Aug. 14th, 2010

  • 4:34 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Great post on Feministe:

No one is innocent.

**Trigger warning for descriptions of violence and sexual abuse**

[...] This framing of individuals as either victim or perpetrator troubles me deeply. Truthfully, while there are exceptions to every rule, I generally believe that in the case of major crimes, the following rule applies: not all victims are perpetrators, but all perpetrators are victims.

I know, I know. No one wants to think of the person who did something awful to them as being a victim. And honestly, I’m not asking you to. There’s a reason the criminal justice system isn’t supposed to be about what the victim wants* – you can’t be objective. Heck, you shouldn’t be objective. But law and society should be. Which means that before we punish someone, we need to take into account that victimization is a cycle—it’s those who have been hurt that go on to hurt someone else.


Throughout all this time, no one stepped in to help this child. No one stopped him from quitting school. No one kept him away from the man who beat him mercilessly and tried to kill his mother. No one protected him from sexual abuse. No one loved him and taught him how to find solace in anything other than drugs and alcohol. Removed from the fact that he later killed, it would be difficult to imagine that anyone would not agree that this man had been a victim.

Yet, once a victim crosses that line to perpetrator – once this man killed his step-father – no one wants to remember the victim he once was. And that, I believe, is one of the fundamental flaws in our criminal justice system. No one wants to acknowledge that a perpetrator has been a victim, because if that’s true, then that means we are also punishing victims.

Robert Lawrence Smith writes in the Quaker Book of Wisdom about how people never look at the homeless. Folks avert their eyes and look away–ashamed, guilty perhaps. According to Smith, we don’t want to look at them because we don’t want to recognize our humanity in them. It’s difficult to think that we would let someone live in such conditions. So instead of recognizing them as human, we simply ignore them. This is similar to the response of the general public when we convict someone and label them a perpetrator: rather than acknowledge their humanity, we simply shuffle them away where no one can see.

Jan. 18th, 2010

  • 9:14 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Charity is not the same as Compassion by [personal profile] deepad. She, as always, talks about a lot of things that have been bothering me lately.

One of the most vicious and manipulative tools we humans have evolved is to use our individual impulses towards kindness and pity to build systems that reinforce oppressive and discriminatory practices.

"Clothe the pauper." "Heal the heathen." "Rescue the orphan." "Free the woman."

The discourse around disaster relief in Haiti has already begun to make me sick to my stomach. Because "natural disasters" are somehow painted apolitical, as though the sphere of human responsibility has been completely suspended.

This is crap, of course, because human beings and the things they do are as much a part of nature as the wind and water and earth and fire around us, and it is political when century-old housing habits evolved for a specific geological fault location get eradicated, or poverty forces urban encroachment into areas too close to the sea, or evacuation systems are ignored because the people they will save are considered expendible.

So donating money? Comes from a generous impulse, but is pretty easy to do. As Michael Maren says, "Although it's really easy to donate your dollars, it is unimaginably difficult to actually help people. The best fund raisers in the business are not the best relief workers in the business."

Rural Cleansing

  • Nov. 24th, 2009 at 5:23 PM
la_vie_noire: (Utena)
About last post, [ profile] voz_latina shared some links about he rural cleansing going on Maine, her farm being affected by it.

One of the most telling was this one about Monsanto. As you see, environmental concerns have nothing to do with it, what is happening is that sometimes Big Corporations want to be free of competition. Like our old friend, Monsanto, corp that does pretty much the same thing in every place of the world (very well known around these places thanks to soy).

Nov. 23rd, 2009

  • 9:05 PM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
I'm still on my very credible hiatus, but wonderful [personal profile] the_future_modernes wrote a magnificent, well-researched and extensive post about Conservationist Refugees: What happens when Western Environmentalists join forces with corporations? They end up creating Conservation Refugees.

Internets? I am so fucking angry right now. Why? I saw this two days ago: Thanks to GM, People Are Being Displaced So Their Forests Can Become Offsets for SUVs. and I’m thinking what the everloving fuck????? Then I am meandering about on Daily Kos and I see a book review for Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (AMazon has it cheaper and then there are used books and the library, of course.

Since 1900, more than 108,000 officially protected conservation areas have been established worldwide, largely at the urging of five international conservation organizations. About half of these areas were occupied or regularly used by indigenous peoples. Millions who had been living sustainably on their land for generations were displaced in the interests of conservation. In Conservation Refugees, Mark Dowie tells this story.

This is a “good guy vs. good guy” story, Dowie writes; the indigenous peoples’ movement and conservation organizations have a vital common goal—to protect biological diversity—and could work effectively and powerfully together to protect the planet and preserve species and ecosystem diversity. Yet for more than a hundred years, these two forces have been at odds. The result: thousands of unmanageable protected areas and native peoples reduced to poaching and trespassing on their ancestral lands or “assimilated” but permanently indentured on the lowest rungs of the economy.

Dowie begins with the story of Yosemite National Park, which by the turn of the twentieth century established a template for bitter encounters between native peoples and conservation. He then describes the experiences of other groups, ranging from the Ogiek and Maasai of eastern Africa and the Pygmies of Central Africa to the Karen of Thailand and the Adevasis of India. He also discusses such issues as differing definitions of “nature” and “wilderness,” the influence of the “BINGOs” (Big International NGOs, including the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy), the need for Western scientists to respect and honor traditional lifeways, and the need for native peoples to blend their traditional knowledge with the knowledge of modern ecology. When conservationists and native peoples acknowledge the interdependence of biodiversity conservation and cultural survival, Dowie writes, they can together create a new and much more effective paradigm for conservation.

Indeed. It appears that the book recced in my earlier post did not but scratch the surface of what appears to be widespread fuckery on behalf of white western environmental organizations, who seem to have this quaint notion that the best way to fix their society’s poisoning of the earth and sea, by practicing environmental neo-colonialism.

It has lot of awesome links, but I can put them in the quote up there because my computer doesn't have the < > keys and copy-pasting is a pain in the ass. Yeah, I don't know how to configure a keyboard, sue me!

Jul. 24th, 2009

  • 4:21 PM
la_vie_noire: (Meets Minimal Standards of Decent Human)
Wonderful links via [personal profile] the_future_modernes:

Self-Delusion and the Lie of Lifestyle Activism (Core Dilemmas of Community Organizing)

But, of course, the ecological impact of recycling one battery (or ten, or a hundred) is so miniscule as to make no discernable difference at all. It literally DOES NOT MATTER whether I recycle a battery or not.

This is true for so many things that we are urged to do as our civic contribution to the world. It is, in fact, NOT easy to make a difference.

The lie of lifestyle activism is important in part because it bleeds off much of the energy that does exist in the world for social action. It also reveals some of the ways we deceive ourselves about effective civic engagement.


We want to be able to stay within our comfort zones and still feel like we are "making a difference."

Part II: The Distortions of Lifestyle Politics (Core Dilemmas of Community Organizing)

Unintended Consequences and Middle-Class Organizing

Of course members of the middle class are perfectly capable of participating in collective struggles over power. Try to locate a group home in a middle-class suburb, or de-track a suburban high school, or cut down a beloved suburban oak tree, and you will quickly see the wrath of the relatively privileged.

Unless it sees its own privileges under attack, however, as Fred Rose notes, the middle class prefers to educate others about the truth and to model correct action.

As middle-class settlers moved into North Kenwood-Oakland, the key problem that affected them directly was what they perceived as unacceptable levels of crime and disorder. While their active efforts to alter this state of affairs did "improve" the community in some concrete ways, these changes did not address the core structural causes of the poverty that most affected their working-class neighbors. In fact the easiest solution to problems of disorder was simply "to drive out what is seen as the offending class" (268).

While the settlers came to "reclaim" the neighborhood for everyone," then, when they got to North Kenwood-Oakland, they ended up expending much of their energy to make it more comfortable for themselves. They sought to make it reflective of their own understanding of the "correct" urban lifestyle.

To improve their new neighborhood, the settlers actively supported three key strategies. They sought to limit public housing, they supported strict screening for new low-income renters in "mixed" public housing, and they brought in police from the University of Chicago to supplement the local district police.

Dude. Story of my life. Or better, story of the middle classes in Latin America.


la_vie_noire: (Default)
[personal profile] la_vie_noire

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