' reporting of the battle in Jenin - should not be rewarded. The decision is either an antisemitic celebration or pathetically shortsighted, and serious apologies are owed."
There is more commentary at the BPCS's message board area.
I had written about this cartoon and the charges of anti-semitism when it was first printed. I did not think that Brown had meant for the cartoon to be anti-semitic, but I believed that he had not taken responsibility for not being aware of the full impact his cartoon would have.
The main point of his cartoon rested on the viewers ability to recognize Goya's Saturn Devouring One Of His Children. If the viewer was not aware of that painting, Brown's meaning would have been lost.
I recognized it immediately. Brown depicted Ariel Sharon as a savage, child-eating monster. An explanation of the painting may help to explain Brown's perspective. Goya began his career sucking up to Spanish aristocrats as court painter. He, like most painters of the time, created lovely portraits that depicted aristocrats in the favorable manner they preferred. He ended his career with horrifying depictions of the brutality of war and disgust with the same Spanish aristocracy he had once served. Saturn Devouring One Of His Children is a scathing commentary about the corruption of a political regime that would sooner devour its own children than see its power fall. I believe that Brown's cartoon may have been a reference to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, in particular Ariel Sharon's bombing of Gaza. This may be a stretch, but I believe it may have also referred to police investigations of "allegations of bribery, payoffs and other corruption during the the [Likud] party's selection process for candidates for parliament." This scandal had diverted attention away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I understand why Brown had drawn upon this particular painting. However, regardless of his intent, the cartoon is overpowered by the hateful imagery of "blood libel." Brown may have been unaware of the "blood libel" myth. He may have been unaware of how that myth would affect subjective interpretation of his cartoon. Subjective intent is as important to art as the original intent of the artist. The way I see it, his cartoon was not as effective as it could have been. Viewers unaware of Goya would miss the point. Brown's lack of awareness of "blood libel" diluted the intent and effect of his cartoon. I did not find it to be anti-semitic in its original intent. Subjective intent, however, is another story.
It should also be brought to everyone's attention that the cartoon appeared on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Here are some old links related to that cartoon the charges of anti-semitism it had generated, and an explanation of "blood libel": The Independent responded to the anti-semitism charges. defended his cartoon. Another commentary, citing the use of "blood libel."
November 25, 2003
A Collection of Interesting Links
Posting will be scarce for the next week due to the holidays. In the meantime, here are some posts and articles that caught my attention.
Gee, what a dad.
November 22, 2003
A Pedophile Supporter on Michael Jackson
This is the only post I'm going to make related to that sordid business, and it isn't about Jackson. It's about pedophilia. This old Page Six story included statements by Ralph Underwager on behalf of Michael Jackson.
"There's no such thing as a classic profile. They made a completely foolish and illogical error," says Dr. Ralph Underwager, a Minneapolis psychiatrist who has treated pedophiles and victims of incest since 1953. Jackson, he believes, "got nailed" because of "misconceptions like these that have been allowed to parade as fact in an era of hysteria." In truth, as a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study shows, many child-abuse allegations -- 48 percent of those filed in 1990 -- proved to be unfounded.
Ralph Underwager is part of the movement that seeks to "normalize" pedophilia as well as the movement that claims that false allegations of child abuse and domestic violence are rampant. One way the latter movement does this is to lump all unproven allegations (such as that 48% Underwager mentions above) into the "unfounded" category, giving the impression that the people who made the allegations were lying. Child abuse is difficult to prove. Not having sufficient evidence that abuse had taken place does not mean that the person who made the allegation, such as a mother protecting her child or the child him or herself, was lying. Regarding the former movement, Underwager stepped down from the board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation due to statements such as these that he made in support of pedophilia for the Dutch pedophile magazine, Paidika:
"Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also a theologian and as a theologian, I believe it is God's will that there be closeness and intimacy, unity of the flesh, between people. A paedophile can say: "This closeness is possible for me within the choices that I've made."
Paedophiles are too defensive. They go around saying, "You people out there are saying that what I choose is bad, that it's no good. You're putting me in prison, you're doing all these terrible things to me. I have to define my love as being in some way or other illicit." What I think is that paedophiles can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and love is what they choose. With boldness, they can say, "I believe this is in fact part of God's will." They have the right to make these statements for themselves as personal choices. Now whether or not they can persuade other people they are right is another matter (laughs)."
"Given this schizophrenia and these hysterical attitudes about childhood sexuality, it's going to be difficult for paedophiles to appear more positive, to start saying they're not exploiters of children, that they love children, the sexual part included, even if it's a minor part. If they made such statements, they would be arrested."
It's best to look upon Ralph Underwager's claims of a child sexual abuse "witch hunt" with a skeptical eye.
The last time Jackson's alleged pedophilic activities made the news, I had posted about the movement to normalize pedophilia on my old blog. Click on the link below to read the rest of this post, which includes my old post in its entirety, plus some additional news.
Michael Jackson drove the last nail into his career's coffin when he admitted to British journalist Martin Bashir that "he coaxed young boys to sleep in his bed." Ten years ago, Jackson settled out of court when he was accused of molesting another boy. He also admitted to sleeping with several boys at the same time, adding "it's what the whole world should do." He says that no sexual intercourse took place during these sleepovers. Jackson, 44, claims he has formed a "close friendship" with a 12-year old boy named Gavin, who has cancer. He asks "Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone. It's a beautiful thing. It's very right, it's very loving. Because what's wrong with sharing a love?"
Are you squirming yet? Here's more:
Jackson defended his desire to sleep in close proximity with young boys, under persistent questioning from Bashir.
He described the practice as "very charming, very sweet" and recommended that Bashir sleep in the same bed as friends of his own children. He also claimed that children like to be touched and said he would kill himself if he could not be close to them.
Gavin, the 12-year-old boy at the centre of the fresh "sleepover" claims, said he met Jackson two years ago, after cancer was diagnosed. He began sleeping overnight at the 44-year-old singer's Neverland ranch with his brother and sister.
On one occasion, the boy asked to sleep in Jackson's bedroom: "I was like 'Michael, you can sleep in the bed', and he was like 'no, no, you sleep on the bed', and I was like 'no, no, no, you sleep on the bed' and then he said 'look if you love me you'll sleep in the bed'. I was like 'Oh man'. So I finally slept on the bed. But it was fun that night." Jackson said he slept on the floor and did not touch the boy.
Red lights flashed all over the place when I read that. Jackson's talk about "love" and "closeness" and "children like to be touched" is very similar to statements made by people who have spoken out in support of normalizing pedophilia. The popular depiction of the pedophile as a creepy guy in a trenchcoat who lures young children into gas station restrooms is a stereotype. Rather, pedophilia is being presented as a valid "choice" regarding the expression of "love."
[Quotes by Underwager and Wakefield deleted. They are reproduced at the beginning of this post.]
Fathers' rights idealogue Warren Farrell, as quoted in the 1977 Penthouse article Incest: The Last Taboo - Previously Suppressed Material From The Original Kinsey Interviews Tells Us That Incest Is Prevalent And Often Positive, by Philip Nobile:
"When I get my most glowing positive cases, 6 out of 200," says Farrell, "the incest is part of the family's open, sensual style of life, wherein sex is an outgrowth of warmth and affection. It is more likely that the father has good sex with his wife, and his wife is likely to know and approve -- and in one or two cases to join in."
"... [M]illions of people who are now refraining from touching, holding, and genitally caressing their children, when that is really part of a caring, loving expression, are repressing the sexuality of a lot of children and themselves. ... [T]housands of people in therapy for incest are being told, in essence, that their lives have been ruined by incest. In fact, their lives have not generally been affected as much by the incest as by the overall atmosphere. ..."
The late Dr. Richard Gardner created the bogus Parental Alienation Syndrome, a weapon favored by fathers' rights advocates who claim that most allegations of child abuse and domestic violence made by mothers are malicious lies. The following is a sampling of some of his comments about pedophilia from his book True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse (1992):
"There is a whole continuum that must be considered here, from those children who were coerced and who gained no pleasure (and might even be considered to have been raped) to those who enjoyed immensely (with orgastic responses) the sexual activities."
"Older children may be helped to appreciate that sexual encounters between an adult and a child are not universally considered to be reprehensible act. The child might be told about other societies in which such behavior was and is considered normal. The child might be helped to appreciate the wisdom of Shakespeare's Hamlet, who said, 'Nothing's either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' In such discussions the child has to be helped to appreciate that we have in our society an exaggeratedly punitive and moralistic attitude about adult-child sexual encounters."
"Of relevance here is the belief by many of these therapists that a sexual encounter between an adult and a child -- no matter how short, no matter how tender, loving, and non-painful -- automatically and predictably must be psychologically traumatic to the child... The determinant as to whether the experience will be traumatic is the social attitude toward these encounters."
Dr. Robert Bauserman's weak "analysis" of joint custody research has been overshadowed by another "analysis" about child sexual abuse (CSA) he had co-written with Drs. Bruce Rind and Philip Tromovitch, popularly known as The Rind Study. They wrote (highlighting mine):
"One possible approach to a scientific definition, consistent with findings in the current review and with suggestions offered by Constantine (1981) , is to focus on the young person's perception of his or her willingness to participate and his or her reactions to the experience. A willing encounter with positive reactions would be labeled simply adult-child sex, a value-neutral term. If a young person felt that he or she did not freely participate in the encounter and if he or she experienced negative reactions to it, then child sexual abuse a term that implies harm to the individual, would be valid. Moreover, the term childshould be restricted to nonadolescent children ( Ames & Houston, 1990 ). Adolescents are different from children in that they are more likely to have sexual interests, to know whether they want a particular sexual encounter, and to resist an encounter that they do not want. Furthermore, unlike adult-child sex, adult-adolescent sex has been commonplace cross-culturally and historically, often in socially sanctioned forms, and may fall within the "normal" range of human sexual behaviors ( Bullough, 1990 ; Greenberg, 1988 ; Okami, 1994 ). A willing encounter between an adolescent and an adult with positive reactions on the part of the adolescent would then be labeled scientifically as adult-adolescent sex, while an unwanted encounter with negative reactions would be labeled adolescent sexual abuse."
There was a great deal of public moral outrage over The Rind Study. More importantly, the study itself was debunked by Stephanie Dallam of the Leadership Council, who wrote that the analysis "minimized CSA-adjustment relations, including use of a healthy sample, an inclusive definition of CSA, failure to correct for statistical attenuation, and misreporting of original data. Rind et al.'s study's main conclusions were not supported by the original data. As such, attempts to use their study to argue that an individual has not been harmed by sexual abuse constitute a serious misapplication of its findings."
The Rind Study lead to so much embarrassment for the American Psychological Association that it had publicly apologized for publishing it. Bauserman's contribution to this study gives on pause regarding his opinions about the benefits of joint custody for children.
Those who bring these statements to the public's attention have been accused of engaging in smear campaigns, despite the fact that these statements and books exist, are easy to locate, and the quotes are not taken out of context. Rather than address the content of the statements themselves, those who point them out have been called paranoid and hysterical. A few have been threatened with law suits. Some empty threats purportedly from Warren Farrell have appeared on Usenet and in fathers' rights mailing lists over the years (usually coinciding with yet another one of his failed book tours), but nothing has ever been sent directly to me. Farrell should have contacted Penthouse and Nobile regarding any misquotes, misrepresentations, or libel suits, but to my knowledge he has never done that. Mothers who try to protect their children from fathers who molest have been called hysterical, pathological, and sexually dysfunctional. Underwager blames a supposed "child sexual hysteria" in America partially on what he believes is some feminist's alleged jealousy of male closeness. On pages 46-47 of True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse, Richard Gardner referred to many child advocates as "charlatans, and/or psychopaths, and/or incompetents." Farrell has expressed the same disparaging attitude when he mentioned "child savers" in Penthouse. Farrell has also written a eulogy praising Gardner following his death.
Michael Jackson has made statements similar to those who support the "normalizing" of pedophilia. When told that many people would take issue with a 44 year old man sleeping with young boys, he dismissed them as "ignorant and wacky." The American Psychiatric Association did something right when it rejected the normalization of pedophilia. [To allay confusion, please note that that's the American Psychiatric Association, not the American Psychological Association.] The Washington Times did something right in reporting the news in this June editorial:
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) wisely rejected the recommendation of some psychiatrists at an APA symposium held in San Francisco on May 19 that pedophilia be removed from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Several categories of mental illness were debated for possible removal from the upcoming annual edition of the manual. Among other illnesses suggested for removal were exhibitionism, transvestism and sadomasochism.
Psychiatrist Charles Moses and Peggy Kleinplatz, Ph.D., presented a paper at the conference titled, "DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal." According to Dr. Moses and Ms. Kleinplatz, people whose sexual interests do not comply with the norm of heterosexuality should not be labeled mentally ill, and culture and religion are not good parameters to define healthy sexual instincts. Moreover, they conclude that psychiatry does not have a theoretical model that "constitutes normal and healthy sexuality to which it could compare people whose sexual interests draw them to children or sadomasochism." They believe that "any sexual interest can be healthy and life-enhancing."
Belated Friday Cat Blogging
My taste in movies is rubbing off on Lucky. Here he is, watching "Rosemary's Baby." And here he is again, a few seconds after a nap with Beowulf. [Yeah, that's my Tomb Raider gack on top of the TV.]
Other Cat News:
November 20, 2003
Give Daschle The Boot
What the heck kind of Democrat is Tom Daschle? He supported the ban on so-called "partial birth" abortions -- the same ban that does not have a provision to save the life of the woman.
You know it's bad if those two are against it.
Daschle has to go.
Googlerace is Rigged!
Update: My mistake. I saw this at Leslie's blog, House of Plum, not at Elayne's. I even got the link right. I accidently wrote Elayne's name because I still had "Googlerace is RIGGed" running through my head. By brain truncated too much info at once. I fixed the link below.
Since it looked like brainless fun, I typed in keywords to Googlerace to see how the top Presidential candidates, including Bush, would rank. Moseley Braun and Kucinich are not in Googlerace, but Sharpton is. [via House of Plum and Michele.]
Googlerace certainly does rank.
Monkey - Sharpton, not Bush. (Eeek! Racist overtones!)
Brat - Sharpton, not Bush.
Spoiled - Sharpton, not Bush.
Cowboy - Sharpton, not Bush.
Smirk - Lieberman, not Bush.
Asshat, Jerkwad, Dumbass, Buttmunch, Megalomaniac, Loser, Shit-For-Brains, Spineless, White (white???) .... SHARPTON!
Who at Googlerace has it in for Sharpton???
Studmuffin - Sharpton (It's official. We are all in the Matrix.)
Really scary one: President - Lieberman, not Bush.
Lieberman also won "pantywaist." Heh.
Googlerace must be rigged.
Usurper - Bush.
Chimp - Bush.
There. Now that's more like it.
November 18, 2003
Release The Hounds!
On the same day the Massachusetts' ruling favoring gay marriage makes headlines coast to coast, Bush makes a proclamation defending the "sanctity of marriage."
Hannity & Colmes Asked Me To Be A Guest
I received the invitation about 15 minutes ago via e-mail. I had to turn them down. As everyone knows, this show is on Fox News. The show (on the radio) is going to be about fathers' rights. If I can find out if and where it airs near me, I'll listen to it, and post about it later. I must admit it was exciting to be asked to participate, but I am unable to do it.