Review: Totally biased folk rock music edition

O brave new world, that has such legislation in it! There are so many things I want to write about right now — naturally, because I have homework (!!) and nothing gets my creative juices flowing like avoiding stuff with a deadline.

This morning Twitter greeted me with Coheed and Cambria singing Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinions on the ACA and same-sex marriage. Which I can’t embed because WordPress doesn’t like Funny or Die’s video player, so click on the image below or the link in the last sentence to go to the video.

Screencap via AltPress.

Screencap via AltPress.

Bearded dudes with guitars and tight harmonies are kind of my jam, so I figured I’d take this opportunity to plug a couple of friends who are also creating music that fits that description precisely.

Nicholas Mudd
Check it out if you like: 
Old Crow Medicine Show, Christian Kane’s down-tempo stuff, early Bob Dylan
Personal favorite: “Tell Me Girl” (So fare thee well, I guess I’ll see you in hell / And I hope you’re doing alright)

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Everybody look what’s going down

This is a brief post, because I don’t know what to say and I feel I have to say something.

Frankly, I’d been avoiding the news. I knew another unarmed young black man had been killed by cops. I knew there were protests and that the police were behaving badly. That was pretty much it. It’s practically boilerplate by now: the last few years have taught me the script, just like the one for school shootings.

I started this morning with my coffee, started catching up on articles and link roundups and tweets around the web, and ended up in tears, scared in ways I didn’t know I still could be over events like this.

I don’t know what to do. I know this is not okay. I know that there are times when my job as a white person is to sit down and listen, but eventually there comes a time when my job is to stand up and scream, and I think the moment when part of my country starts to descend into martial law and riot control that would make Bull Connor proud is a moment to stand.

But I’m over here, and they’re over there. This isn’t a situation where I can at give money to a relief organization and feel that that’s tangible helps — well, I guess I can, but I don’t know where to send my money. If anyone knows of organizations that are raising money for legal defense or anything like that, please let me know. (ETA: The ACLU has been suggested while I was writing this. Thanks, Kat! I’ll update this post with links when I have a chance.) If there are other ways I can help, or anyone can help, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’m adding my voice, since it’s all I have. Governor Jay Nixon needs to get this under control.  Police Chief Thomas Jackson needs to be held accountable for the horrifying tactics and behavior of his police force. And as a nation we have got to work to dismantle the institutional racism that allows cops to harass and murder young men of color with impunity. Require police to wear body cameras. Stop incentivizing murder by giving cops who kill paid leave (reportedly, the officer who killed Michael Brown is on paid administrative leave).

We can’t just let this keep happening. We can’t. We can’t.

ETA: Thirteen hours later, the situation in Ferguson looks very different, which is a relief. There are still things we can do to help:

  • Raise your voice on a local level. There are a couple of petitions going around the internet about changing policy to require police officers to wear front-facing cameras, which has been shown to reduce complaints against police and use of force by police. The petitions are a good start, but not an endpoint. Get in touch with your state government, your county government where applicable, and your city government, and see what work you can do to get camera policies enacted in your city.
  • If you want to make a financial contribution, there are a number of places you can give money (and these organizations may have other ways you can get involved, so be sure to click around):
  • As mentioned here, VOTE. Vote for federal elections, yes, but pay attention to local elections and vote in them too. Change starts at home, with you, in the ballot box.

This whole situation was — is — terrifying and sad. Every aspect of it: Michael Brown’s death, the police’s initial reaction, the police’s continued overreaction, and the fact that it could happen again. Maybe not in Ferguson — but hell, maybe in Seattle, we’ve got a terrible track record.

It could happen again, but let’s not let it. Not again.


Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars.Alfonso Cuaron is the first Latino director to win Best Director — in fact, as far as I can tell, he’s [Correction:] the first non-white person one of two non-white artists to win Best Director (the other being Ang Lee, who has won twice; thanks to Piper for noting my commission), in 86 years of the Academy Awards. Lupita Nyong’o is the first black African to win an Oscar. Steve McQueen is one of three black men ever nominated for Best Director, and black screenwriter John Ridley of 12 Years A Slave took home Best Adapted Screenplay. Robert Lopez is the first Filipino American to win an Oscar. Sunday’s show contained a significant portion of the awards taken home by non-white artists in the Academy Awards’ 86 year history.

Not that there’s not a long way to go.

Pope Francis says that the Catholic Church could support some kinds of same-sex civil unions, and even though Vatican spokespeople promptly tried to walk his remarks back, the fact remains that the head of the Church didn’t straight-up condemn some kind of official recognition of same-sex relationships.

Not that there’s not a long way to go.

Lammily, a Barbie-style doll modeled on the average body type of American teenage girls with the specific goal of promoting realistic beauty standards in young girls, has gone viral. Nickolay Lamm, the designer and artist, has already raised twice his fundraising goal for putting Lammily into production.

There’s a long way to go, but that’s a damn good first step.

Correction: Indiana continues to enforce sane-sex marriage ban, otherwise avoids new douchebaggery

A sharp-eyed friend (thanks Andrea!) pointed me towards this article, which clarifies what the updated laws actually are and what their effects are. A quote:

The Marriage Application
The consternation for this law is coming about because of a change in how Indiana processes marriage applications. As part of an overall effort to modernize and digitize all state public records, Indiana has been switching – county by county – to a digital marriage license application form.

On the digital form, there are specific gender designators for male and female that cannot be changed. Previously, on the paper form, one could mark out male or female and write in the appropriate gender to make the form correct. On a digital version, this isn’t possible.

So, some enterprising reporter put two-and-two together and wrote up a story about how there was a new law (no, it’s an updated law that only changed the penalties) that would criminalize the act of any same-sex couple who filled out the electronic form because they would, by default, have to lie about the gender of one of the applicants.

The Confusion
Here’s where it gets confusing for most folks, including the reporter who wrote the original piece: the law specifically criminalizes “knowingly providing false information” – in other words, when there is an intent to defraud the state, you have committed a crime. As several Indiana lawyers, including my friend and fellow blogger, Doug Masson, have pointed out, the simple act of writing (male – not female) or (female – not male) after your name should suffice to make your intent clear.

Me again. I see that this has made it to Tumblr, so if someone wanted to post a link to this article, that’d be much appreciated. Nothing I hate more than misinformation.


Extreme, ridiculous, funny yet horrible: Indiana makes applying for a same-sex marriage license felonious

Please click here for a correction to this post. Thanks to Andrea for the article!

Extreme, ridiculous, funny yet horrible: Indiana makes applying for a same-sex marriage license felonious

Want to hear something that is so ridiculously extreme I have to laugh at it?

A same-sex couple applying for a marriage license in Indiana will be guilty of a Level 6 felony, punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.


The new law also makes it a Class B Misdemeanor for a clergyman, judge, mayor, city clerk or town clerk-treasurer to perform a same-sex marriage, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Silly me, I was under the impression that the LAST thing same-sex marriage opponents wanted was the government legislating what kind of marriages could be performed, because then the government would surely FORCE good heterosexual evangelical Christians and Catholics to perform same-sex weddings. Forcing everyone to not perform same-sex weddings, on the other hand, is apparently totally fine. Doesn’t set up a precedent for charging people with misdemeanors for performing or not performing a specific kind of marriage at all. As Sadly, No! says, It’s Always Projection.

I can’t help seeing this as the final, violent death throes of the opposition to same-sex marriage. When you have to start splitting hairs to this point (“Because Indiana marriage license forms have a space for ‘male applicant’ and ‘female applicant’, any same-sex couple filling out the form would automatically violate the law [against furnishing false information on a marriage license]”) then you’re losing. And a year and a half jail sentence for applying for a marriage license? It’s so over-the-top and draconian that it’ll never stand up to legal scrutiny or public opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, this law is terrible, and I feel awful for same-sex couples in Indiana — where same-sex marriage is already illegal under state law, I should point out. This law is kicking a group that’s already been down in Indiana for a while. But I really do think it’s one of the last flailing, foaming-at-the-mouth convulsions of this kind of legislative hatred. It is unquestionably terrible to watch and terrible to be in its range, but it won’t last forever.

A somewhat hopeful closing from that same article:

Although same-sex marriages are currently banned by state law, the Republican controlled General Assembly is considering submitting an amendment to the state constitution for a vote of the people next year. The decision will be made in the January-March 2014 legislative session. It is unclear whether such an amendment would survive a popular vote, as recent polling finds a majority of Indiana residents are now against a constitutional amendment forbidding marriage equality.


The Voting Rights Act and what we can do

The Voting Rights Act and what we can do


Above is a map from of what states are affected by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is part of what was struck down by the Supreme Court yesterday. Section 5 basically states that any of those olive green states up there must get clearance from the federal government before they change their voting practices, to ensure that those changes don’t have the purpose or effect of discriminating against a minority.

Hey, look, that’s my home state of AK up there! WHOOPS.

So now that the SCOTUS has ruled on the VRA, it goes to Congress. Congress already voted once, in 2006, to renew the VRA for another 25 years. 2006, friends — when George W Bush was in the middle of his second term. 390 members of Congress voted to renew the VRA then, with 33 voting against renewal.

Here’s where you come in. If you, like me, watched Wendy Davis’ filibuster last night and wanted to scream with the people in the gallery, this is the time to start screaming. Especially if you live in one of the affected states, contact your congresspeople. If you’re not in one of the affected states, contact your congresspeople anyway. Make it absolutely clear to Congress that this is important. Make it clear that everyone in Congress needs to pull together to keep the VRA effective.

Get up there in the gallery and start screaming your lungs out.

VoteSmart has thorough information about your elected officials, including how to contact them and their voting records. If your congressperson was in office in 2006, you can even see how they voted on the VRA renewal then by clicking on “Voting Record,” then selecting “Civil Liberties and Civil Rights” from the handy drop-down “Issues” menu.

You don’t have to call your congresspeople — write them a letter. It doesn’t have to be a long letter — just write them a letter. If you can pick up the phone, do! If you can tweet at them or Facebook them, do! Be respectful, be clear, and be LOUD.

Make some noise.

[Reposted from elsewhere.]