Thursday, January 31, 2008

BDSM, Florida Style

It seems to me that the objection to BDSM among the Social Conservatives is not so much the idea of a happy spanking or two between consenting adults.

Nope. It's the idea that the one submitting has a "safeword" and the right to negotiate "hard limits."

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During a typical day each migrant picks, carries and unloads two tons of tomatoes." For that two tons the worker can expect about $50, and annual wages of $10,000-$14,000. Wages have been stagnant for more than two decades.

"We must ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves," President Bush declared
He then segued into a call to ban human cloning.
he certainly didn't talk about dignity
in Immokalee, Florida where – as Senator Bernie Sanders told me
"the norm is a disaster, and the extreme is slavery."
Here, then, is what Senator Sanders shared with me:

"It was really stunning – the likes of which I have never seen in my life. I've long been interested in workers issues. But when we talk about the race to the bottom here in the United States I would say that Immokalee, Florida is the bottom. I think those are workers who are more ruthlessly exploited and treated with more contempt than any group of workers that I've ever seen and I suspect exist in the US.

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Now, this doesn't seem like a good-faith negotiation to me, not in any sense of the word.

Whatever you may think of the practice of BDSM - and many to the left and right of me do think of it as a dubious practice a best and the rankest sort of perversion at the worst - one cannot seriously examine the subculture without realizing that it is founded on an ironclad ethos of mutual respect that is clearly not shared by the the Florida Tomato Grower's Exchange.

In fact, the ethos has been so well thought out, that many of us could legitimately be accused of overthinking the matter.

Yes, I did say "us." I'm an ethics blogger, and this is in part where my ethics come from. Thank you, STella, Steven S. Douglass, Jay Wiseman and so many others that I should be able to name off the top of my head. "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense"

Any one of these folks, these fellow "perverts" and "perps" as the UK Spanner decision would name us, would be qualified to look at this situation and name it for what it is - a situation of manufactured consent, economic slavery engineered in part by compliant and conveniently enforced laws, a corruptible and compliant immigration enforcement authority and of course, the convenient fact that undocumented status means there is both practically and in large factually, no appeal to authority.

In Roman times, even the lowest slave had certain expectations - even those on vast "latifundia," or slave farms, where their numbers were only approximated. Among these expectations were food, shelter and the sort of rude medical care anyone else, short of the Purple, might have available.

In Florida - and no doubt, in Texas - agriculture depends on standards and practices that would embarrass a Roman - and possibly even an Old South plantation owner. And certainly they would embarrass and appall anyone in the BDSM "scene."

But then, we tend to value those who play with us, if only because of the simple ethos of "waste not, want not." But it is really far more than that; it is largely accurate to state that in the graceful dance of power, those of us who practice it mindfully respect one another, and see it as a means of allocating responsibility according to nature and inclination.

My ethics, coming from where they do, seem to be superior to those that come from the whited chapels of the Baptists who so dominate the culture of Florida and the rest of the agricultural South.

So speak not to me of "perversions," when you do not respect the observation from the Bible that "the worker is worthy of his hire." Do not moralize at me, or speak a shaming word about what you assume my beliefs and values must be if you grudge a penny a pound - and do not give charity and hospitality to "strangers within your land."

I know - better than most Baptists, it is sadly clear - what the standards of Jesus were, and the basis and origin of those standards.

And when such a Samaritan as I can be assured of that, it's a sad day indeed.

It was Jesus's point that "good Jews" should be BETTER than "the Samaritans", who were widely "known" to practice all sorts of heresy and "perversion."

Well, when people are in practice enslaved in this land of ours, and those profiting by it - and indeed, those holding the whips, keys and truncheons - are welcomed in church and invited to read the Lesson - I think the lesson ought to be obvious.

For a Christian, "what would Jesus Do" is a question that should always have an answer. The words in red are not difficult to understand, encompassing very simple ideas about how we should treat one another. So if you are a member of a church and you look around, and you see that it is not clear on the idea that fucking with other people's lives and livelihood for profit is a far more significant question than who they may choose to fuck, in what position, with or without procreative potential, you need to leave that church.

That, or accept the karma that accrues to you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

USO refuses to take stand against hate speech.

I am as baffled by the USO's militant and obstreperous response to calls to boycott Michael Savage. Granted, PSA's generate no revenue, but I, for one, would be extremely dubious about having the USO associated with Savage, were it me.

The use of PSA's is a choice - and very often, the choice is made in terms of image. I know, as I've been employed in traditional media. There are MANY possible PSA's, only a few slots and one gives away the space to those who's agenda fits one's own.

Which of course opens the question of who is now in charge of the USO, and what their agendas may be. Considering the amount the USO relies upon the donation of time and effort by "liberal" hollywood types - like, for instance, Michael Moore and Margaret Cho - this is a suprising position for them to take.

But then, perhaps the USO has been taken over by neocons and their ilk, in view of "supporting the morale" of the troops in their struggle against "islamofacism."

Perhaps it ,might be profitable to look into just WHO is in charge at the USO - and how their vision might vary from the more traditionally understood Non-Partisan and apolitical nature of the organization.

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a group who has segments run on the show is raising eyebrows by refusing to distance itself from Savage. The USO, a non-profit that does work for U.S. armed forces, wrote Brave New Films complaining about being targeted and even hinting at a lawsuit
John Hanson, a spokesman for the USO, said the organization could ask for its PSAs to be taken off of Savage's program, and wouldn't. "Because then who is next?" he asked. "We provide no revenue for Michael Savage. We may improve his image. But we provide no revenue for him."
"Considering the USO's role in the world," said Leighton Woodhouse, a spokesperson for Brave New Films, "we would have expected them to be the first to distance themselves from someone who is deliberately fanning the flames of hatred between Muslims and non-Muslims; we were sorely disappointed."
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My official response to the State of the Union

Think Progress has gotten all very exited about all the various inaccuracies in the State of the Union address, which apparently occurred last night, reportedly to RAVE reviews by those who bothered to watch.
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In Reno, apparently only one television station carried the SOTU. It’s hardly surprising, then, that those who actually sought it out would have largely positive responses.

Bush’s administration coined a term for such folk. “Dead Enders.”

As for the speech itself - no doubt as fine a piece of professionally-crafted twaddle as one might expect, mangled beyond recognition as we have also come to expect - who the hell cares?

The entire thing can be summed up as “yadda yadda blah,” and while of course I appreciate y’all taking the time to counterpoint each lie - I mean, contrafactual assertion - I didn’t need to know anything more than the fact that his lips were moving.

Hence, I did not watch, have not read, won’t be doing either. There’s simply no point in helping validate this pile of steaming horse-apples.

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The Power Of Unreasonable People

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With the American presidential campaign in full swing, the obvious way to change the world might seem to be through politics.

But growing numbers of young people are leaping into the fray and doing the job themselves.

Andrew Klaber, a 26-year-old playing hooky from Harvard Business School to come here (don’t tell his professors!), is an example of the social entrepreneur. He spent the summer after his sophomore year in college in Thailand and was aghast to see teenage girls being forced into prostitution after their parents had died of AIDS.

So he started Orphans Against AIDS (, which pays school-related expenses for hundreds of children who have been orphaned or otherwise affected by AIDS in poor countries. He and his friends volunteer their time and pay administrative costs out of their own pockets so that every penny goes to the children.

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Today the most remarkable young people are the social entrepreneurs, those who see a problem in society and roll up their sleeves to address it in new ways. Bill Drayton, the chief executive of an organization called Ashoka that supports social entrepreneurs, likes to say that such people neither hand out fish nor teach people to fish; their aim is to revolutionize the fishing industry. If that sounds insanely ambitious, it is. John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan title their new book on social entrepreneurs “The Power of Unreasonable People.”


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