Friday Night Fun and Culture: Penny Arcade

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The Terrorist in Colorado

I’m an old hippie.

I’m also a gun owner and sport shooter.

I grew up in in the country where people had guns and hunted.

I was a hippie in the 1960s when police repression caused a lot of people to talk about getting guns and fighting back.

Yet the supposedly violent 1960s were incredibly safe and peaceful if one didn’t live in the South where the racists were murdering civil rights workers left and right.

Even the huge riots that left the cities burning resulted in far more property damage than loss of lives.

The media called us flower children and the rabid right wing chicken hawks called us cowards.

Then in 1970 a movie called Dirty Harry came out.

Cinemistas saw it and compared it to Kurosawa’s samurai films.  Little did we know it was the first film in a genre of right wing propaganda films aimed at frightening the American people in to accepting more and more authoritarian police.  Police whose hands were tied by judges and civil libertarians.

Then came all the action films that made ever more extreme guns sexy.

A few Years back I was purchasing the civilian version of the AK47.  No flash suppressor, hunting rifle type stock.  I wanted one because it was dirt cheap to shoot.  The seller said, “But it doesn’t have a bayonet lug.”

I answered with, “That’s okay. I’m not planning to run down the lane at the range and stab the target.” I could of added that a piece of paper or metal knock down target wasn’t likely to come running down the range to require me to go hand to hand with it.

Mostly I just want to go to the range and get in the zen groove of making as small a single hole in the target with a magazine of ammo as I can at a measured distance.  My big thrill is putting all the round from a 17 round magazine of my Glock in a circle of 2 inches at 21 feet.

I never bothered to get a concealed carry permit because I don’t particularly want to carry a gun around with me.  Although if the world ever goes to shit to the point where that becomes necessary I figure a permit will be the least of my concerns.

As a hippie gun owner I am appalled by the racism of so many gun owners. I view the NRA as the biggest threat in the country to my rights as a gun owner and sport shooter.

Their spokespeople come off as insane.  Ted Nuggent representing responsible gun ownership?  This freak boasted about fucking 14 year old little girls back in the 1970s.

Worse yet is the action movie commando mentality.

To many people act like they are the heroes in fucking video games defending the world from Zombies.  BTW Zombie is their latest code word for African American and other people of color along with the folks they call, “libtards.”

As a progressive I’m not going to blame the inanimate object.  It is too glib, too easy and too police state to do that.  Look at the criminalization of drugs.  The drugs aren’t responsible for the crime, the criminalization is.

The right wing used to beat up on lefties and liberals for placing the blame for crime committed by the underclasses upon society that perpetuated the underclasses.

The lefties and liberals were right.

We are not going to be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube on guns.  Too many people own them and too many people like owning them.  Besides, here in the US there is a history of that ownership and it is considered a right.

When we blame the gun for all this we are blaming an inanimate object.

Someone has to pull the trigger.

Someone has to have a different mindset from the person who goes and shoots targets, or hunts or even has a gun at home for self defense.

When corporations pour billions of dollars into advertising products, often times spending more on advertising a product than on making it they must believe that their repetitious messages work.

That thousands upon thousands of repetitions of a message will get inside at least a few heads and cause those people to follow the message being delivered.

We’ve had over forty years of the glamorizing of murder fed to us.

I watch British mysteries on the PBS Station here.  Murders one and all, often with realistic physical fights in them but without the graphic violence.

When I watch some of the gun show sponsored by the NRA and gun manufacturers I hear about how such and such gun was shown in various movies.

So many of these movies and television show teach how to kill without remorse. One of the things I remember from some of the early Bruce Lee films was that he showed remorse when he killed someone.

Now we have had forty years of violence as the solution, the dehumanizing of anyone but the dubious hero shoved into us.  More killing than takes place in a war zone. The creation of the idea of America being a free fire war zone.

Now we wonder why someone goes out and acts out a role in one of those action films.

With the ramping up of action movie violence the guns have gotten ever more extreme with grenade launchers, lights, laser sight and so much crap hanging off them they look like a walking gun accessory show.

The cop movies and cowboy movies of my childhood with the six shooters that never seemed to need reloading weren’t all that realistic, but I doubt Alan Ladd, Gary Cooper or even John Wayne would recognize the guns used today.

Or for that matter endorse the level of violence in today’s movies.

Consider the people who turned down the role of Dirty Harry.

From Wikipedia:

Details about the film were first released in film industry trade papers in April, September and November 1970 with Frank Sinatra attached as Harry Callahan and Irvin Kershner listed as director and producer with Arthur Jacobson acting as associate producer.[2]Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, and Burt Lancaster were also offered the role.[2] Mitchum dismissed this totemic role as “a piece of junk.”[9] In Dick Lochte‘s article, “Just One More Hangover: A Vodka-Soaked Afternoon with Robert Mitchum”, he writes: Mitchum always got “those prices” in those days. “Somebody says, ‘We really want you to do this script.’ And I say, ‘I’d need an awful lot of money in front to do that one.’ And that never seems to be a problem. The less I like the script, the higher my price. And they pay. They may pay in yen, but they pay. Not that I’m a complete whore, understand. There are movies I won’t do for any amount. I turned down Patton and I turned down Dirty Harry. Movies that piss on the world. If I’ve got $5 in my pocket, I don’t need to make money that fucking way, daddy.”

Sinatra actually accepted the role, however he had broken his wrist during the filming of The Manchurian Candidate eight years previously,[3] and during contract negotiations, he found the large handgun too unwieldy. Additionally, his father had recently died, and Sinatra decided he wanted to do some lighter material. In a 16 November 1970 Warner Bros. press release, it was announced that Sinatra would no longer be involved in the project. When Sinatra dropped out, so did Kershner.[4]

After Sinatra left the project, the producers started to consider younger actors for the role. Burt Lancaster turned down the lead role because he strongly disagreed with the violent, right-wing morals of the story. He believed the role and plot contradicted his belief in a collective responsibility for criminal and social justice and the protection of individual rights.[10]Marlon Brando was considered for the role, but was never formally approached. Both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman turned down the role.[2] McQueen refused to make another “cop movie” after Bullitt (1968). He would also turn down the lead in The French Connection the same year, giving the same reason. Believing the character was too “right-wing” for him, Newman suggested that the film would be a good vehicle for Eastwood.[8]

The screenplay was initially brought to Clint’s attention around 1969 by Jennings Lang and while still in post-production for his directorial debut film Play Misty for Me, Warner Bros offered him the part. By 17 December 1970, in a Warner Brothers studio press release it was announced that Clint Eastwood would star in as well as produce the film through his Malpaso Company.

Maybe we should also question the role of video games in desensitizing people to the act of murder.

When I practice at the range I am training deep muscle memory.  The targets are most often head and upper body silhouettes.  No human features yet I am aware that what I am in fact doing is training to automatically place a lethal shot in the heart region of a person.  Just like when I practiced Tae Kwon Do and repeated certain combinations of kicks and punches I was aware I was training to kill an attacker.

Take a step back to left clicking a mouse and blowing the brains out of a Nazi while playing Call of Duty.  It’s only bits and byte without even the feed back of the noise and recoil of a gun or the knuckle pain of punching a heavy bag or target.

Even less reason to think about the consequences.

We have soldiers coming back  from the Middle Eastern war zones and committing suicide because of the reality of what they saw.

Now we have the Zimmermans of the world acting like the lone avenger and this creep dressing up like the murderous amoral, Joker.

I think the joke is on us and the sort of society we created in order to bring about an imaginary right wing libertarian utopia.

The tough guy, rogue warrior turned domestic terrorist.

And a utopia for the tiny minority while turning the world into a dung heap for the majority.

Healthy SF to remove trans exclusions

From The Bay Area Reporter:

by Cynthia Laird
Published 07/19/2012

Nearly two years after a complaint was filed charging that Healthy San Francisco, the city’s health insurance program for uninsured residents, is discriminatory because it excludes services for transgender people, city officials are in the process of rectifying the situation and including such services in the program.

Supervisor Scott Wiener and transgender leaders met with the Bay Area Reporter Monday, July 16 and said that city officials are expected to soon sign off on the changes that would allow sexual reassignment services, treatment, and surgery to be covered for transgender patients just as they are now for non-trans patients.

Barbara Garcia, the director of the Department of Public Health, told the B.A.R. Monday that her agency is committed to the changes, but that it would take another year to year and a half before the administrative steps are implemented, due to contracting requirements.

“We’re totally committed to it,” Garcia said.

Wiener introduced a resolution at Tuesday’s board meeting calling on the health department to “provide medically necessary transition-related care for transgender people and to remove exclusions under the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance,” or Healthy SF.

Healthy SF is the city’s locally designed and funded universal health care program that was launched in 2007. It currently provides hormone treatment and mental health services to transgender participants, but administratively excludes sex reassignment surgery and denies coverage for certain surgical procedures to transgender people when the same procedures are provided to non-transgender participants, “thus denying transgender residents equal access to necessary health care under this local plan,” Wiener’s resolution states.

For example, a Healthy San Francisco participant diagnosed with breast cancer could have breast reduction surgery covered under the plan, but a female-to-male transgender person could not have the same surgery covered.

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Punk rock meets transgender blues

From The Copenhagen Post:

Shandana Mufti
July 19, 2012 – 10:35

When Against Me! played a show in Denmark in 2007, the band was fronted by Tommy Gabel. When they return to Copenhagen later this month, Laura Jane Grace may be clutching the microphone while belting out the band’s hits. A line-up change? Well, sort of.

After 31 years of struggle with gender dysphoria, and despite dropping strong hints about his sexuality in songs like ‘The Ocean’ – “And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/ My mother once told me she would have named me Laura” – Gabel finally went public with his gender identity. In a feature published by Rolling Stone in May, Gabel announced to the world that he was embarking upon the first steps to living life as a woman.

“I look like a dude and feel like a dude, and it sucks,” Gabel told Rolling Stone. “But eventually I’ll flip, and I’ll present as female.”

But this announcement isn’t stopping the band from making music or prompting discussions about disbandment. If anything, it’s provided Gabel with a brand new theme within the realm of self-discovery to explore as a songwriter. Against Me! began recording a concept album about a transgender prostitute in February. The writing process for the album, called Transgender Dysphoria Blues, provided Gabel with the impetus necessary to make the announcement to his bandmates, his friends and family, and to Rolling Stone’s readership.

“I think that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is always good for creativity,” Gabel told MTV News. “I’ve never been more further pushed out of my comfort zone than I am right now in my life.”

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US condom crackdown impeding efforts to prevent HIV, study finds

From The Guardian UK:

Research shows sex workers most at risk of HIV are afraid to carry a stock of condoms in case they are stopped by police

, health editor, Thursday 19 July 2012

Police in major cities in the United States are criminalising women who carry a stock of condoms, making sex workers and their clients less likely to use them and increasing their risk of contracting HIV, says Human Rights Watch.

A new report compiles evidence from sex workers in four major cities – Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Interviews with more than 300 people show that those most at risk of HIV, such as sex workers and transgender women, are afraid to carry condoms in case they should be stopped and searched by police.

“Some women told Human Rights Watch that they continued to carry condoms despite the harsh consequences. For others, fear of arrest overwhelmed their need to protect themselves from HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy,” says the report.

One of the interviewees, Carol F, a sex worker in Los Angeles, told HRW she had been arrested partly on the basis of carrying condoms. “After the arrest, I was always scared … There were times when I didn’t have a condom when I needed one, and I used a plastic bag,” she said.

Prostitution is a crime in 49 states of the US. Law enforcement agencies view the possession of multiple condoms as evidence that could help a court prosecution for a breach of the law.

But HRW says they are impeding efforts to prevent the spread of HIV, costing millions of dollars. “Enforcement … must be compatible with international human rights law, and governments should ensure that police policies and practices do not conflict with equally important public health policy imperatives, including those designed to curb the HIV epidemic,” says the report.

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Fischer: Gay Biological Parents Should be Denied Custody and Only Allowed Supervised Visits

From Right Wing Watch:

by Kyle Mantyla
on Tue, 07/17/2012

On his program yesterday, Bryan Fischer was discussing the study produced by professor Mark Regnerus purporting to show that children of same-sex parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents and the news that the University of Texas would be conducting an investigation into his study, seeing the latter as proof that “the homosexual lobby is vicious, they are venomous, [and] they are filled with hatred.”

During the discussion, Fischer cited the study as evidence that children in same-sex homes are at a higher risk for sexual molestation, prompting him to declare that any parent “who goes into the homosexual lifestyle after siring children” should be denied custody and only allowed to have supervised visits with their children:

Study: Millions of voters face ‘structural barriers’ due to voter ID laws

From Raw Story:

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

About 3 to 4 million voters affected by existing voter ID laws face enormous difficulties to get to the polls, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice.

The study says 1 in 10 voters in states with those laws – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin – fall below the federal poverty line and live more than 10 miles from the government office that issues identifications, often without a vehicle.

“What we found really undercuts the claim by many proponents of these laws that eligible voters can easily obtain an ID to vote,” one of the study’s authors, Keesha Gaskins, said at a Wednesday press conference. “Our findings demonstrate that there will very likely be a significant number of citizens who will struggle to obtain a photo ID due to structural barriers.”

The 10 states in question, the study says, are of particular importance in the 2012 presidential election, since they will provide 127 electoral votes, nearly 50 percent of the 270 needed to win the election.

The study says 500,000 eligible Latino voters and 1.2 million black voters live more than 10 miles from the nearest office where they can get an ID, and in several states, Gaskins said, less than half of those offices are open more than twice a week, and none of them are open weekends.

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