Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bias Crimes are Message Crimes

I was talking the other day to someone about hate, bias, violence, racism, and the methods that people and groups use to intimidate others. Today I saw a great post by David Neiwert of Orcinus. Neiwert has been writing brilliantly for years on the issues that I was discussing.

What I especially like about this post are the following things.

1) Neiwert explains what "hate crimes" really are, and he points out the willfull ignorance of some people (in this case Don Surber when it comes to the definition of what we have been calling hate crimes.

But even more important, most people who write about hate-crimes laws are aware that the term is something of a misnomer; what we call "hate crimes" are in fact known in the law as "bias crimes" -- crimes committed with a motivation of bias (racial, religious, ethnic, sexual, or gender) against the perceived class of the victim.

And to suggest that all violent crimes are bias crimes is, well, just plain ignorant. Crimes are committed out of a plenitude of motivations, and ethnic/religious/sexual biases constitute only a narrow band of them. Evidently, Surber is unaware of this.

He goes on to display even more ignorance:

Crime is the last segregated business in America. Most black crime victims are victims of blacks. White criminals generally pick white victims. If you are killed by a person of another color, does that make you more dead?

It seems that Surber labors under what's becoming an increasingly common misconception about how hate-crime laws work. They're not about interracial crime or, more generally, inter-identity crime. They're about, once again, bias crimes.


Hate crimes are message crimes: They are intended to harm not just the immediate victim, but all people of that same class within the community. Their message is also irrevocable: they are "get out of town, nigger/Jew/queer" crimes.

Read the whole post here. And if you want to discuss the topic intelligently that is a great place to do it. And, if you feel the need to play games launching your own views about what is or isn't a bias crime and what is or isn't an effective message to send about that kind of crime, please do it over at Dave's place. He really is an expert and along with Sara Robinson much better at helping people clarify their thinking on the topic. But if you willful use lame arguments like Surber's expect to be challenged.

Oh and while you are at it, buy one or more of Dave's books.

Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community

Strawberry Days will be especially interesting for people who watched Ken Burn's feature "The War" and it will also be good to read in case the government decides that all brown people who look like terrorists need to be rounded up based on no data other than their faith or browness.

Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, A Trial, and Hate Crime in America, Image above.

In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest

And, if you are a journalist in need to an expert on this topic, the next time there a bias crime that happens America, call or David. He will put it all in context for you and help educate you on the issues. Dave Neiwart should be your first stop when discussing the topic of "hate crimes" when it comes up in your state.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Who Would Jesus Shoot? UPDATED after Virginia Tech Shooting

This was first posted in October 13, 2005. After another round of school shootings. Today I'm reposting an update:

Virginia Tech Shooting, April 16 2007
This time around I'd like the parents of the dead children to talk personally with the NRA spokespeople. You want answers. Why did this happen? What forces are in place to make this kind of violence happen?
Don't bother asking the gun man why, he's dead. Talk to these people. They have answers (If you audio tape your phone call be sure to ask for permission first.)

The NRA spokespeople are the best in the world.

To contact an NRA spokesperson call them: Their PR firms is listed here: Here is the link to their results for NRA).

Shirley & Banister Public Affairs (link)
703 739-5920
800 536-5920 They are even in Virginia!

Ask for Diana Banister or Craig Shirley

(FYI: Diane is the one who does music for churches so if you are interested in the Christian angle to gun violence she probably is the one to talk to.)

I'm not kidding when I say these people are the world's best trained spokespeople, they are prepared to offer soothing sound bites for the parents of the dead. If you are in the media don't just talk to them one on one, you should really get them on the line together with friends and relatives of the dead. (And if you do talk to them please let us know what they say, we'll post the replies. I'll bet they are great and will be useful for other people to read.)

Those of you in the press who feel bad about interviewing the parents of dead children , why not call the NRA spokespeople? Do it NOW. Seriously.

It would be great TV/Radio. What, you think that it would be exploiting the tragedy? No.

When YOU call relatives you are already intruding, you are already exploiting the tragedy (and I know how much you HATE doing it, I would too). Now is the time to exploit the tragedy in a new way that will move the conversation forward with the two groups who are the most involved: The NRA the the Relatives of The Dead.

You are already pushing a view point when you call them. You KNOW that there will be screams for gun control right after this. Why not deal with WHERE the screams come from and WHY.

The people whose JOB it is to keep those screams silenced the rest of the year should deal with the sobbing parents, not you. You can understand. You see the pain. But you aren't the one who is working to ensure this kind of violence keeps happening.

Don't wait. This is raw emotion and I really would like the NRA people to be on air, on camera in the same frame with the people who have dead kids. Have them look into each other's eyes.

NRA spokespeople's
job every day is to make sure that these kind of great TV moments are played out over and over again. They have provided you TV people with excellent images and raw emotional interviews for years. Maybe it would be good if they could see what YOU see and talk to the people YOU talk to so that the next time they work to pass a bill, they can remember the look in the eyes of the parents and friends of the dead.


Who would Jesus Shoot? (original post)
I didn't complete a project on time last night so I punished myself by listening to our favorite morally repugnant pro-torture "theocon" radio host Brian Sussman.

I find his self proclaimed title as a theocon confusing. I missed the show were he talked about why Jesus was in support of the war in Iraq. I would have listened but I think I would have been afflicted by non-stop projectile vomiting.

One thing that I really would like the leadership of mainstream Christian churches to focus on would be separating themselves from people who claim to represent the values of Christianity. For example, I think most Christian leaders condemn Fred Phelps, (he of the famous "God Hates Fags" campaign). He's a hate-filled nut.

The right asks for the Mullahs to reign in their own crazy, Islamofacists who promote killing. That makes sense, don't you think they should also look at the log in their own eye at "theocons" (Christofacists?) who promote killing? War? Gun ownership? (Wow, would that freak out a few congregations!)

I'm curious, were there a bunch of ministers standing up against the "Kill Bill" that just went into effect in Florida? (Which was hysterically called something like the "Stand your Ground and Don't Run Away like a Girly Man if Anyone Scares You" bill.)

I know the NRA has done a lot of thinking about this. I have to give them credit, they are some of the most well prepared spokesmen on the planet. They have a reasonable sounding argument for every possible challenge to their most extreme rights. I'm sure that twisting Jesus' words into support of their "rights" is on page 2 of their spokesperson's handbook. And I'm sure they have plenty of priests, ministers, and nuns that they can trot out to support them.

Heck, even Spocko KNOWS some gun toting priests. But if pressed, I wonder how many will be behind everyone owning a machine gun? Well that's just what our favorite "theocon" father of five children under the age of 18 believes.

I think it's good Brian Sussman has gone on record with this pro-machine gun views. I also would like him to step forward and reaffirm his views every time children are killed with assault weapons. Better yet it would be swell if he talked to the parents of the dead. Now that would be some great radio! Even better TV! Can you imagine the show? "How are you feeling right now knowing that your daughter was blown away by the totally cool AK-47? Jesus must have really loved your husband to give him the privilege of getting his skull shattered by 12 rounds in rapid succession from a TEC-DC9. What? You aren't happy? Look, the death of your wife is a really small price to pay for the greater right of ours to have cool guns. The sooner you accept that fact the sooner I will be able to look at myself in the mirror."

It would be especially nice if he called up the parents of teen boys who blow their brains out with hand guns found in the home.

It really shouldn't be too hard of a call. "Hey Mom of dead teen, not having those hand guns in the house wouldn't have made any difference. He would have killed himself some other way. You obviously aren't a very responsibly parent if your kid got to your guns and used it. My kids would never do something so stupid. What do you mean you didn't think your kids would either? Well you shouldn't have left them out. Mine are in a safe and my kids don't know the combination. Oh, yours were too? Hmmm. Well I guess your kid is I mean WAS smarter than mine. Well, shit happens. I would say I'd pray for you, but everyone in my Christian community really are for MORE guns and against any kind of heathen gun control. Remember, Jesus said, 'Praise Me and Pass the Ammo!' And besides, only Godless liberals are for limiting guns. Don't look for any pro-gun control comfort from our community. Well have a nice day, there is a cooling front coming in from the north so bundle up!"

Finally, remember folks, if you son or daughter is playing over at the Sussman house, LOOK OUT! You know they've got guns, maybe the Mrs. should show you how safely they are stored. If some of Brian's Kids are in your classroom maybe you should take another look in their backpack! If you are members of Brian's congregation be sure to shake his hand after services and ask him what kind of assault weapon Jesus would be shooting.

Oh and if you are not happy with this kind of fun lovin' gun shooting talk from a Theocon, be sure to alert your favorite KSFO advertiser. Because you KNOW that the machine gun lovers will call the advertisers and tell them they LOVE what Brian is saying.

KSFO Advertisers Pick your favorite and tell 'em how much you appreciate Brian's gun lovin' ways. They have helpfully listed their websites for you to call or write them!

Of if you want to buy some ads on Brian's show be sure to call:

Michael Black, General Sales Manager
or E-Mail Michael Black at
(Hey look, KSFO is a Family Friendly ABC company! Machine Guns and Mickey go together like landmines and legs!)

Get your "Everything's an assault weapon... you could technically assault somebody with a potato peeler!" talking point ready for pamphleteering or cable access show debates.
- From "9 Tips For Assault Weapons Revelers" by Norbizness. Check out
his great site!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Talk Radio Wants War in Iran

When I talk about inciting violence on the radio it was often focused on individuals as well as groups. Stories about individuals as targets of violence was something that people could grasp as just plain wrong. But equally disturbing is the constant drum beat to use violence as the first and ONLY option in dealing with all foreign policy issues. Violence is THE knee jerk reaction of neocons and talk radio hosts. It makes them feel "manly".

Do they not feel the impact of this war? They must not.

Why else would they want to whip up the people for yet another war?

I'm getting really sick of this "who is a real man?" question. Calling Edwards "The Breck" girl as a slur. (I wonder how many overweight balding pundits would love to have Edward's good hair and looks?) And how would a "real man" respond to a hostage crisis?

They will bring up Jimmy Carter and misrepresent what happened and HOW it happened and WHO did what when. They will forget the REAL role their god Ronnie played in that affair.

It really is all about THEIR "masculinity" or their idea of what it takes to be a man. People who think that bombing people is the right response to any situation are not strong.

Do you care more about getting the 15 people out of harms way or do you care more about "looking weak"? Do they care more about "sending a message" than saving the messenger?

What if you knew that you had a solution that would make you look weak to the pundits but would definitely guarantee that those people would live AND you wouldn't have to deal with all the mess that a bombing run would start? Would you take it?

And WHO are you afraid of calling you a coward? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? People who have never served, who have to use chemicals to get it up and get off?

You want to prove you are strong and SMART? Figure out a way to get them out without getting into another war. That is what a real man does.

A real man worries less about what Chris Matthews thinks of him and more about the lives of his troops. A real man cares more about effective action that being called weak by some entertainer.

Only the people who are REALLY insecure care more about the opinions of some chattering class than real lives.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

McCain Brand Slippage on "Straight Talk Express"

A good friend of my bragged about how the ties he bought were all silk but he only paid 2 dollars a piece for them. They looked 100% polyester to me and I wondered how they could be all silk at that low price. He flipped the tie over and showed me the brand name label on the tie.
"All Silk"®

Of course the tie was made out of polyester, but the large brand name label said "All Silk"®

I think about that story and the John McCain Straight Talk Express.®

How do you know that he's giving you the straight talk? Well, you are ON the Straight Talk Express®, so you must be getting straight talk!

Media Matters shows ABC's Tapper gushing
about McCain as a straight talker because he's back on the Straight Talk Express® Bus.

And as worrierking from the Media Matters comments section points out:

Straight Talk My Ass.

[link to]

Just because you name your bus the Straight Talk Express"® doesn't mean anything, except to people who are easily lead by apperances. You need to ask "Is the outside appearance consistent with inside?" If it isn't, stop referring to the outside as if it reflects the inside, unless you are being sarcastic.

If you call your self a Pro-Troop group but you really are the, "Get Cindy Sheehan, Stalking Tour" then the media should ask you, "Why the anger at Cindy Sheehan. Did she kill your son? Why the promoting of potential conflict with Code Pink? Are you really more concerned with supporting the troops or making Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink look like criminals?" I hope the media asks THESE questions of the Move America Forward "pro-troop" rally on Saturday.

And if they don't ask those questions maybe they should check their ties, they are probably "All Silk"®

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jamison Foser Explains it All to You

An EXCELLENT recap and analysis of this week's news stories by Jamison Foser of Media Matters. The whole article is excellent, but I especially liked the second section: The media's blogger double standard. Did I say how excellent it is? No? Well it really is excellent.

I'm also waiting for Eric Boehlert's analysis next week on the radio, blog and main stream media's assault on Nancy Pelosi under the Clinton rules of journalmalism.

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