Question of the Day

If you could snap your fingers and get rid of one bad habit of yours that's just seemingly impossible for you to get rid of, what would it be?

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[Content Note: Homophobia; Christian Supremacy.]

The Ark Encounter park, which is a fundamentalist Christian theme park being built in Kentucky to feature, among other terrific attractions, a reproduction of Noah's Ark and "an exhibit explaining how fossils were created by God," will require its employees to "sign a 'statement of faith' banning homosexual conduct. In addition to the statement of faith, employees also have to sign a 'creation statement' agreeing that God created the world 6000 years ago, banning anyone who does not confirm to fundamentalist ideology from applying."

Okay, fine, whatever. But here's the rub:

[Ark Encounter] has been approved for $18 million in tax incentives from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.

...Defending the decision to award tax incentives to the project, Kentucky finance board chairman Keith Williams said: "They could produce a good amount of tourism for the state of Kentucky. It could help the hotel industry, the restaurant industry in that entire area. So if that is the case, and it does boost tourism, then they, yeah, they meet that criteria."
And what a fun thing it will be for all the LGBT folks employed at those local hotels and restaurants to host the visitors to Homophobic Six Flags!

It's pretty terrific that Kentucky taxpayers, including LGBT, atheist, and/or non-Christian taxpayers, get to see their tax dollars being used to support rank bigotry disguised as entertainment. Neat.

This shouldn't even be legal.

[Via Sean.]

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism; harassment.]

"I just had the opportunity to sit down with some wonderful young people and to hear them talk about the mistrust they have at a young age. These are young people and already they are concerned about potential interactions they might have with the police. I understand that mistrust. I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man. ...I think about my time in Georgetown—a nice neighborhood of Washington—and I am running to a picture at about 8 o'clock at night. I am running with my cousin. Police car comes driving up, flashes his lights, yells, 'Where you going? Hold it!' I say, 'Whoa, I'm going to a movie.' Now my cousin started mouthing off; I'm like, 'This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.' I'm angry and upset. We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie. At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn't a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice."—Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking in Ferguson earlier today.

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[Content Note: Misogyny; objectification.]

Marvel is soon to release Spider-Woman #1, the inaugural comic in the "recently announced new 'Spider-Woman' ongoing series from Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land." That's pretty exciting, right?

Except here is one variant cover for the comic designed by Milo Manara:

image of Spider-Woman crouching forward with her ass in the air, the most prominent feature in the image
[Click to embiggen.]

There are so many things wrong with that, I don't even know where to begin. Suffice it to say that Marvel evidently still doesn't give a shit about alienating feminist readers.

[H/T to my friend Mark, who saw it at io9.]

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Ferguson Update + Recommended Reading

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism.]

Earlier this afternoon, Jelani Cobb and others reported from Ferguson that police surrounded and entered a church that was being used as an aid station for protesters who have been gassed or were in need of other medical treatment. The police alleged it was being used as a shelter (even though it wasn't), and said "they violated housing policy by having people stay overnight."

Even if people had been staying there overnight, which the church disputes, the police have, for more than a week, filled the town nightly with teargas and/or pepper spray, which was so pervasive in homes near the protest area that people weren't able to turn on their AC or open their windows without choking.

As many folks (like @graceishuman, here) have pointed out on Twitter, religious structures are typically regarded as sanctuaries, all over the world. And Christian churches in the US routinely have youth sleepovers and lock-ins, as @amaditalks observed here.

This is just complete bullshit, used to justify further police harassment and abuse of power.

Speaking of which: At Deadspin, Greg Howard posts two videos of a police officer pointing an assault rifle at protesters and media last night, while shouting, "I will fucking kill you. Get back!" and then replying to someone who asks for his name, "Go fuck yourself." The officer continues to spin around, pointing his gun randomly at people, until another officer tells him to lower the weapon.

And at Al Jazeera, Aaron Ernst reports on being grabbed by a police officer who tells him, "Don't resist. I'll bust your ass. I'll bust your head right here."

Relatedly, this is an absolute must-read, with a content note that there is an image of an injury and images of officers pointing guns at the link: "A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War Being Used by Police in Ferguson."

And finally: Jane C. Timm with "5 things we now know about Ferguson," including that the grand jury hearings began today at noon. Maude help us if the grand jury doesn't come back with an indictment for Darren Wilson.

UPDATE: This is also a great piece by Jamelle Bouie [CN: descriptions of racist violence]: "Why the Fires in Ferguson Won't End Soon."

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound, lying at the bottom of the stairs on his side, with his tongue hanging out
So this is what's going on with Dudley right now.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Righteous Brothers: "Unchained Melody"

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Please Support Shakesville

teaspoon icon This is, for those who have requested it, your bi-monthly reminder to donate to Shakesville and an important fundraiser to keep Shakesville going.

If you have appreciated being able to tune into Shakesville for discussion of major stories, for media criticism, for distilled news about politics, for recaps of your favorite show, or for whatever else you appreciate at Shakesville, whether it's the moderation, the community in Open Threads, Film Corner, video transcripts, or anything else, please remember that Shakesville is run exclusively on donations. I would certainly appreciate your support, if you can afford to chip in. The donation link is in the sidebar to the right. Or click here.

I also want say thank you, so very much, to each of you who donates or has donated, whether monthly or as a one-off. I am grateful—and I don't take donations for granted. I've not the words to express the depth of my appreciation, besides these: This community couldn't exist without that support, truly. Thank you.

My thanks as well to everyone who contributes to the space in other ways, whether as a contributor, a moderator, a guest writer, a transcriber, and/or as someone who takes the time to send me a note of support and encouragement. (Or a cool drawing!) This community couldn't exist without you, either.

[Further explanation of fundraising is here. Please note that I don't want anyone to feel obliged to contribute financially, especially if money is tight. There is a big enough readership that no one needs to donate if it would be a hardship, and no one should ever feel bad about that.]

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Racism] I don't even know, y'all: "Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, the highway patrol captain placed in charge of security in Ferguson Missouri, was photographed making hand signs that some quickly thought were gang signs. The thing is, they were actually hand signs for the black fraternity Johnson has been part of, Kappa Alpha Psi." I mean, this is the level of absurd racism we're dealing with: The black patrol captain is a secret gang member. For fuck's sake.

[CN: Fracking] Welp: "Oklahoma's Geology Survey recorded an unprecedented 20 small earthquakes across the state on Tuesday, highlighting the dramatic increase of seismic activity that has occurred there as the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing—otherwise known as fracking—has spread across the state." Just a coincidence. Nothing to see here. Move along.

[CN: Transphobia; misgendering] Michelle Duggar, the matriarch of the Duggar Clan, made famous by TLC on their reality series "19 Kids and Counting," has voiced a robocall opposing an LGBT anti-discrimination bill in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which regurgitates just the most heinous lies about trans* women being male predators: "Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I'm calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men—yes, I said men—to use women's and girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don't believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool's private changing area?" This is fucking reprehensible.

[CN: Homophobia] Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been scolded by a judge for "bold misrepresentation" after the leaked memos on same-sex marriage "clearly contradict his prior representations to the court" about his belief that he doesn't have or claim the "authority to enforce" marriage law. Whooooooops! You're busted, jerko.

[CN: White privilege; drunk driving] Frederick Couch, father of Ethan Couch—the 16-year-old wealthy white Texas teenager who received probation after killing four people while drunk driving, because he suffers from "affluenza"—has been arrested for impersonating a police officer. What a neat family.

Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry had his mugshot taken yesterday, and it's obviously terrific. Although I did my best to improve upon it.

And finally! Mr. Pepper is really happy to be on the bed! (Video shows a tiny dachshund running around in gleeful circles on the bed.) It's a day! On the bed!

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Mo'Ne Davis covers this week's issue of Sports Illustrated.

image of the cover of Sports Illustrated featuring Mo'Ne Davis, a 13-year-old black girl pitching a baseball in the Little League World series, accompanied by text reading: 'Mo'Ne: Remember Her Name (as if we could ever forget)'

At Mashable, Sam Laird notes:
Davis is the first Little Leaguer — male or female — to make Sports Illustrated's iconic cover, while her youth puts her in good company. Former tennis prodigies Tracy Austin and Jennifer Capriati also made it as 13-year-olds, in 1976 and 1990, respectively. Venus Williams (1997), Michelle Kwan (1998), LeBron James (2002), Maria Sharpova (2004), and Serena Williams (1999) all made it as 17-year-olds.
If you want to see Mo'Ne in action, she'll be pitching again tonight and the game will air on ESPN at 7:30 ET.

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RIP James Foley

[Content Note: Death; description of violence; terrorism.]

US journalist James Foley, who went missing in Syria in November 2012, is thought to have been killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) after they released a video of their members beheading a man thought to be Foley. Although there has not yet been official confirmation of the video, Foley's mother, Diane Foley, has released a statement indicating they know it was him:

We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.

We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.
My condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. Losing a loved one in any circumstances is difficult; I cannot begin to imagine losing someone in this way, and finding out about it so publicly. I am so sad for those who knew him.

I don't even know what else to say. Or, rather, I don't know how to put into words my feelings about ISIS and their escalating, seemingly boundless, unfathomably cruel tactics.

Hayes Brown's piece on the context of Foley's murder is difficult but informative reading.

* * *

I have not watched the video nor looked at images of Foley's murder, and I do not want links to either posted here. Anyone who is determined to find either can do so on their own.

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[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; image of aimed weapons.]

Here is a description via Reuters of the goings-on in Ferguson last night:

Police in riot gear ordered demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, to disperse late on Tuesday, then charged into the crowd to make arrests as relative calm dissolved during an 11th night of protests over the fatal shooting of a black teenager.

...Community leaders, politicians and city officials had redoubled their appeals for order on Tuesday, calling for citizens to stay off the streets after sunset, even though a mandatory curfew had been lifted.

In the hours after darkness fell, protesters were notably fewer in number and more subdued than on previous nights. Onlookers milled about as civic activists, members of the clergy and even Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster mingled with demonstrators.

But as the rally was winding down and most of the protesters were leaving the area, someone among the dozens still in the streets hurled a plastic water bottle at police.

Helmeted officers, some with heavy weapons and dogs, suddenly emerged in force. They ordered the remaining protesters to leave and chased down those who resisted as more bottles were thrown. Police later said they arrested 47 people and seized several loaded firearms, but no gunshots were fired.
This is the image that accompanies the article:

image of four white male police officers in riot gear holding assault rifles; two of them are pointing their weapons toward protesters who surround them, while one handcuffs a black man against a chain-link fence and the other looks at protesters behind them

One plastic water bottle, chucked at police decked out in body armor, and this is where it ends up.

How does any reasonable person look at that and not conclude that the police are looking for reasons to aggress upon protestors?

And much of the news this morning is of a tenor which says last night was pretty great, comparatively. See how that works? Now that the police are only pointing their weapons at people, and using pepper spray instead instead of tear gas, and arresting 47 people instead of 78, on a night where people who want to exercise their first amendment rights were told to go home, that's considered fucking progress.


Today, Attorney General Eric Holder will arrive in Ferguson. Ahead of his visit, he penned "A message to the people of Ferguson," in which he makes this promise:
This is my pledge to the people of Ferguson: Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent. And beyond the investigation itself, we will work with the police, civil rights leaders, and members of the public to ensure that this tragedy can give rise to new understanding — and robust action — aimed at bridging persistent gaps between law enforcement officials and the communities we serve. Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community.
Let's hope so.

Speaking of AG Holder, here, via @prisonculture, is a petition asking Holder for a national investigation against police brutality because "investigations 'case by case' have not and shall not remedy the problem." Teaspoons ahoy!

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Open Thread

image of the fantasy elvish realm Rivendell

Hosted by Rivendell.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Grey: "What is the best thing you've purchased for under $10?"

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Baby Goat + Indifferent Pig = WIN

Here is just a terrific video of an adorable baby goat playing with on an adorable huge pig:

Video Description: The small brown and white baby goat hops on top of the large pink pig, who is lying sleepily on the ground. The pig is completely indifferent to the baby goat hopping on hir. The baby hops around and slides off and then hops back on and stands on the pig and then walks around and tries to lie down and slides off. The baby goat is very silly, and the pig is very patient. It is very cute.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat, curled up on the arm of the loveseat, beneath a lamp
Matilda. That face.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Rage. Seethe. Boil.

[Content Note: Police brutality; death; racism.]

This afternoon, St. Louis police shot and killed a black man a few miles from Ferguson, because he "came within several feet of them brandishing a knife."

A crowd of at least 100 people quickly gathered at the scene. Some people chanted, "Hands up! Don't shoot!" — the refrain from a week of protests over the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, three miles away.

The man in the St. Louis shooting, 23, had taken energy drinks and a package of pastries from a nearby convenience store, Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters. He said that the man was "acting erratically, walking back and forth, up and down the street."

The chief said that the officers repeatedly ordered the man to drop the knife and drew their weapons after he did not drop it. The chief said the man told the police: "Shoot me now. Kill me now."

He said the two officers fired after the man moved toward one of them and came within 3 to 4 feet.

"One of the witnesses described it as a suicide by cop," Dotson said.
Oh, so the cops were just doing him a favor. How splendidly generous of them. Seethe.

Dotson fails to mention that some of the witnesses were reportedly suggesting that cops tase the man. And lots of people on Twitter have been asking the same question I was thinking: Why didn't they tase him? Or pepper spray him? Or at least try any other means of relieving the man of his weapon before shooting to kill?

(Not that people can't and haven't died from tasers and pepper spray. But they are generally less lethal than guns.)

Was there any attempt to establish if this man was incapacitated in some way? Did he actually need medical care? Would it have even mattered if he did?

How long did they talk to him? How long did they spend trying to negotiate with him, while he was still a yard away from them, begging them to shoot him? How long before BOTH OFFICERS just opened fire in the middle of a neighborhood, where other people could have been hurt?

Who the fuck was even being protected in this situation?

We're just meant to accept that it's reasonable two police officers started shooting at a man who was holding a knife, because sometimes knives are used to hurt people. We're meant not to question whether there were, perhaps, some more reasonable and less violent options.

Fuck that.

I don't accept that. I am questioning it.

And I am mightily resisting the mass gaslighting (masslighting?) that tries to make me feel like I'm crazy for finding this entirely unacceptable.

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What in Harvey Keitel Hell Is This?

[Content Note: Police misconduct; violence; privilege.]

Actual Headline: "I'm a cop. If you don't want to get hurt, don't challenge me."

Actual Subhead: "It's not the police, but the people they stop, who can prevent a detention from turning into a tragedy."

Actual Opening Paragraphs:

A teenager is fatally shot by a police officer; the police are accused of being bloodthirsty, trigger-happy murderers; riots erupt. This, we are led to believe, is the way of things in America.

It is also a terrible calumny; cops are not murderers. No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed. And while they're unlikely to defend it quite as loudly during a time of national angst like this one, people who work in law enforcement know they are legally vested with the authority to detain suspects — an authority that must sometimes be enforced. Regardless of what happened with Mike Brown, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.

Working the street, I can't even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority.
Substitute "authority" to "boundaries," and that's a sentence that pretty much any marginalized person in the United States could say, too.

And, if you're from certain marginalized communities, you can count primary among the violators of your boundaries the police.

Actual Paragraph So Terrific the WaPo Made It an All-Caps Pull-Quote:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don't argue with me, don't call me names, don't tell me that I can't stop you, don't say I'm a racist pig, don't threaten that you'll sue me and take away my badge. Don't scream at me that you pay my salary, and don't even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?
Consider that advice in the wake of a series of police shootings of black men in which the men were either holding their hands up, prostrate on the ground, or not even given enough time to comply.

Every single thing about this article is terrible—and highlights everything that's wrong with the current dominant police culture in the US.

Note that the author of the piece, Sunil Dutta, is "a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University" and "has been an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years," where he has "worked as an internal affairs investigator."

Yeah. No wonder we've got a problem.

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I Mean

[Content Note: Street harassment; rape culture; racism.]

Yesterday, the New York Post published (DoNotLink) a gross piece of linkbait in which Doree Lewak, a thin white woman, shares how thrilling she finds it to be catcalled by male construction workers, and admonishes other women that they should be "flattered" by street harassment, too.

But only the good kind, obviously: "Of course, not all catcalls are created equal. The good ones are innocuous, not crass or obscene. To clarify, a compliment is 'You're beautiful,' and not 'I like your nipples,' a crude comment beyond the point of no return."

Look, I don't care if some other woman gets a rush out being catcalled by construction workers who use very specific language of which she personally approves. Whatever greases your wheel.

But this is a piece that lectures other women to stop being so fussy and prudish about being "complimented" by strangers shouting at you about your appearance, and tells men they're doing women a service.

And there's some real classist garbage embedded in her flirting fairytale, too:

But the mystique and machismo of manly construction workers have always made my heart beat a little faster — and made my sashay a little saucier. It's as primal as it gets, ladies! They either grunt in recognition or they go back to their coffee break. It's not brain science — when a total stranger notices you, it's validating.

Oh, don't go rolling those sanctimonious eyes at me, young women of Vassar: I may court catcalls, but I hold my head high. Enjoying male attention doesn't make you a traitor to your gender.
The juxtaposition of manly, grunting blue collar workers and girly, pearl-clutching Vassar grads. Good fucking grief.

Lewak says she's happy to be objectified by these guys as some sort of gift to them, but it looks like she's doing quite a bit of objectifying herself. Even before you get to the photo of her posing coyly with a black construction worker.

I don't think Lewak's a traitor to her gender, but I do think she's kind of an asshole. And not because she "enjoys male attention," but because she's peddling shit so old it farts the tune of Greensleeves about harassment being a compliment and about white women treating men of color like their purpose is to dispense flattery.

I would say that the New York Post should be ashamed of itself, but they have no shame.

I'm pretty sure that's right in their masthead.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Platters: "Ebb Tide"

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