Category Archives: Civil & human rights

All rights criticism & commentary; gender, sexuality, race, fascism, etc. Further breakdown with Tags.

American S.W.A.T. & the New Warrior Cop

Radley Balko’s must-read article on inspired this webstrip about U.S. police mission creep; i.e. domestic law enforcement’s militarization, lack of training, & willingness/eagerness to sidestep around America’s Fourth Amendment.

An excerpt:

By the end of the 2000s, police departments were sending SWAT teams to enforce regulatory law. In August 2010, for example, a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies raided several black-and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area…

(P)olice held barbers and customers at gunpoint and put some in handcuffs, while they turned the shops inside out…

By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps… (b)ut in the end, thirty-four of the thirty-seven arrests were for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor…

(P)olice didn’t even attempt to obtain a legal search warrant. They didn’t need to, because they conducted the raids in conjunction with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Despite the guns and handcuffs, under Florida law these were licensure inspections, not criminal searches, so no warrants were necessary.

The article is excerpted from Balko’s “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.”

Canada is but a few years behind the ‘progress’ of our southern neighbours.


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Springwater Township’s Ethics Problem

I made this strip a few days before the Sept 17 Springwater Township council meeting, even though I promised myself that I was done with time-sensitive material. Oops.

In Springwater, we have issues with the quality of our elected representatives. Rick Webster, Councillor Ward 3, announced his intent to submit a disturbing motion, seconded by Deputy Mayor Dan McLean. In cases of perceived slander or libel against a council member, it would obligate taxpayers to pay for the lawyer(s) hired to sue constituent(s) on behalf of that elected council member. I know a local lawyer who worked on a recent libel case that billed roughly a million dollars. Funny, we trust our reps to spend our money with wisdom–like it was their own–yet Webster is unwilling to spend his.

That’s one problem.

He had the vocal support of nearly half the council, including the Mayor Linda Collins & Deputy Mayor McLean; one vote short of passing.

That’s another problem.

So, Webster et al are cowards with their money. After public outcry, like a champion of the people’s interest (eyeroll), Councillor Webster withdrew the motion so it couldn’t go to vote.

That’s a third.

Shall I mention the Midhurst Secondary Plan? I don’t know enough about MSP to critique it, but here are links. My understanding is that our elected officials refuse to consider another course–one that doesn’t add tens of thousands of residents to the community (can we say ‘increased tax base,’ quickly followed by ‘pay raise’?) and place unrealistic strain on local natural resources–especially given the views of residents. The province recognises local growth as poorly planned, & its mandate is to limit growth. The talking head lawyer (rather than an elected representative) claims the opposite, that the province has mandated the area’s growth & expected population (approaching 30,000), essentially an order to pave wetlands. At some point in the future, council members will get to say, “We didn’t say that.”

As addressed in the comic strip, certain members of the Springwater Township council are bullshit artists who would dare quash dissent, like the temporary dictators they imagine themselves to be, but we force them to wear their adult pants & suffer the indignity of ignoring criticism.

We little people are cruel that way.

B/c ignoring the wishes of the electorate is a smart move for those who will campaign for reelection a year from now </sarcasm>.

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Reebok, Rick Ross & Rape Culture

"God forgives, I don't," says the man who must drug a woman to have sex.

…or “Irony & the Apologetic Corporate Shill.”

Today in backpedaling:

“Apologies to my many business partners, who would never promote violence against women.” ~ Rick Ross, b/c he doesn’t want his rape-iness to interfere with his income.

Hey, Rick – glad you brought up your corporate pals! We should scrutinize Reebok, as its in-song brand mention directly precedes the controversial line:

I die over these Reeboks, you don’t even know it
Put molly all in the champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoy that, she ain’t even know it

Modern market research & analysis being what it is, can Reebok claim with a straight face that it didn’t clear Ross’s lyrics beforehand? If you’ve heard it, you’ll know the Reebok line is U.O.E.N.O.’s most well-enunciated.

Controversy sells. It seems that sharing this topic with Steubenville still isn’t bad enough to be unwanted publicity, or indefensible by Ross’s fans.

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Feminism Versus Equalism – Perception Is Everything

No. Elizabeth Warren for President, with Henry Rollins for VP

No. Elizabeth Warren for President, with Henry Rollins for VP.

“If it’s a man’s world as they say, then men, your world is a poorly run carnage fest.” ~Henry Rollins, commenting about the Steubenville rape case.

It’s not a new idea, but it’s definitely one that needs to be popularized (and a quiet cheer for Rollins’ website being down–current to 2013-03-19 23:40–due to a 503 Error, which likely means it’s overloaded by traffic).

I’m dumbfounded by men who are considered “good” men, who consider themselves good men, who are honest and hardworking and will “stand by their bros,” but there’s no ethical problem associated with lying to women or cheating on them (the lie of the promise of fidelity), as if women aren’t human. As a musician, a phrase that comes to mind is

“What happens on the road stays on the road.”

Yes, we acknowledge that many women feel the same way about men, but the ridiculous “war of the sexes” is waged on a slanted field that benefits our (at least) 5000 years of male ruling class.

that awkward moment when you call everyone out on their shit

Equalism is a cop-out. Equalism denies history, sugarcoating the fact that there was a time when our grandmothers and their non-reproducing women peers had the voting rights of housepets. To recover from the ills of history, history must be acknowledged.

“We know you happened, Patriarchy, and that you continue. You cling to our mindspace for dear life. You thrive not just across the ocean, but across the street.”

As a term, Feminism, like many words, has an arms-length relationship to its roots. Once it meant “equal rights for women”; now, to reasonable people, it means “equal rights for all.” That’s just a fact. Feminism is vital to the healing of adults raised by bias, and even more so to children growing up with (hopefully) an enlightened perspective.

We should let pass no attempt to malign Feminism by accusing it of being something it isn’t.

In the age of branding, we know perception is everything.

[EDIT: I’ve changed my mind, and non-destructively edited] I believe the term Feminism has served its use, and we should retire it in favour of Equalism. Feminism is now a loaded term that lets stupid people say “Feminism… feminine… female… Yeah, the rise of females and Feminism is the cause of all our problems.” If we adopted Equalism as our overarching term (kind of like how Climate Change replaced Global Warming in the pursuit of accuracy), any daring claim that Equalists are to blame for our ills would make those accusers appear as stupid as they are. [Again, green is new, red is old and no longer the way I see things. I was naïve.]

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BP & Corporate Murder

Less-than-humorous commentary on British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon fiasco. BTW, on 2013-07-26, Halliburton agreed they’re guilty… of destroying evidence.

That, with 11 dead & a poisoning visible from orbit. Nice.

Note: This is a back-post, so the comics I host on have context.

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Where the ‘Real’ Drama Is

Comedy and Tragedy, by raulsouza on deviantArt

Comedy and Tragedy,
by raulsouza on deviantArt

Back in the day, my mother dated this one guy. He was flawed, sure–we all are–but we connected on a few things. We were both musicians, & I was beginning to love film, a place he was already at.

We disagreed about sports, although ‘disagree’ mightn’t be the right word. He didn’t understand why I could dig the drama of fiction, but wasn’t engaged by sports. He couldn’t miss a televised basketball game or any Olympic event. (I could credit his influence on my affinity for curling, but I digress.)

His position was that, in sports, coaches set up players & strategies, & all have their skills & stats, but the outcome is an unknown, a mystery. Underdogs can kick–have kicked–the buttocks of superior teams, & mediocre players pull off uncharacteristically amazing plays.

In other words, to him, sports is where the real drama is, not in prefabricated scripting & pretentious symbolism (to put it a certain way). And I actually admired the point. But the narrative–deek left & put a ball in a basket–was a storyline that never resonated with me.

After all these years, I think our greater cultural sense is that real drama is in the unscripted. The rise of both the documentary as a respected storytelling genre, & reality shows as populist distractionism, reinforces his philosophy.

That brings me to politics: the political ‘arena,’ the ‘theatre’ of war, the truthiness of capitalist journalism, & the outright thought-modifying propaganda of political ads, stump speeches, & ideological op-eders & pundits.

Sports might be dramatic in terms of externalized, adrenaline-pumping, ‘doesn’t touch me’ entertainment; politics is drama in the most real sense of the word, that it has direct impact on our lives. From our freedom of movement, to freedom of speech, to the social safety net, to the regulations on things like clean water & building codes, to missiles murderously rocketing across borders, politics has immense influence on our everyday lives.

For its importance, I daresay politics might be second only to the seemingly life-&-death affairs of the heart, romantic & otherwise, in terms of the personal immediacy of love, jealousy, betrayal & heartbreak.

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Filed under Autobio, Civil & human rights, politics

Security: Impossible?

Image by Foxyjoy at deviantArt

Already we’ve cybered ourselves into a new Wild West. I think we’re on the brink of a new Dark Ages.

Imagine living in a ‘house of the future present,’ where all of your appliances are connected & interacting, so your life can run more smoothly than it used to. Do you truly have less stress, or do you sweat that your thermometer might offer a hacker access that ultimately compromises your bank accounts?

(A)fter the US Chamber of Commerce fixed its systems, a printer in one of its offices randomly started printing Chinese characters, and the group discovered that a thermometer in a chamber-owned apartment was communicating with an I.P. address in China.” (emphasis added)

That was after a monthslong cyberattack, & it took the help of the FBI to solve it. Feel safe yet? Read that article on the most recent Black Hat conference for a healthy dose of reality.

(I) covered up my computer’s Web camera with a piece of masking tape — a precaution that invited ridicule from friends and co-workers who suggested it was time to get my head checked. (Later,) I removed the webcam tape — after a friend convinced me that it was a little much — only to see its light turn green a few days later, suggesting someone was in my computer and watching.”

Whoops. I have mine covered. That article goes into various ways you can secure your passphrases (we now live beyond the world of the effective password).

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