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Violentacrez exposé should be taken on its own merits

Freddie deBoer doesn't like Gawker's publication of an exposé on infamous internet creep Violentacrez: "I'll take honest depravity over depravity masked as righteousness."

It's not sympathy for ViolentAcrez that moves me, but rather contempt for the deep hypocrisy of Gawker, along with its always-hilarious sanctimony of convenience. I would argue that, in fact, Gawker's writers and audience partake in essentially the same thing that many Redditors who frequent the uglier sub-Reddits do: being titillated, in various ways, by content that they simultaneously disclaim and enjoy.

Without casting aspersions on deBoer's motives here, I can't help but notice that this looks a lot like the oldest steering trick in the book: if you don't like something that someone has written (or the journalist who wrote it), try and associate it with the publisher.

Read the rest

What it's like to be a black man working in a tech startup where white guys are free to be racist

This first-person account of Qu33riousity's experience of racism in a Bay Area startup will no doubt ring familiar to other "others" who've been there, too. And, it will no doubt inspire some number of privileged white guys to post comments about how wrong he is. The startup is not named, but it would appear to be this one, a place that practically invented "brogramming." There's a lot of talk this week about how great a recent recruitment ad from this company is (video link).

Update: the author has removed his post from public view. A person claiming to be the author contacted Boing Boing today and asked us to take down this blog post linking to it, because he is pursuing legal action against the company. A Google cache remains.

Thomas Jefferson, enthusiastic, brutal slaver

Update: Be sure to read Annette Gordon-Reed's rebuttal to Wiencek's biography.

Marilyn sez, "My historian friend Henry Wiencek was distressed when he found, halfway into his research on Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves a new book about Thomas Jefferson, that generations of historians had been covering up Jefferson's dark side: he wasn't the lenient, soft-hearted, reluctant slave owner that he'd been made out to be. He found he could make money by raising slaves and selling them, and he allowed the littlest boys who worked under miserable conditions in his nail factory to be beaten if they were disobedient. Preview of the book in this month's Smithsonian Magazine."

We can be forgiven if we interrogate Jefferson posthumously about slavery. It is not judging him by today’s standards to do so. Many people of his own time, taking Jefferson at his word and seeing him as the embodiment of the country’s highest ideals, appealed to him. When he evaded and rationalized, his admirers were frustrated and mystified; it felt like praying to a stone. The Virginia abolitionist Moncure Conway, noting Jefferson’s enduring reputation as a would-be emancipator, remarked scornfully, “Never did a man achieve more fame for what he did not do..."

Once, a missing bundle of rod had started a fight in the nailery that got one boy’s skull bashed in and another sold south to terrify the rest of the children—“in terrorem” were Jefferson’s words—“as if he were put out of the way by death.” Perhaps this very bundle was the cause of the fight.

...The critical turning point in Jefferson’s thinking may well have come in 1792. As Jefferson was counting up the agricultural profits and losses of his plantation in a letter to President Washington that year, it occurred to him that there was a phenomenon he had perceived at Monticello but never actually measured. He proceeded to calculate it in a barely legible, scribbled note in the middle of a page, enclosed in brackets. What Jefferson set out clearly for the first time was that he was making a 4 percent profit every year on the birth of black children. The enslaved were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, “I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers.” His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.

In another communication from the early 1790s, Jefferson takes the 4 percent formula further and quite bluntly advances the notion that slavery presented an investment strategy for the future. He writes that an acquaintance who had suffered financial reverses “should have been invested in negroes.” He advises that if the friend’s family had any cash left, “every farthing of it [should be] laid out in land and negroes, which besides a present support bring a silent profit of from 5. to 10. per cent in this country by the increase in their value.”

...And this world was crueler than we have been led to believe. A letter has recently come to light describing how Monticello’s young black boys, “the small ones,” age 10, 11 or 12, were whipped to get them to work in Jefferson’s nail factory, whose profits paid the mansion’s grocery bills. This passage about children being lashed had been suppressed—deliberately deleted from the published record in the 1953 edition of Jefferson’s Farm Book, containing 500 pages of plantation papers. That edition of the Farm Book still serves as a standard reference for research into the way Monticello worked.

...It was during the 1950s, when historian Edwin Betts was editing one of Colonel Randolph’s plantation reports for Jefferson’s Farm Book, that he confronted a taboo subject and made his fateful deletion. Randolph reported to Jefferson that the nailery was functioning very well because “the small ones” were being whipped. The youngsters did not take willingly to being forced to show up in the icy midwinter hour before dawn at the master’s nail forge. And so the overseer, Gabriel Lilly, was whipping them “for truancy.”

The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson [Smithsonian]

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves [Amazon]

(Thanks, Marilyn!)

Shit White People Do, part umptybillion: "Les Indes galantes—Les Sauvages" (video)

[Video Link]

BB Community moderator Antinous (the person who nukes your comments at Boing Boing when you act like a dick) plucked this gem from the jaws of YouTube and says,

I could watch this a hundred times and find something new to be horrified at every time. I love Rameau's music, but who thought that it was a good idea to have the singers doing the chicken dance in front of a giant turkey cloaca while clenching corncob pipes in their teeth?

You need to see it on a proper monitor to appreciate the full cavalcade of racialist nuances.

The opera-ballet shown, "The Noble Savages" is by French Baroque era composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. More about its history here, and you can buy the music on Amazon if you're so inclined. I can maybe give the dude a break, seeing as how it was all, like, 1725 when he wrote it and stuff, man. But there can be no forgiveness for any of the contemporary humans involved in this production.

Delta refuses boarding to Poop Strong man for flying while brown and wearing the security theater shirt I designed


Back in 2007, I designed a shirt for Woot! that featured a screaming eagle clutching an unlaced shoe and a crushed water bottle, surrounded by the motto MOISTURE BOMBS ZOMG TERRORISTS ZOMG GONNA KILL US ALL ZOMG ZOMG ALERT LEVEL BLOODRED RUN RUN TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES. Among the lucky owners of this garment is Arijit "Poop Strong" Guha, who proudly wore it this week as he headed for a Delta flight from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to his home in Phoenix.

But it was not to be. First, the TSA Delta agents questioned him closely about the shirt, and made him agree to change it, submit to a secondary screening and board last. He complied with these rules, but then he was pulled aside by multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority cops, more TSA, and a Delta official and searched again. No one found anything untoward, but --

The Delta official told Arijit he wouldn't be allowed to board, and neither would his wife. Period.

When Arijit complained about this, the Niagara Transport cops got "aggressive," questioning him further and noting in their discussions that "he looks foreign." Now Arijit understood that the problem was Flying While Brown. The Niagara Transport cops had lots of dumb questions, like why Arijit's wife hadn't taken his last name, why he had opted out of the pornoscanner, and then they sicced the drug-seeking dogs on him.

Delta rebooked them for a flight the next day, but didn't offer Arijit and his wife a hotel room overnight -- and when they turned up at the airport, they discovered that their "confirmed" seats weren't confirmed, and unless eight passengers on the oversold flight agreed to fly later, they wouldn't be getting on that plane, either.

It turns out that Delta has a pattern of removing brown people from its airplanes when its pilots and passengers evince thinly veiled (or obvious) racist fears, too.

Having been booted from our flight, the transit police now began to aggressively question us. At one point, I was asked where my brother lives (he was the one who gifted me the shirt). A bit surprised by the irrelevant question, I paused for a moment before answering.

“You had to think about that one. How come?,” she asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where'd he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what's that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who'd questioned me earlier interjected: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I responded with an eye-rolling sneer: “You've never heard of Michigan?”

This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and proceeded to request that he be granted permission to question me further in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer.

And then, he decided to drop any façade of fair treatment: the veil was lifted, this was about who I was and how I looked: “And he looks foreign.”

Well, Buffalo is pretty close to Canada, so maybe he thought I looked Canadian. What does a Canadian look like anyway? Whatever it is, I’m sure that’s precisely what he was thinking. Certainly he wasn’t implying that dark-skinned people are not real Americans and that white people are the only true Americans. (I wonder what those who settled this land well before the arrival of Europeans would have to say about that.)

Arijit Vs. Delta

Neo-Nazi MEP from Hungary discovers he is Jewish

A Hungarian neo-Nazi leader has had to retire from professional antisemitism because he discovered he was Jewish. Csanad Szegedi, who had decried "Jewishness" in Hungary's political class, and referred to Jews as "lice-infested, dirty murderers," was outed by a rival within the neo-Nazi movement, who revealed that Szegedi's maternal grandmother was a Jewish Auschwitz survivor, making him Jewish as well. From an AP story in the NYT:

The fallout of Szegedi's ancestry saga has extended to his business interests. Jobbik executive director Gabor Szabo is pulling out of an Internet site selling nationalist Hungarian merchandise that he owns with Szegedi. Szabo said his sister has resigned as Szegedi's personal assistant.

In the 2010 tape, former convict Zoltan Ambrus is heard telling Szegedi that he has documents proving Szegedi is Jewish. The right-wing politician seems genuinely surprised by the news — and offers EU funds and a possible EU job to Ambrus to hush it up.

Ambrus, who served time in prison on a weapons and explosives conviction, apparently rejected the bribes. He said he secretly taped the conversation as part of an internal Jobbik power struggle aimed at ousting Szegedi from a local party leadership post. The party's reaction was swift.

Hungary Far-Right Leader Discovers Jewish Roots

A moveable mosque: One young Muslim woman's daily photoblog (video)

The "30 Mosques" guys are producing some wonderful "30 Days Ramadan" videos this year that really give you a sense of what it's like to be a Muslim person in America. I enjoyed this one, featuring a young woman named Deena who loses her job, then decides chronicle her life through a photoblog. More about the project here. Subscribe to their video channel here. Deena's photoblog is here, and full of beautiful things. (thanks, Bassam Tariq!)

Crazy stuff they'll teach in Louisiana's publicly funded charter schools

Louisiana governor (and retired exorcist) Bobby Jindal has signed an aggressive charter school bill that will transfer millions in tax dollars to religious academies run by evolution-denying, homophobic, climate-change-denying Christian extremists. Mother Jones's Deanna Pan went for a dig through these schools' official texts and discovered that Louisiana's publicly funded education system will soon tell some of its luckiest students that the KKK "achieved a certain respectability" by fighting bootleggers; "the majority of slave holders treated their slaves well;" dragons might be real; "dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time," and many other fun facts.

3. "God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ."—America: Land That I Love, Teacher ed., A Beka Book, 1994...

7. The Great Depression wasn't as bad as the liberals made it sound: "Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath…Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America."—United States History: Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1996...

10. Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson were a couple of hacks: "[Mark] Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless…Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel."—Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001

"Several of [Emily Dickinson's] poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general. Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a certainty. Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life."—Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001...

12. Gay people "have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists."—Teacher's Resource Guide to Current Events for Christian Schools, 1998-1999, Bob Jones University Press, 1998

One text also decries mathematical set theory as ungodly.

14 Wacky "Facts" Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools

Antisemitic Elmo

Elmo was removed from Central Park zoo in an ambulance after embarking on a anti-semitic tirade: "the scariest Elmo I've ever seen in my life," observed a bystander. Video link via Gothamist, The Awl, etc.

Update: There is also footage of Antisemitic Elmo screaming "TOUCH MY SHIT," etc.

Dean Obeidallah: "Sacha Cohen's movie is a modern-day minstrel show"

Comedian and former attorney Dean Obeidallah, co-director of the previously-Boinged documentary project, "The Muslims Are Coming!," is not a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie, "The Dictator." Regarding Cohen as "Gen. Shabazz Aladeen," the leader of a fictitious Arab country, Obeidallah writes: "Cohen, who is not of Arab heritage, plays this Arab character while sporting a long fake beard and speaking in a strong Arabic accent, which would be fine, except the character is showcasing the worst stereotypes of Arabs." (CNN.com) Xeni

Hasan Minhaj nails the Ashton Kutcher/PopChips dumb racist ad debacle (funny video)

[Video Link] "You have a shitty accent. You're not even being racist correctly. If you're gonna be racist, come correct with your racism."—Hasan Minhaj. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook.

Anil Dash, whose familiar mug appears briefly in Hasan's video here, has a few things to say about the matter.

(via Aman Ali)

"Klan, Klam, and Oyster" bar in Georgia displays racist sign calling President Obama the n-word

This just in: racists remain racist. Local news, HuffPo, and MSNBC's The Ed Show have reported on the shocking roadside sign below, but the bar's website (above) includes a collection of past signs, a horribly dated mouse trail effect, and the inability to correctly spell the word "original." All very troubling. (screenshot below courtesy Fox News Atlanta)

Update on killing of elderly black Marine veteran by police: no charges will be filed

No criminal charges will be filed in the fatal police shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old Marine vet. He was shot to death in his White Plains, NY apartment after his medical alert device accidentally went off and signalled police to his apartment. According to reports, audio recordings captured by that device showed that a responding officer used racial slurs in addressing the man.

Coverage around the web: CNN, Associated Press, CBS NYC, NY Daily News, The Journal News, NY Mag.

Anthony Carelli, the White Plains police officer who killed Chamberlain, has been accused in a separate racially-charged incident of police brutality.

African Men, Hollywood Stereotypes (video)

[Video Link] A new video for Mama Hope, by Joe Sabia and crew.

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Black London firefighter beaten, tazed and charged for offering assistance to cops had his complaint buried

London's Metropolitan police are at the centre of another set of awful racism allegations, the tenth in three weeks. Edric Kennedy-Macfoy is a black London fireman who trained as a police constable. While coming home late one night, dressed in a suit, he stopped to offer assistance to a policeman after seeing a young black man throw a rock at the officer's van. Before he could speak, he says the officer in the van shouted "Fuck off you prick" at him. He moved on to a line of police officers who were facing a group of unruly young people to offer his assistance to them and to complain about the abuse from the van-driver. Before he could speak to them, he says the officers shouted abuse at him, then pulled him bodily out of his car through the window. He says he showed the officers his empty hands and calmly repeated that he was a fireman offering assistance. He says the police demanded that nearby people stop recording the skirmish with their phones ("Turn those fucking cameras off"). Then he was tazed, without warning (a fact the officer who shot him does not contest).

Then it got worse. The police then arrested Kennedy-Macfoy and asked the prosecution service to prosecute him, which would have cost him his job if they'd been successful. When he complained, the police buried his paperwork and did not refer it to the independent complaints commission (they say it was an oversight). The firefighter says he only complained because the police sought to prosecute him, saying that he would have settled for an apology otherwise because "People make mistakes; you've got good cops and bad cops." When his case went to trial, several police gave testimony against him.

He says that he has a history of being pulled over by the police while driving his Audi ("Oh, you know, loads of these cars get stolen, so we just need to check you are who you say you are, blah blah blah") but that when his white co-worker borrows his car, he doesn't get pulled over.

Kennedy-Macfoy's solicitor, Shamik Dutta, of Bhatt Murphy solicitors, voiced concerns at his client's allegations, saying: "The question many people are bound to ask is why an off-duty firefighter, wearing a pinstriped suit and offering assistance to the police, should have been dragged from his car, shot with a Taser, locked up for many hours and then prosecuted for an offence he did not commit by the very officers he was trying to help.

"Our client now expects a comprehensive investigation which examines what role his race has had in the horrific events he has been forced to suffer."

Black fireman says he was abused and Tasered by Met