Archive for April, 2010

Not Content with Rape, OK Leg. Now Wants OK Doctors to Lie

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by rottenart

I don’t have a lot of time for blogging right now, but this is so insane that I just had to get it out there. Down in OK, where you’ll remember they just over-rode Gov. Henry’s veto (nice try, Brad) of the draconian abortion legislation and made it law. Well, now there’s new legislation that makes it impossible for a woman to sue a doctor who has withheld information about a fetus’ birth defects.

In case you don’t quite get it: if a doctor in OK doesn’t believe in abortion, and thinks a family might go for that option if the baby will be born with birth defects, the doctor can just not tell the family about the birth defects. Of course, then the woman can do absolutely nothing about it once the baby is born. No consequences for the doctor, nothing. So, they are requiring doctors to perform a vaginal ultra-sound (rape with medical instrument) on any women who wants an abortion, they require women to submit personal details to the government, and they can lie about a baby’s health and get away with it.

For a crowd who wants the government off their backs, they sure don’t mind sticking it everyone’s else’s uterus. Disgusting.

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New Stuff is Coming!!!

Posted in Art, Other Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by rottenart

This is a big week for me, so I apologize for not having much time to blog.There’s lots of crazy developments that I would love to tackle: the crazy Arizona immigration bill, financial reform, immigration reform, the climate bill, midterm elections. But, seeing as how nobody’s paying me to write this crap, it’s just a hobby.

The interviews I did will be posted in TWO new Art That Matters features this weekend, so you’ll definitely want to check back on those. I also finished my thesis paper, a defense of the practice of painting. I’m going to propose it for presentation at next year’s CAA, so I’ll keep you posted on how that’s going. I may even be able to post it here in series format… we’ll see.

In other art news, I’m participating with a number of Media Studies students in a performance/installation collaboration for Hallwalls’ Artists+Models:Stimulus event on Saturday. We’re doing an interpretation of Georges Bataille’s The Story of the Eye. It is going to be pretty insane and I have a feeling we might be the talk of the event. If you don’t know what The Story of the Eye is all about, then please be forewarned before you start to read it: it is a pretty graphic exploration of sexual and cultural taboos. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

Hopefully, I’ll have some more time for blogging soon, but it’s shaping up to be one crazy Summer. If you’ve been following me, then please send me a note or comment on a story so I know you’re still out there!

On Censorship, Sympathy and South Park

Posted in Art, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by rottenart

Last night, Comedy Central decided that the threats from radical Muslims were too dangerous and decided to censor South Park‘s depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. There’s many interesting aspects to this story but the one that stands out to me is the thin line between responsible and inflammatory speech. I will defend the right to make art about anything to the very end. Being an artist who deals with sensitive topics such as war and religion, I am aware of the consequences of people taking offense to what you do and say with their creative output.

On the other hand, I also understand the offense people take when people mock something they hold very dear. Though I rant and rave and poke fun of religion myself, I don’t harbor any illusion that it’s not offensive to some. In fact, I would say that my biggest problem with organized religion, be it Christian, Muslim, or whatever, is not the tenants of their belief itself but rather the fact that some adherents are not content to practice their faith without attempting to drag non-believers into the fold. Proselytizing is always ugly to me, mostly because no two people are going to view spirituality the same way, despite their claims.

When you have people who are determined to tell others how to live rather than focus on their own existence then it’s a problem.

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Compare and Contrast

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by rottenart

I wrote about the media’s steadfast insistence on keeping the Eric Massa story alive a little while back. Although I think there are some interesting parallels that bear mentioning (which I’ll do in a second), I don’t want to let the MSM off the hook just yet. There are also some important differences between these new developments on the Democratic side and past behavior from Republicans.

For starters, just look at the statements from Pelosi’s office in the AP article. They’re freely making themselves available to questions. Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Pelosi, said ‘members of Pelosi’s staff have already met with and fully cooperated with the committee’. The right, aided and abetted by cable news, would love to make this a juicy scandal so they can point to the Dems and say, “see? Their indiscretions are no worse than ours! Yargle bargle!” It’s not a ringing endorsement of their own behavior but it sounds pretty good in a sound byte.

But let’s take a look at how Republican leadership responded when a similar story broke in their own caucus.
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Explosions in the Gulf are a Symptom, Not an Anomaly

Posted in Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by rottenart

I’m a bit late getting to this story, but as of yet, the 11 missing personnel from the big explosion aboard an off-shore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico are still unaccounted for. I send my hope to those families, most of whom live constantly with the threat of fatality hanging over their lives and livelihood. Much in the same way families described their existence in the wake of the coal mine disaster a few weeks ago, the roughnecks and assorted other workers on the rig know that they risk their lives to do their jobs. One former rig worker, Rusty Galloway put it this way:

“They come from small towns where the oil field is their life. The fears that these people have, it’s life and death out there. You risk your life for a lot of money.”

It’s absolutely true. A huge portion of the energy economy, predicated as it is on dangerous and dirty extraction, depends on workers who are willing to defy death each day in order to make sure our homes are heated, our cars run, and our lights come on at night. In both instances, the accident was a rarity, at least in the United States. In other countries where Big Energy has its hands (China, for example), it’s not quite the same story. But the fact remains that the profession is a risky one no matter where the site is and the workers know that.

To me, however, the story is not so much the tragedy of losing personnel in a dangerous profession. The problem is that the risk is tied to the promise of big pay; workers would not be doing it if it weren’t worth it. That so many people are willing to forego the risk speaks to the power and influence that Big Oil and Big Coal have. We are addicted to these things, in a way that makes more deaths like these assured. Now, I’m not suggesting that alternative forms of energy are some walk in the park. Pictures of workers atop giant wind turbines makes clear just how dangerous green energy can be. The difference is that the risk involved with oil, coal, and natural gas is not borne solely by the workers who extract and refine these resources. We all shoulder the burden. The CSM article adds, almost as an afterthought, that the environmental impact of the explosion and fire on the still burning rig is not expected to be that great. I suppose that it’s relatively less of an impact than, say, Exxon-Valdez or Centralia, where an underground coal mine fire is still burning 47 years later.

Unfortunately, these things are not isolated unto themselves. It’s a cumulative effect. Every gallon of oil spilled, every cubic ton of smoke and fumes released, every inch of mountain-top removed adds up and in the long run, we all pay for it. Not just with higher heating bills or tanks of gas, but with the slowly creeping threat of an unlivable world. I can practically hear the scoffs from the opposition to clean energy. “We puny humans can’t possibly have an impact like that!” Please tell that to the whale washed up on the shore with nothing but garbage in its stomach, the divers who have watched the coral reefs decimated by increasingly acidic oceans, or the natives in Alaska still dealing the ramifications of oil and sludge in their waterways. Alone, the smoke from this one oil rig may not be dire, but looking at the list of deaths in the link above, some of which were surely accompanied by explosions and fire, and the fumes begin to add up.

The money offered to energy workers, may of whom don’t have any other economic options, doesn’t make up for the cost we all share from the use of dwindling dirty resources. These same under-educated folks who see an oil rig or gas field or coal mine as a means to escape poverty could easily be moved into tending bio-fuel farms, servicing turbines and solar panels, and building a new power grid. People go where the money is, plain and simple. This most recent disaster likely won’t dampen the screams of “drill, baby, drill” but we can hold out hope that it might give a few people pause. Death is an inevitability with fossil fuel; health risks and environmental hazard are intrinsically linked to their very existence. Accidents like this one and the loss of 25 miners in WV don’t happen often but they happen often enough that we should at least start looking elsewhere for our sources of power.

Lieberman’s Powers Only Work on Democratic Presidents

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by rottenart

Guess who finally found out that as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, he has the power to investigate White House actions? Joe “Droopy Dog” Lieberman, that’s who! Because lying to take the US to war against the wrong country, spying on Americans without warrants, and leaving a city to drown while the President eats cake aren’t really that important, you see. What really matters is information about a nutjob who snapped and shot up an army base. What’s that you say? Wouldn’t releasing this material hurt the government’s prosecution of Nadal Hassan? Well, probably. But that just means you don’t understand the finer points of senatorial oversight!

Just to be clear, during his tenure as chairman of this committee, the point of which is to investigate wrongdoing, he took a pass not only on the things listed above but also the following: secret meetings between then-VP Cheney and Big Oil, Abu Ghraib, Pentagon cover-ups of Blackwater killings, outing an undercover CIA operative (which is technically treason), the stripping of Habeas Corpus rights, destruction of White House e-mails, falsifying intelligence to bolster a case for war, attempting to strong-arm the Attorney General to sign off on breaking the law, and secretly crafting memos that allowed the use of torture. Mind you, these are just the things I could think of off the top of my head! But ol’ Joe couldn’t bothered to investigate any of that. Not even a hearing!

Psst, Harry? I’m beginning to think that maybe Joe isn’t truly with us on everything but the war. Call it a hunch.

(via Steve Benen)

Oklahoma Senate Wants to Rape Women to Stop Abortion

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2010 by rottenart

I’ve been following this story for some time and back when it was ruled unconstitutional over a technicality, I shuddered, knowing they would bring it back. Well, they did today. It’s absolutely unbelievable. According to the legislation, getting an abortion will now require an invasive vaginal ultra-sound. In layman’s terms, any women who wants an abortion will now have to have a medical devise inserted into her vagina, against her will. Awesome State Sen. and all around hero, Andrew Rice said it best:

“You’re going to force someone to undergo an invasive medical procedure,” objected state Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, who voted against the bill. “You have to invasively put an instrument inside the woman. This could be your 15-year-old daughter who was raped.”

Absolutely correct, Andrew.

But wait! The fun doesn’t stop there! Before we even get to the state-sponsored rape, the woman will have to fill out a detailed questionnaire covering every aspect of her life before she has the procedure. So we get invasion of privacy and invasion of the body in one fell swoop. Classy. Don’t forget that the ultimate plan is to ultimately shame the women by posting the details of the forms online. That last bit wasn’t included in this round, but you can be sure they’ll be resuscitating it in the future (it is still a part of the bill).

According to the above AP article, these bills, if signed by Gov. Brad Henry, would make the laws against abortion in OK the strongest in the country. Pro-lifers are sure to point to that as a net positive. “See,” they’ll say, “we want to stop abortion in our state and this bill does that!” Except it won’t. No matter how much old, fat, white men want to stop women from having control over their own decisions and bodies, it’s not going to happen. Women will still have abortions. The difference would be that this law would force them to be raped by a doctor, detail their personal life before the procedure, be subject to harassment and ridicule once the form is posted publicly, shove the abortion providers either underground or out of state for fear of reprisal, and generally make it much more deadly to have one. For a group that cries crocodile tears every time the government so much as thinks about regulating privacy, this sure seems like an overstep of authority. Notice there is no similar law dealing with pre-natal care for young, unwed mothers, no financial assistance for single moms, no focus on the root causes of poverty and education that underly abortion, etc., etc. What a bunch of hypocritical asshole men. I’ll be waiting for the inevitable court challenges.

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: if you are against abortion, don’t have one. It’s just that simple.

Update: Just a little trivia for those who want to stop abortion and are also opposed to universal health care.

Update II: Sadly, I was mistaken earlier. It turns out posting personal details of the questionnaires is still very much part of the legislation.