Notes and Comment Blog

Whatever pronoun they wish

Oct 19th, 2016 5:51 pm | By

Pestilence, war, famine, and…pronouns.

The University of Toronto has slapped down a professor who openly criticized the use of gender-neutral pronouns and political correctness at the post-secondary institution.

Jordan Peterson, a psychology prof, was sent a letter Tuesday that told him that he must refer to students by whatever pronoun they wish — not just ‘he’ or ‘she’ — and that he must also refrain from making public statements on the topic.

Whatever pronoun they wish? What if every student comes up with a different “pronoun”; how is Peterson supposed to refer to them [or whatever “pronoun” “they” are using instead of “them”…] in that case? Is he expected to memorize every single new pronoun? Will he be punished if he forgets one, or accidentally switches them?

Also…what the hell has happened to the left that pronouns have become the hill it wants to die on? It’s so ludicrous. How often do teachers “refer to” students anyway? Mostly they talk to students, and “you” isn’t gendered; is the occasional use of “her” or “him” really such a throbbingly urgent matter?

Well, in my view, no, it’s not, and the enraged obsession with it looks decidedly infantile, or perhaps just narcissistic. I get that people want to be “validated” but I think that’s mostly just too much to expect of other people in general. We can’t expect other people in general to give enough of a shit about us to “validate” us – they have other things to do. We all have other things to do. It’s not our job to “validate” people. Treat them decently, yes, refrain from harassing or bullying them, yes, but validate them, no. And I think it’s ludicrous that a university is telling a professor what third person pronouns he can use.

The professor published two YouTube videos on the topic of political correctness in response to the university’s plan to conduct anti-racism and anti-bias programs.

His comments sparked tense rallies both for and against his position, which argued against gender-neutral pronouns and in favour of free speech.

The university said the refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns when asked would be discrimination.

Universities should not be telling professors what words they have to say. That’s for the professors to decide. They can tell them some words not to say; nobody wants professors calling students names, and especially not politically fraught names – cunt, nigger, faggot, kike; you know the ones. But what words to say? What pronouns to say? No.

The U of T letter, signed jointly by arts and science dean David Cameron and faculty and academic life vice-provost Sioban Nelson, said the university is committed to free speech but that right has limits.

“Your statements that you will refuse to refer to transgendered persons using gender neutral pronouns if they ask you to do so are contrary to the rights of those persons to equal treatment without discrimination based on their ‘gender identity’ and gender expression,’” the letter says.

Notice the scare quotes on “gender identity.” They’re not sure gender identity is a real thing, but they’re bullying Peterson over it anyway.

I look forward to the time when we’ve moved beyond The Great Pronoun Wars.

Hitting with sticks

Oct 19th, 2016 3:57 pm | By

The Daily Mail shares a group of upsetting photos of a woman being beaten with a stick in Aceh, Indonesia, for “standing too close to her boyfriend.”

Heart-wrenching images show a screaming young woman flogged in front of a jeering crowd for breaking Islamic laws as floggings reportedly spike in Indonesian province.

An unidentified woman screamed out in pain as she was caned 23 times in Indonesia’s Aceh for breaking the province’s strict Islamic law forbidding intimacy between unmarried couples.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that enforces sharia law and people face floggings for a range of offences, including gambling, drinking alcohol and gay sex.

A woman was punished and flogged 23 times for getting too close to a male counterpart 

The evil god strikes again – inspiring fanatics to hit people with sticks for being affectionate with lovers. The evil god approves of hitting people with sticks and hates affection between people. What a horrendous god it is.

She was one of 13 people – aged between 21-30 – to be flogged on Monday at a mosque.

The woman was allegedly caught standing too close to her boyfriend.

The six couples were found guilty of breaking Islamic law that bans intimacy – no touching, hugging and kissing – between unmarried people.

Intimacy is a good thing, when it’s mutually wanted. Hitting people with sticks is a bad thing. The laws in Aceh are fucked up.

With a reported increase in floggings of women, Daily Mail reported Nur Elita was marched to the yard of Baiturrahumim Mosque in Banda Aceh at the end of last year and received five lashes.

Ms Elita keeled over in pain at the end of her lashings as she had to be carried off stage and taken to hospital.

She received her harsh floggings for getting to close to a fellow university student – who was also whipped.

Ms Elita keeled over in pain at the end of her lashings as she had to be carried off stage and taken to hospital

A scene out of a nightmare.

Even in the face of death threats

Oct 19th, 2016 3:31 pm | By

Zineb El Rhazoui is still speaking out.

Zineb El Rhazoui was 1,500 miles away, on vacation in Morocco, when gunmen forced their way into the Paris offices of the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, fatally shooting nine people. As the publication’s religion writer, she would ordinarily have also been present at the editorial meeting which was targeted by terrorists Saïd and Chérif Kouachi — motivated, it is thought, by the magazine’s controversial depictions of Muhammad and various Muslim clerics.

For the 20 months since the massacre of her colleagues, El Rhazoui has remained steadfast in her critiques of extremist Islamism, including publishing two books — even in the face of death threats.

She has a baby now…but she still doesn’t see backing down as an option.

“After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, when I started to be targeted by all of those fatwas, a lot of people told me, ‘Why don’t you go somewhere in the world, change your name, and live happily with your family?’ and I thought about it. But I felt that if I go somewhere, if I stop being the person I am, if I change my name and hide my identity, it’s exactly like I was killed also on the 7th of January.”

Hundreds of thousands of people are waging the same battle against oppression that she is, she reasons, and without protections — just as journalists around the world are remaining courageous in the face of threats to their lives.

“I don’t have the right to shut my mouth,” she said.

“I don’t have the right to be silent.”

All this terrorizing for the sake of an imagined jealous god.

That’s a particular pronoun

Oct 19th, 2016 11:07 am | By

Clown car.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joined a teleconference last night hosted by the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) to discuss the presidential election, warning the group that if Hillary Clinton is allowed to nominate Supreme Court justices, she could pick “fanatics who want to impose a secular America on the rest of us” and who might even go so far as to require churches to remove the words “our Father” from the Lord’s Prayer.

Mature citizens? Meaning old, or meaning grown-up as opposed to like-Trump?

Anyway – no, she couldn’t, and wouldn’t, and isn’t going to. Sit down and stop being so ludicrous, Newt. Be a Mature American Citizen.

Claiming that recent WikiLeaks emails show that Clinton’s aides are “radically anti-religious” and “radically anti-Christian,” Gingrich said that this means that Clinton’s court picks would be “people who do not believe in the right of religious liberty, people who believe that the government should define what you’re allowed to say, even in church.”

“And, by the way,” he continued, “there’s an organization in Massachusetts now, a government commission on transgender rights, that’s looking at potentially defining for churches what kinds of pronouns they could use, raising the specter, for example, of eliminating ‘our Father’ from the Lord’s Prayer, because, after all, that’s a particular pronoun.”


The pronoun there is “our,” which, like “my” and “your” and “their,” is not gendered.

But more substantively, of course they’re not going to do that or anything like it. Messing with churches and other religious clubhouses is something US politicians are terrified of doing, even when they need to, such as when priests are raping children with impunity, or when Catholic hospitals are refusing to perform abortions even when a pregnancy is about to kill the woman hosting it.

They’ll say anything.

Call out ALL the slut shaming

Oct 19th, 2016 10:38 am | By

Asra Nomani and Masih Alinejad (of My Stealthy Freedom) on Nazi Paikidze-Barnes’s boycott of the Women’s World Chess Championship:

To us, Paikidze should not have to boycott the tournament, which an Iranian Woman Grandmaster said would hurt the progress of women’s chess in the country. Instead, Iran should respect her choice, make the headscarf optional and lift its ban on women who choose not to cover their hair.

The 22-year-old U.S. chess champion’s sincere protest is a remarkable checkmate to the government of Iran and other fundamentalist elements in our Muslim societies, who peddle “hijab” as a virtual sixth pillar of Islam for women.

If Allah is so desperate for women to wear hijab, why didn’t he (yes he) just make them with hijab pre-installed?

In a countermove, Susan Polgar, the Hungarian-born American chair of FIDE’s Commission for Women’s Chess, said she has “respect” for “cultural differences,” even noting the “beautiful choices” of scarves Iranian organizers provided women in the past.

You might as well rhapsodize about the view from Raif Badawi’s prison cell.

While American liberals call out the “slut shaming” of beauty queen Alicia Machado, they too often sacrifice their values and stay silent on the idea of the hijab. Paikidze’s protest is a welcome departure from politicians, journalists, nonprofit leaders and fashion designers who express, for lack of a better word, a hijab fetish, which romanticizes and normalizes the hijab. Indeed, hijab fetishists are like pawns for the clerics, blinded to the fact that the hijab is a symbol of sexism, misogyny and purity culture.

And is itself a very intrusive form of slut shaming, one that treats all girls and women as sluts in need of shaming.

Compulsory hijab is not part of our culture. Yet women are criminals in Iran if they remove their headscarves to feel the wind in their hair. Forcing women to cover their hair imposes a false identity on us. For years, a battery of Iranian clerics had the advantage of the bully pulpit, boasting that women embraced the hijab, but, since the launch of the #MyStealthyFreedom campaign, thousands of women have posted selfies without headscarves, showing the emptiness of the mullahs’ claim.

As many liberals and Muslims shiver at the idea of a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Iran is banning women such as Paikidze who don’t believe in covering their hair. She won the right to compete in a world championship that Iran won the right to host. In the spirit of a history that welcomed seafarers, spice traders, merchants and orphans through the span of the Persian Empire, Iran has a choice on its next move: continue its ban or host a world championship that accepts a young chess champion from America, as she is, brilliant, dynamic, collegial — and scarf-less.

My Stealthy Freedom posted this a couple of days ago:

First time in Iran, none Iranian athletes without compulsory hijab

تیم فوتسال زنان روسی را در داخل ایران به زور با حجاب نکردند، چرا زنان شطرنج باز نباید اعتراض کنند تا حجاب برای آنها هم زوری نباشد؟
Russian women play futbal without hijab in Iran after pressure from Russian federation.
These days, Fide, the chess federation, has given in to Islamic Republic’s demand that chess players competing in Tehran’s Women Chess championship must wear compulsory hijab. As everyone can see, Iranian government can be flexible if you protest instead of obeying a discriminatory law. Isn’t it time for Fide to stand up for women chess players?
جلوی ورود خبرنگاران ایرانی به این بازی گرفته شد ولی این عکس ها را رسانه های روسی منتشر کردند. این یعنی می شود قهرمانان شطرنج را هم در خاک ایران پذیرفت بدون آنکه حجاب زوری را به آنها تحمیل کرد اگر به جای تسلیم شدن در برابر حجاب اجباری اعتراض صورت بگیرد.

What about it, Iran? If footballers can play without hijab, why can’t chess players?

Case dismissed

Oct 19th, 2016 9:16 am | By

A judge threw out the charges against Amy Goodman on Monday.

Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now, was facing riot charges related to a report she filed earlier this month from a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. At a hearing Monday in Mandan, North Dakota, Judge John Grinsteiner ruled there was no probable cause to support the allegations, and he dismissed the case.

The attempted prosecution caused an outcry among environmentalists and free-press advocates. “We are dismayed that a prosecutor has filed charges against Amy Goodman, who was just doing her job by covering protests,” wrote Carlos Lauría of the Committee to Protect Journalists in a statement.

Yet again, this isn’t really a good thing, it’s just a bad thing averted – and only partially averted at that, since (as Jamila Bey pointed out on Facebook) the intimidation effect remains. Other accused journalists also remain.

Goodman is not the only journalist to be arrested this month while covering pipeline protests in North Dakota. Last week, documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was arrested while filming demonstrators who shut down tar sands pipelines in Wallhala. Deia is facing three felony charges, which reports say carry a combined maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.

Maybe she won’t get the same result as Goodman.

Let him leave the country

Oct 19th, 2016 8:20 am | By

From the Raif Badawi Foundation:

As of today, we received from a private source the sad news concerning the fact that the Saudi government will resume the lashing punishment against M. Raif Badawi.

Our source is the same that informed us about the first 50 lashes M. Raif Badawi received in a public place on January 9, 2015. Our understanding of the information is that another series of lashes punishment will take place this time inside the prison.

We kindly ask the Saudi government and we pledge the Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Nayef Al Saoud, first deputy Prime minister and minister of interior and the Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane Al Saoud, second vice premier minister, to stop the inhuman punishment. At the same time we ask them to deprive M. Raif Badawi of his Saudi Citizenship and let him leave the country for Quebec (Canada) and be reunited with his family.



Oct 19th, 2016 8:07 am | By

It appears that Saudi Arabia plans to resume flogging Raif Badawi.

In a statement, the Raif Badawi Foundation said it had received the confirmation from the same source that had notified his family and associates about the first set of 50 lashes, which were served on January 9, 2015. The foundation did not specify who the source was.

In contrast to the first round of punishment, which was performed in a public place, the next lashing was reportedly due to be carried out inside prison. Following injuries after his first flogging, Badawi’s remaining 950 lashes had to be postponed indefinitely.

Our ally, Saudi Arabia.

Badawi received his first 50 lashes in January 2015, sustaining sufficient injuries for the sentence to be suspended for nearly two years. Amid the international condemnation that ensued, the 32-year-old received numerous human rights awards, including the Sakharov Prize and the BOB award, DW’s recognition for Freeedom of Speech.

Badawi’s wife, who is allowed to speak to him on the phone once or twice a week, said that his health had suffered considerably since he was given the sentence. Badawi has also reportedly been on sustained hunger strike on at least two occasions.

God works in mysterious ways.

He sees it as a geopolitical issue

Oct 18th, 2016 5:47 pm | By

Those trade deals, and the way free trade can overrule all kinds of regulation – environmental, labor, consumer, all of it. The New Republic asked Bernie Sanders about that.

I don’t think that anybody would debate that the gap between Democratic leadership and grassroots America is very, very wide, and that has a lot to do with the fact that over the last 30 to 40 years, Democrats have spent so much time raising money. People are just astounded by the amount of time somebody like Hillary Clinton spends talking to 20 people so she can walk away with a few hundred thousand dollars, rather than relying on ordinary people.

One issue that will affect working people is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade pact being pushed by President Obama. You tried to get a commitment in the party’s platform to not hold a vote on TPP, but you were unsuccessful. Are you worried that there is going to be an attempt to pass it in the lame-duck session of Congress?

Yes. The president has been adamant in his support for the TPP. I spent a half-hour with him on the phone talking about the issue. He is dead wrong, but he feels very, very strongly about it.

The corporate world virtually never loses on trade. Since I’ve been here, they always win. Wall Street, drug companies, corporate America—that is a very heavy-duty group. When they push with their unlimited sums of money, they can make things happen. I will do everything that I can to rally the American people to understand that TPP is a continuation of disastrous trade policies, and that it should not be passed.

So why does President Obama think it’s a good idea?

He sees it as a geopolitical issue. He does not pretend, as previous presidents have, that this is going to create all kinds of jobs in America. His argument is that if you abandon the TPP, you’re gonna leave Asia open to Chinese influence.

So he’s not making a NAFTA argument—that a rising tide of trade will lift all boats.

Right—that mythology seems to have disappeared. But one of the interesting things about the TPP, in particular, is not just that it’s gonna force American workers to compete against people making pennies an hour in Vietnam or slave labor in Malaysia. It also includes an investor-state dispute system. If my state of Vermont, or the United States government for that matter, passes a piece of legislation designed to protect the health of the American people or the environment, then that government entity could be sued by a multinational foreign corporation, because the legislation would impact the corporation’s future profits. As an example, Obama did the right thing in killing the Keystone pipeline, because he concluded that it would add to the crisis we’re facing from climate change. But the United States is now being sued for $15 billion by TransCanada, the owner of the pipeline, because NAFTA bars governments from taking actions that limit the profits of a multinational corporation. And the lawsuit doesn’t go to an American court. It goes to a three-person tribunal, which is made up of corporate lawyers.

Under these trade agreements, the president must accede to corporate profits. If a poor country wants cheap prescription drugs for malaria or for AIDS, and a corporation says you can’t use a generic product because we can make more money by keeping the brand name, then people will die in that country, and likely the tribunal will sustain that. This is a world of insanity, and it’s enshrined in the TPP.

That. I think that is entirely wrong, and terrible, and we seem to be stuck with it. We’ve been objecting to it since the Clinton administration, but we seem to be stuck with it.

If you start whining before the game’s even over

Oct 18th, 2016 5:27 pm | By

Obama tells the bully-in-chief to stop whining.

“I’d advise Mr Trump to stop whining and try to make his case to get votes,” Mr Obama said.

“By the way,” he added, “[it] doesn’t really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you want out of a president, if you start whining before the game’s even over.

“If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose you start blaming somebody else, then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”

That’s true in various other ways too – the pussy-grabbing, the bullying, the egomania, the ignorance, the obvious lying, the cheating and fraud, the sexism, the racism…

Mr Obama also addressed the Republican candidate’s admiring remarks about Vladimir Putin.

“Mr Trump’s continued flattery of Mr Putin and the degree to which he appears to model much of his policies and approach to politics on Mr Putin is unprecedented,” he said.

His broadside comes a day after Mr Trump said he would consider visiting Russia before taking office, if elected.

He told a talk-radio host: “If I win on November 8, I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration.”

“Meeting with Russia” – he’d need to hire an awfully big hall.

Look up what happened to Eugene Debs

Oct 18th, 2016 11:42 am | By

Bernie Sanders urges us to keep in mind that change never happens overnight.

I would ask people to take a look at history and to understand that change never, ever, ever comes about in a short period of time. To take a look at the struggles of the civil rights movement, of the women’s movement, of the union movement, of the gay movement, of the environmental movement, and to understand that all of those movements took years and years and are still in play today.

“It’s not gonna happen overnight. You gotta put your shoulder to the wheel and keep going.”

In the campaign, what we did is show the American people that the ideas the establishment had thought were fringe were really not fringe—that millions of people want to transform this country. It’s not gonna happen overnight. The fight has got to continue. And if you are serious about politics, then you gotta put your shoulder to the wheel and keep going. Sometimes the choices that are in front of you are not great choices, but you do the best you can. And the day after the election, you continue the effort.

Anyone who thinks that Hillary Clinton will not be more sympathetic, more open to the ideas we have advocated than Donald Trump obviously knows very little. So the day after the election, we begin the effort of making Clinton the most progressive president that she can become. And the way we do that is by rallying millions of people….

Look up what happened to Eugene Debs. He spent his life working to build a socialist movement, only to see it destroyed. Then ten years later, FDR picked up half of what Debs was talking about.

Mind you, FDR was able to do that only because there was a massive depression, and capitalism needed to be saved from itself.

I can’t say I’m confident that Clinton will listen to progressives more than to bankers – but I agree that we should give it our best shot.

Go sit there with your friends

Oct 18th, 2016 11:00 am | By

Talking Points Memo on Trump and voter intimidation.

Civil rights  groups are already gearing up for an especially tense Election Day. Meanwhile, the federal government has been hobbled by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in its ability to monitor elections in places with histories of voter intimidation. Of particular concern are states with loose open carry laws, where already, some armed Trump supporters have shown an interest in making their presence known at voting sites.

“The idea that people would be standing outside the polls with guns, or even inside the polls with guns, clearly has the potential to turn people away. There’s a long history of this,” said Deuel Ross, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is very active in voting rights litigation.

And it’s what Trump actually wants to happen.

Trump has for months complained about the possibility of an election somehow “rigged” against him, but recently, the rhetoric has taken on a more ominous, and even racially-tinged tone, that specifically mentions voter fraud at the ballot box. Last week, he told a mostly white crowd in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, to “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us.” He said at rally in Michigan late last month that his supporters, after they vote, should “pick some other place … and go sit there with your friends and make sure it’s on the up and up.”

He’s telling his fans to intimidate voters.

Bad times.

The Voting Rights Act includes a provision that prohibits any attempt to “intimidate, threaten, or coerce” a person trying to vote, and there’s a section of the federal criminal code banning voter intimidation as well. In theory, that could set up a confrontation between federal voter intimidation laws and state open-carry laws (federal law would generally trump state law). However, according to Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, federal laws are rarely ever used to address voter intimidation claims.

“There’s not just much of a history of the federal government using them,” Clarke said, adding that her group, which monitors elections to ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot, is more reliant on state and local systems to address instances of voter intimidation.

The Shelby ruling has made it harder for the Feds to watch out for voter intimidation.

The DOJ interpreted the ruling to have also curtailed its ability deploy election observers to the 11 states previously covered by preclearance. This election, the DOJ will only have its elections monitoring program set up in five states — Alabama, Alaska, California, Louisiana, and New York — where federal court decisions have authorized it do so, Reuters reported this summer.

“That safeguard of having specially-trained individuals on behalf of the federal government inside the polls won’t be in place in many communities this November, creating a potentially toxic and vulnerable situation for some voters,” Clarke said.

Because the five conservative justices were wrong that the safeguards aren’t needed any more. So wrong.

It’s worth noting that the Republican National Committee has been under a three-decade-old consent decree — that the Supreme Court in 2013 refused to lift — barring it from engaging in any sort of “ballot security” efforts targeting minorities. The decree is the result of RNC activity decades ago — including the hiring of off-duty cops to patrol around election sites — that Democrats alleged amounted to voter intimidation.

At least one election law expert, UC-Irvine School of Law’s Rick Hasen, has argued that Trump may have violated the decree in his calls for vigilante poll watchers if one interpreted him to be an agent of the RNC. Clarke, meanwhile, called for the RNC case to serve as a guide for what can and cannot be done at the polls in November.

Bad times.

With a growing sense of alarm

Oct 18th, 2016 10:31 am | By

The Boston Globe a few days ago on Trump’s paranoia-stoking.

“It’s one big fix,’’ Trump said Friday afternoon in Greensboro, N.C. “This whole election is being rigged.’’

He saved some of his harshest criticism for the media, which he said is in league with Clinton to steal the election.

“The media is indeed sick, and it’s making our country sick, and we’re going to stop it,” he said.

Mainstream Republicans are watching these developments at the top of the ticket with a growing sense of alarm, calling Trump’s latest conspiracy theories of a rigged election irresponsible and dangerous. They also say the impact of voter fraud or errors on the outcome of elections is vastly overblown.

It surprises me a little that there is apparently no one grown-up and responsible who can reach him – who can sit him down and tell him to take a deep breath, think about something other than himself, and stop trying to burn everything down around him to avenge his defeat. You’d think there would be someone.

While voters have certainly questioned election outcomes, it is unprecedented for the nominee of a major party to do so, historians say.

“What’s really distinct is the candidate himself putting this out front and center as a consistent theme throughout the last part of the campaign, and doing it when there’s no evidence of anything,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University presidential scholar.

Yeah well. Trump is probably the biggest egomaniac in the universe, so nearly everything about his “campaign” is unprecedented.

Trump has recently started encouraging his mostly white supporters to sign up online to be “election observers” to stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.” He’s urging them to act as posses of poll watchers in “other” communities to ensure that things are “on the up and up.”

“Watch your polling booths,” he warned.

His supporters are heeding the call. “Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio.

“I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

That is illegal.

The Voting Rights Act includes a provision that prohibits any attempt to “intimidate, threaten, or coerce” a person trying to vote, and there’s a section of the federal criminal code banning voter intimidation as well.

It’s illegal to go right up behind them. It’s illegal to make them a little bit nervous.

He would “go right up behind them”

Oct 18th, 2016 10:11 am | By

The Times editorial board says Republicans should stop ignoring Trump’s lies about a “rigged” election.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, are the two most powerful Republicans in the country and should be willing to put the national interest above their own. Both know full well that there is no “rigging,” and yet between them they have managed one tepid response to Mr. Trump’s outrageous accusations: “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results,” Mr. Ryan’s spokeswoman said, “and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”

This is like standing back while an arsonist pours gasoline all over your house, then expressing confidence that the fire department will get there in time.

Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell could hardly dishonor themselves more than they already have in this sordid election year, but their refusal to stand up to Mr. Trump’s pernicious lie may be their lowest moment yet.

But Ryan and McConnell aren’t even the worst.

Other high-profile Republicans have amplified Mr. Trump’s charges and further riled up his angry base. On Saturday, Senator Jeff Sessions, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from Alabama, told a crowd at a Trump rally in New Hampshire that “they are attempting to rig this election.” On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and now Mr. Trump’s race-baiting surrogate, told CNN that he would be a “moron” to believe that the voting in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia would be fair to Mr. Trump. “I have found very few situations where Republicans cheat,” Mr. Giuliani said. “They don’t control the inner cities the way Democrats do.”

Giuliani is being relentlessly disgusting.

Trump apologists claim that when he says the election is rigged, he is only referring to critical media coverage, but that’s demonstrably false. Either way, some of his supporters have swallowed his lies and are threatening to act as vigilante poll watchers on Election Day. One Trump supporter in Ohio told The Boston Globe that he would look for “Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American” and that he would “go right up behind them” and “make them a little bit nervous.”

Trump is the candidate of the bullies. That’s his core platform – bullying. Bullying women, bullying foreigners and immigrants, bullying brown people, bullying libbruls – bullying most of the population.

If that’s helping…

Oct 17th, 2016 5:14 pm | By

21 of the Chibok girls kidnapped into sex slavery by Boko Haram have been freed.

In an emotional ceremony in the capital Abuja, one of the girls said they had survived for 40 days without food and narrowly escaped death at least once.

It is unclear how the release was negotiated, but an official says talks are under way to free some more girls.

Of the 276 students kidnapped in April 2014, 197 are still missing.

197, two and a half years into their enslavement.

Many of the kidnapped students were Christian but had been forcibly converted to Islam during captivity.

Another girl said: “We never imagined that we would see this day but, with the help of God, we were able to come out of enslavement.”

But God could have freed all of the girls, as soon as they were kidnapped – or just prevented them from being kidnapped in the first place. I don’t see why God gets credit for such delayed, incomplete, grudging “help.” And what about the kidnappers, who doubtless credit God with helping them kidnap 276 girls to rape?

Not that I want to jeer at them for it, but I think it’s sad that the tyrant god gets thanked no matter what happens, and credited for helping when 197 girls are still out there.

Cut off

Oct 17th, 2016 4:17 pm | By

Ecuador has cut off Julian Assange’s internet. The poor guy. He’s had to hide out in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012 on account of how he didn’t feel like answering to a rape charge.

“We have activated the appropriate contingency plans,” added the Twitter message on Monday. People close to WikiLeaks say that Assange himself is the principal operator of the website’s Twitter feed.

Over the last two weeks, Democratic Party officials and U.S. government agencies have accused the Russian government, including the country’s “senior-most officials,” of pursuing a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

WikiLeaks has been one of the most prominent internet outlets to post and promote hacked Democratic Party materials. While denying any connection with a Russian hacking campaign, Assange has refused to disclose WikiLeaks’ sources for hacked Democratic Party messages.

Assange is an egomaniacal weasel.

He never spoke to her

Oct 17th, 2016 11:42 am | By

The facts of the retrial and acquittal of Ched Evans don’t make it any easier to understand how it happened.

The appeal court judgment – which was made before the retrial, but can only now be reported – allowed new evidence from two witnesses who gave testimony about the complainant’s sexual preferences and the language she used during sex. It led to her being questioned in detail in open court about intimate details of her sex life.

Evans, who has played for Wales and Sheffield United and was a member of the Manchester City youth setup, spent two and a half years in prison after being convicted in 2012 of raping the young woman following a drunken night out in his home town of Rhyl, north Wales.

Following his conviction, a well-funded legal and PR campaign that included the offer of a £50,000 reward for information leading to his acquittal was launched by family and friends. The campaign eventually resulted in the case going to the court of appeal in London, where his conviction was quashed.

So it helps to be rich.

The woman told the jury she woke up naked in a hotel room in Rhyl, north Wales, in May 2011 with no memory of what had happened but fearing that her drinks had been spiked. Friends encouraged her to go to the police, and officers found out that the room in which she woke up had been booked and paid for by Evans. He was questioned, and both he and his friend and fellow footballer Clayton McDonald said they had consensual sex with the woman.

The prosecution said she could not possibly have consented, as she was too intoxicated. She has never alleged that Evans or McDonald raped her.

In court, Evans admitted that he lied to get the key for the hotel room and did not speak to the woman before, during or after sex. He left via a fire exit. It also emerged that Evans’s younger brother and another man were trying to film what was happening from outside the room.

He never spoke to her so how can the sex possibly have been consensual?

I feel sick.

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “We are very concerned at the precedent which might have been set. In addition to this, there are reports that the defence offered a ‘bounty’ for such testimony. This is extremely worrying. We will review the case in full and may contact the Crown Prosecution Service and the government about aspects of this case which raise concern.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “There is a big risk that this case overall has a negative impact on reporting. Only this week CPS figures revealed a quarter of women are not pursuing cases. If you look at the surrounding maelstrom about this case, it’s easy to see why that is the case.

“A woman’s past sexual history bears no relevance on whether or not they have been a victim of rape. There is a need to challenge pervasive cultural assumptions that equate a woman’s former sexual history with her likelihood of being a victim of rape.”

Not feeling any less sick.

Updating to add – a friend on Facebook tells me the victim never even wanted to prosecute, and she was compelled to testify. Godalfuckingmighty.

His life

Oct 17th, 2016 11:10 am | By

Ched Evans put out a “statement” on his acquittal. It is, of course, disgusting.

In the early hours of 30th May 2011 an incident occurred in North Wales that was to change my life and the lives of others for ever. That incident did not involve the commission of a criminal offence and today I am overwhelmed with relief that the Jury agreed.

“An incident occurred” – by which he means his friends found a falling down drunk woman outside a kebab shop and brought her to a hotel room, where he fucked her. But it sounds so much nicer if you call it an incident and say it occurred.

Whilst my innocence has now been established, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise to anyone who might have been affected by the events of the night in question.

“Anyone”…who “might have” been…”affected”…by the “events”…

But does he apologize to the woman he fucked after she’d been “brought” to a hotel room by strangers who found her falling down drunk outside?

Following yesterday’s decision at Cardiff crown court I want to stress that I absolutely disassociate myself from anyone who names on any forum the woman in this case. Or makes any offensive comments about her.

Oh, well, that’s all right then. As long as he’s not associated with it, that’s what counts.

He called some men

Oct 17th, 2016 10:47 am | By

The Independent on the Ched Evans retrial.

A former solicitor general has condemned the way the Ched Evans rape trial was conducted.

Vera Baird told the BBC details of the woman’s sexual past should not have been heard in court and the case could discourage people who are sexually assaulted from reporting it to police.

The 27-year-old footballer was cleared on Friday of raping a woman in a hotel room in 2011, only after her sexual history was scrutinised before a jury. Evans was initially found guilty of the rape in 2012.

And you think that might deter women from reporting rape? Just a little?

While he was in prison, Evans’ family and friends offered £50,000 for information that might clear his name and hired private investigators to help free him.

The new evidence concerned two other men who claimed they had sex with the woman around the same time as the alleged rape and who described their encounters as similar to Evans’ account of what happened.

Defence lawyers have been banned from cross-examining alleged rape victims in court about their sexual behaviour or history since 1999, but the Court of Appeal said Evans’ case was exceptional.

Because hey, the guy is a footballer. You can’t be putting them in the slammer, not on the word of some slut.

Lady Justice Hallett ruled it was a “rare case” in which it would be appropriate to allow “forensic examination” of the woman’s sexual behaviour.

“Lady Justice”??? Are men called “Gentleman Justice”? No. So why “Lady Justice”?* Anyway – it was a “rare case” because the accused was a footballer.

Ms Baird, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner who played a large role in changing the law in the nineties, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The only difference between a clear conviction of Mr Evans in 2012 and the absolute refusal of him having any leave to appeal at that time, and his acquittal now, is that he has called some men to throw discredit on [the woman’s] sexual reputation.

“That, I think, is pouring prejudice in, which is exactly what used to happen before the law in 1999 stopped the admission of previous sexual history in order to show consent.”

It’s enraging.

At the retrial the jury was told about Evans’s fun night out with the lads, including another footballer, Clayton McDonald.

The men first saw the woman in the early hours of the morning, falling over drunk outside a kebab shop, the court head.

Mr McDonald took her back to the Premier Inn nearby, where Evans had booked a room, text messaging him from the taxi to tell him he had “got a bird”.

They spotted her falling over drunk so they grabbed her and took her to a hotel room. They found a vagina lying around in the street, so naturally they took it to a hotel room so they could put their dicks in it.

Evans insisted he then had consensual sex with the woman before getting up and leaving via a fire exit door when he suddenly realised he was cheating on his girlfriend.

In 2012, a court ruled the woman had not been able to give consent, but on Friday a jury decided unanimously that Evans was not guilty.

Because the fact that she’d had sex before made her consent irrelevant?

And after the verdict, Twitter bullies made the victim’s identity public.

The woman who accused Ched Evans of raping her has been forced to change her name at least five times since 2011, after receiving hundreds of death threats.

Legally, she has the right to lifelong anonymity as a complainant in a sex attack, but has been repeatedly hunted down and exposed by Twitter trolls.

After Evan’s first trial, her name was tweeted by his supporters and then retweeted more than 6,000 times.

Since then, her new identities have been uncovered twice more, forcing her to adopt a new name and move to a new location each time.

Her father has said his daughter has been “living her life on the run” since the incident in 2011.

Oh well, she’s only a woman.

Update: My mistake – high court judges are “Lord Justice” if men so “Lady Justice” if women. Disregard.

It became so commonplace that she stopped noticing it

Oct 17th, 2016 9:54 am | By

More bro culture and its hostility to women, from Gemma Clarke.

Football has a problem with women. It was there every day, in every training ground, every stadium and every press box I entered. The five years I spent working as a football journalist were so steadily and fiercely degrading, they very nearly destroyed me.

A good day meant being belittled, having my knowledge questioned, or my attire, or being complimented on the quality of the pastries at half-time because I stood too close to the catering table. A bad day meant being harassed, phoning a player for an interview to be told he was naked and intending to discuss a very different kind of performance.

I could try and recount all the times I was pressed up against or lunged at or spoken to or about with unbridled vulgarity but, after a while, it became so commonplace that I stopped noticing it. And therein lies the problem.

It’s appalling and it’s utterly commonplace. This isn’t right. It should not be routine and normal for women to be treated as contemptible underlings rudely keeping their own genitals out of the hands of the real human beings, men.

This is a world where normal rules appear not to apply, as the Ched Evans case demonstrates. In the regimented world of football, freedom is what happens in dark nightclubs and dim hotel rooms: freedom from coupledom, from fatherhood, from accountability.

Freedom for men, in short. Men only. Not women.

Locker-room banter is boardroom banter is press box banter is standard banter in every corner and corridor of every institution in the football world. Locker rooms should not be safe spaces in which sexism and misogyny are free to exist. Discrimination of any form should be challenged.

It should. That’s a big job. We may be some time.