Saturday, December 05, 2015

On The Coverage of the Killings of San Bernardino. A Housewife Turned A Murderer.

Mass murders are now too frequent for me give them the attention their victims deserve.  The most recent one, in San Bernardino, plucked fourteen lives prematurely and left those who loved the newly dead with torn-edged gaping holes for the rest of their lives.  Twenty-one additional people were hurt, some very seriously.

Most media now report that the butchers of San Bernardino, a young married couple, were motivated by extreme religio-political beliefs, the kind which motivates, say, ISIS.

The woman in the killing couple,  Tashfeen Malik,  appears to have pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS right before the slaughter.  The man in the killing couple, Syed Rizwan Farook, is described as a very pious or devout* man who didn't let other men (or even his brothers) see his wife's face and who may have been in contact with some lower-level people on FBI's terrorism watch list.

I wish all those who lost someone they love peace.

The rest of this post covers the way the US media has contrasted Malik's stay-at-home status with her status as a murderer and possibly a self-motivated terrorist.  The media has tried to grapple with the seeming paradox:   That a veiled and very "traditional" Muslim wife might also have been a more extreme Islamic terrorist than her husband.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Colorado Springs Murders And Terrorism

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood murders.  What is there to say about them that hasn't been said before?  That three parents, all with young children, were brutally killed?  That the murderer, with a fragile mind laced with violence, was able to get hold of an AK-47 style weapon and use it to snuff out two fathers and one mother, all presumably so that he could save fetuses from being dismembered and "baby parts" from being sold by Planned Parenthood (as the much-edited videos by David Daleiden argue)?  Who has responsibility* for these horrible deeds?  Does it matter if the final forms of the videos lied, if the murderer was influenced by them?  Does it matter that the murderer had access to weapons?

Does it matter if we call this terrorism or not?

Ever since the news about the Colorado Springs murders erupted  I have read about the term "terrorism" in this context.

What is the relationship between the Colorado Springs massacre and, say, the Paris massacre, other than the number of victims?  Why does one slaughter qualify as terrorism and the other one perhaps not?  Does the media treat white Christian or secular men who commit mass killings as the aberrant exceptions, the mentally ill, not even lone wolf terrorists, when similar crimes, if committed by Muslims,  are immediately labeled as terrorism whether of the lone-wolf type or not?  And when similar crimes are committed by black non-Muslim men in the US**, they are usually interpreted as just ordinary street-thuggery, nothing to do with mental fragility.

Is it the case that we don't use the word "terrorism" when the intended victims are women who seek abortions?  Or when the targets are Planned Parenthood sites, given the "controversial" nature of abortion in this country?  Does this mean that sometimes we are on the side of the "terrorists," sometimes not?  The old saw about one man's terrorist being another man's freedom fighter?  So many men there...

These and many similar questions were both asked and answered in my Twitter feed over the last few days and in articles from all sides of the US political field.  The answers could be predicted by the original political affiliations of the individuals doing the writing or speaking.

Ted Cruz on The Condom Wars

Ted Cruz is a brave, brave man.  He has said what no-one else in the Republican Party dares to say:  That there is no Republican war on women!  None.  That it's the Republicans who vote in more and more restrictions on women's reproductive choices is a coincidence, and so is the fact that it's the Republicans who fight tooth and nail against any attempt to disallow gender discrimination in the workplace.  It's also a coincidence that it's the Republican Party who has far fewer women in the US Congress than the Democratic Party.

So many coincidences, and I haven't even had breakfast yet!

The specific message Cruz wants us to take home is that the Republicans don't want to ban people's access to contraceptives.  This is how he put it:

Ted Cruz on Monday offered a spirited defense of Republicans on women’s health issues, accusing Democrats of creating a phony “war on women” based on claims that his party wants to restrict access to birth control.
“The last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” the GOP presidential candidate said during a town hall here, responding to a question about the availability of contraception to women who want it.
“Look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom. You’d put 50 cents in and voila!” added Texas’ junior senator, who attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School. “So yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them, but it is an utterly made-up, nonsense issue.”
See?  Any man can buy condoms in public bathrooms!  Problem solved.

The point, naturally, is that the traditional condoms are not a form of female-controlled contraception*.  A woman cannot protect herself if the man she has sex with refuses to wear a condom.  It's up to him, ultimately, though of course most couples cooperate on contraceptive choices.  Still, Cruz is telling the guys that the Republican Party will let them have as many condoms as they wish.

He's telling something quite different to the gals.  And one of those things is that he hasn't thought about any of this on the deeper levels.  I always find that shocking, the fact that most Republican male politicians don't spend any time thinking about women and their petty issues before opening their mouths.

*It is those forms of contraception that the weirdest pro-lifers (or forced-birthers) wish to ban:  The contraceptive pill and the intrauterine device or the coil.