Tagged: Breitbart News

Martha Thomases: Pedophilia Means What?

Once again, we seem to be having the problem of defining what we mean when we use the terms “free speech,” “censorship” and “political correctness.” The problem is embodied by alt-right critic, Milo Yiannopoulos. My pal, Mindy Newell, alluded to it here. Since she wrote that, there have been some new wrinkles to the story.

Mr. Yiannopoulos is the latest in a long line of bitchy queens. This homophobic stereotype is one of my favorites, and has been since before I knew what homosexuality was. Paul Lynde was my first exposure. Later, I would enjoy the (now terribly dated) film The Boys in the Band, feeling really daring and bold to attend such a movie in 1970 Youngstown Ohio. By the time I actually met out-of-the-closet queer people, I was predisposed to think them all brilliant… which, I think, is a form of homophobia, but more well-intentioned than most.

Milo takes the bitchy queen stereotype to its logical, self-loathing conclusion. He makes incredibly gross racist and misogynistic statements, and then, like Ann Coulter before him, insists he is only kidding. His attacks on Leslie Jones incited his fans to barrage her with racist insults and even death threats on Twitter, and he insisted he couldn’t be racist because he has a black boyfriend.

At least since Howard Stern (and certainly well before him), straight white men have insulted people who are not straight white men and then screamed about censorship when some of us didn’t like it. They claim to be the inheritors of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, although unlike those heroes, they tend to make fun of the powerless and not the powerful. If you find Stern and his ilk funny, I’m happy for you. We need more laughter. I just don’t think it takes courage to piss on poor people.

Yiannopoulos is the queer variation of this type. With Breitbart News, he found a home that indulged him in his bigotry. He used his platform to build a fan-base. And he used his fan-base to build an outrage machine.

This reached its peak when a group of college students rioted outside a hall where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. For public safety reasons, the college canceled the event. A martyr was born.

There are very few people in this world as insufferable as a newly radicalized college student. I know — I’ve been one. I set an impossibly high standard for political purity, and angrily castigated anything that didn’t measure up. I would not compromise with anyone no matter what the reason, because any compromise would be a betrayal of my pristine ideals. And if you didn’t share my ideals in exactly the same level of intensity and with the same priorities, you were part of the problem.

I don’t think I’m such a purist anymore, although some might still find me to be insufferable. I don’t regret it. Being passionate about my issues not only gave me a sense of purpose, but also a way to understand, in time, people who felt strongly about different things. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had not been that person in college.

If the 1975 version of Milo had been invited to speak on my campus, I would have demonstrated against him.

However, I wouldn’t have rioted. I’m non-violent. In general, I’m against the destruction of property. There are times when I think it can be worth it — pouring blood on draft files, for example. However, in this case, and so many others, rioting only succeeded in making Milo a martyr. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi nailed it here when he said “A favored tactic is to direct his audiences toward some overemotional sap who has made the mistake of calling for him to be banned, at which point he triumphantly declares himself a champion of liberty, and his enemies censors and authoritarians.”

Our Tweeter-in-Chief backed up Milo, threatening to cut off federal funds to the university. Milo got a book deal from Simon & Schuster. Milo was everywhere on television. He was scheduled to speak the keynote address at CPAC, the conservative political action committee.

This didn’t happen in a vacuum. Roxane Gay pulled her book from S&S in protest. People debated about whether it was effective to boycott the publisher or if this might end up hurting authors more than a corporation.

Friday, as Mindy noted, Milo was on Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. To his credit, Maher includes a lot of conservatives on his talk show. Unfortunately, when he does, he often lets them run the conversation, perhaps because he doesn’t want to seem to be rude to them. In the Overtime segment (presented online), Milo again took over, this time insisting that Leslie Jones is illiterate, that people who disagree with him are stupid, yada yada yada.

Luckily, comedian/writer/producer Larry Wilmore was there to show him how a real adult argues. Watch the clip. It’s brilliant.

I miss seeing Larry Wilmore on my television every day. Please, someone, bring him back.

Over the weekend, a conservative group found videotape of Milo talking about how great it was to have sex with 13-year old boys, especially for the boys. He stated “…there are certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age. I certainly consider myself to be one of them… Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old, who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet who have not gone through puberty.”

This was the last straw, or the smoking gun, for some of those who hired him. Simon & Schuster cancelled his book contract. CPAC cancelled his speaking gig.

Milo says his words were taken out of context. Milo says that he was making a joke. Milo says that he is being censored. But here’s the thing: No one is entitled to book contracts. No one is entitled to speaking gigs. If you write a book and it gets published, you are not entitled to talk-show appearances.

As Roxane Gay said, “This is yet another example of how we are afforded the freedom of speech but there is no freedom from the consequences of what we say.”

Mindy Newell: Homeland, 24: Legacy and Yiannopoulos, Oh My!

Before I get into the meat of today’s column…

Do you watch comedian and political satirist Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Friday, 10 PM ET)? What I especially love about Mr. Maher’s show is that he invites people on who are from all shades of the political spectrum and that he’s unafraid of calling out bullshit when he sees it, whether it’s coming from the left, the right, or anywhere in the middle. Yes, he can be crass, profane, and occasionally downright rude, but he’s not sitting on the sidelines.

One of Friday night’s guests was Milo Yiannopoulos, a public speaker and a senior editor for Breitbart News, the alt-right news site that brought us such lovely individuals as Steve Bannon. This was my first experience with this guy, and it was incredibly unpleasant and I cannot be-lieve that anyone takes this very sad, very mixed-up little boy seriously. Er iz a meyvn vi a bok af a klezmer, which translates to He’s an expert like a goat’s an expert on musicians.

Homeland has been back for a month, and though perhaps the first three chapters were a bit slow and tedious in the set-up, last week’s episode kicked the series into high gear. To bring you up to date, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is back in the States, living in Brooklyn with her daughter by the now-dead Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) and working for a foundation whose goal is to help Muslims living in America, while secretly advising the new President-Elect on foreign policy and the intelligence agencies motives and games. The foundation’s latest client is Sekou Bah, a teenage convert to Islam who had been arrested by the FBI for terrorist-related activities – he had been posting videos critical of American policy towards Islam and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the incoming President’s policy agenda – she wants to cut down on what she terms “America’s interference with foreign countries” – is antithetical to Carrie’s old co-workers at the CIA, Saul Berenson (Mandy Pantikin) and Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham); they believe that Iran is clandestinely working with North Korea on a “parallel nuclear” project – in other words, Iran is helping North Korea build a nuclear bomb and the means to deliver it – and breaking the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a.k.a. the “Iran deal.”

And Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) is one fucked-up ex-spy; no, he didn’t die in that hospital bed last season – as I and just about everyone believed – but he is suffering not only from the lingering physical effects of the Sarin gas, but also one helluva case of PTSD. When we first saw him, he was living in a V.A. rehab center; now he is living in the basement of Carrie’s brownstone. And he has discovered that someone is spying on Carrie from an apartment across the street – only Carrie doesn’t believe him.

Last week’s episode, “A Flash of Light,” saw Saul visiting his sister, who lives in the disputed West Bank of Israel, using her as an excuse to hide his real reason for being there – to meet an Iranian general and ask him to investigate Iran’s [possible] “parallel nuclear program” with North Korea. The general agrees, but as Saul is about to leave for the airport to return to the States, the Israelis pick him. They know that a senior Iranian official was in Palestinian area of the West Bank, and they know that Saul had crossed over the previous night. They detain him.

Meanwhile, Carrie has used her espionage skills to get the FBI to release Sekou and to clear him. There is one warning – that Sekou not post any more videos. But when Sekou arrives home, his friends are suspicious of how he got off, and think he has become an informant. To prove them wrong, Sekou posts a new vid, in which he outs the real FBI informant, a former gang member named Saad Masoud. Carrie is able to eventually convince Sekou to take it down; although she does not tell him she is ex-CIA, she does let him know that not only will the Feds lock up Sekou and throw away the key, she could go to jail if it is discovered that she took what she calls “highly risky measures” to clear him.

That night, Quinn, who is now convinced that the man across the street is spying on Carrie – he broke into the apartment and found a stool placed next to the window; its indentations in the carpet indicate to him that he has been there a long time – takes her car and tracks the man, who has been picked up by a car. He follows him to Medina Medley, a warehouse and distribution center where Sekou works; Quinn takes pictures, until a cop hurries him along for illegal parking.

The next day newspapers feature a story on the President-Elect having information on Iran’s nuclear program and not acting on it. She believes Dar Adal leaked the story. She wants Carrie to give her information on Dar – and by inference, Saul – that the new administration can use against him, but Carrie is reluctant to betray her former colleagues. She leaves to pick up her daughter on the street, where Dar is waiting for her – he makes a nasty crack about the color of her daughter’s hair, a reference to Carrie’s affair with Nicholas Brody – and tells her he knows that Carrie is giving the President-Elect advice. When Carrie denies it, he says, “I’m not Saul.” (Great line!)

He tells her that she has been out of the CIA for three years, and that none of her information is pertinent.

The next morning, Sekou is back at work. He drives his delivery van into midtown Manhattan.  He hears a beeping. The van explodes.

And in Israel, Saul is told he’s being released. “You’re needed back home. There’s been an attack in New York.”

A great cliffhanger. And which today, as you’re reading this, will have been only sorta resolved, because the thing with Homeland is that you still don’t know what’s coming next…even if you think you do.

Which brings me to…

I’ve also been watching 24: Legacy. I don’t know if I’m going to stay with it. For one thing, I’ve been missing Supergirl, which is on the CW the same time Legacy is on Fox, Monday at 8 P.M. ET, and CBS video-on-demand is lagging behind the Girl of Steel’s episodes, and I don’t want to pay for CBS All-Access. But the other thing is that 24: Legacy kinda sucks.

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m missing Jack and Chloe and Tony and everyone else at the “old” CTU, or whether it’s because the plotting on 24: Legacy is “eh.” I’m not going to go into an extensive rundown of it, because I’ve already immersed you into my recap of Homeland; but one thing that really bothers me is the “jealous girlfriend,” a trope so old that its gray hair is showing. The other thing that’s really bothersome is that I can see the “twists-and-turns” coming from a mile away. For instance, last week, when the new Jack Bauer – see, I can’t even remember his name – was stuck in a police precinct with every cop and SWAT team member about to blow him away, I knew that CTU was going to ring up in the nick of time and call off the dogs. (And that was the cliffhanger the previous week. That’s a long time to see what’s coming.) I only rarely guessed what was about to happen on Jack’s 24. More important, I didn’t want to. I just wanted to lose myself in the story – and I was.

That ain’t happening with what one of our readers, ReneeCat, calls 24: Light. Nope. I’ll give it one more episode, which is being more than fair. But I’ll watch it later, either on VOD or via streaming.

Because tonight I’m watching Supergirl.

 

Mindy Newell: Post-Election Blues Redux

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

• Pastor Martin Niemoller, 1892 – 1984

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”

• Attributed to Edmund Burke, 1729 – 1797

I am sorry if I am boring you, but simply talking about what series I am binging on now (Luke Cage) and how much I am digging it has been expunged by John Ostrander’s column yesterday.

I didn’t know that Humberto Ramos and George Pérez have decided not to attend any conventions held in any state that went “red” and voted for Trump until I read John’s piece, and I immediately clinked on the links to both men’s statements.

I am immensely impressed by their willingness to speak out and not to be one of those good men who do nothing.

I am immensely pissed off about the horrible vitriol flung against Mr. Ramos, whom I don’t know, and George, whom of course I certainly do. It’s really disgusting, especially the barbs slung at George – go ahead, read them, just scroll down to the comments section on the Newsarama page – and I can’t help wondering just what the comments would be if either man’s last name was “Smith” or “Jones” instead of Hispanic origin. Of course, as John said, it is the Internet, after all…

…But I also must point out that we now have a President-Elect who uses Twitter to insult and rant and threaten litigation against anyone he conceives to be against him; an about-to-be White House Chief Strategist (Steve Bannon) whose Breitbart News website is a haven for white supremacists and whose divorce filing included this statement from his wife about their kids’ education: “…the biggest problem he had…is the number of Jews that attend. He said that he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews;” an about-to-be National Security Advisor (retired Lt. General Michael Flynn) who joined the crowds at Trump campaigns in shouting “Lock her up” about Mrs. Clinton and who tweeted “Fear of Muslims is rational;” and a nominated Attorney General (Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama) who has called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 “an intrusive piece of legislature,” who endorses a ban on Muslim immigration, and, oh, by the way, was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate for a federal judge seat after being nominated by President Reagan in 1986 because of his racism.

Bottom line: I am proud of Mr. Ramos and of George. They not only speak truth to power, but they have acted upon it.

As for me, I will do what I have always done – speak up when and where it is necessary, post on Facebook, and write this column. I will try not to bore you by turning this into a weekly anti-Trump diatribe, but please don’t expect me to apologize, either, if my thoughts about the pop culture world are interrupted by a frightening shadow that is about to become a reality on Friday, January 20, 2017.

 

John Ostrander: Political Extrapolation

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I have a technique I use when I’m plotting my stories. I take the idea, an event, and then I extrapolate. I figure out what might reasonably follow given this event. Lots of things are possible; few are probable. I try to stick to what’s reasonably possible. I also use inference; I figure backwards from the given event to see what could lead up to it. In many ways, I’m playing detective.

When I was writing Suicide Squad, I would look at various political situations around the world and then extrapolate from that as to what might happen. There was a time when I got almost scarily accurate. A friend of mine, Cheryl Harris, contacted me and wanted to know where I was sending the Squad that following summer; she was trying to plan her vacation and wherever I was sending the Squad, she wanted to avoid.

So, as we come up to Election Day 2016, I thought it might be interesting to do some extrapolating as if it were the plot of one of my stories. This is my extrapolation and will reflect my views and biases. If you don’t share the same ones, feel free to ignore mine.

To start with, the event I see happening is Trump loses bigly. Yes, the polls show a narrowing between Trump and Clinton but it won’t be enough to matter. Hillary will win.

Trump won’t concede. He’ll continue to insist that it was all rigged (without any proof); I read Trump as a narcissist and to concede the election would make him a loser. Since he’s always a winner in his own mind, the only explanation that will make sense to him is that the election was rigged and he was robbed. He’s not a loser; he’s a victim.

He’ll also continue to maintain that that the media was stacked against him. He’s been stressing that for the past few weeks.

More than a few people have been suggesting this is all a precursor to his creating Trump TV – his own network. It’s also been suggested he’ll start his own political party and that’s also a possibility but I think the TV station is more likely. He’s been a reality TV star and Roger Ailes, one of his big political advisors, ran Fox News.

The campaign CEO is Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, a right wing news organization. It seems to me they’ll urge creating a new network or buying out an existing one and putting the Trump name on it and it will be to the right of Fox News, which is a scary concept. Facts won’t matter to them any more than they matter to Trump; vitriol will be more important as will blocking Hillary and the Democrats at every turn if they can.

Given the Donald’s attention span, I doubt that he himself will be involved with it much after the first year. Within five years, it may be in bankruptcy. That, however, will not be Trump’s lasting legacy and impact on the American political scene.

It will be his supporters, what Hillary called his “basket of deplorables.” Trump’s tapped into an anger and a lot of hate that is out there and it has congealed now into its own mass. If Trump is not its leader, it will find another. What it won’t do, I think, is go away. It has given a validity to some very nasty elements in our society; it has made the “alt right” viable. And that will be with us for a long time.

That’s the story as I see it; we’ll find out how accurate it is in a few days. No doubt your story will be different, especially if you’re a Trump supporter.

Interesting days. Interesting days.