Sunday, January 16, 2005

You and me...

Furthering recent attempts to bring out my inner audiophile, last night I went to The Catalyst to see the local band Devil Makes Three (you can read about them here). They're a three person band, featuring a female acoustic bass player, which makes them even cooler. Great fun songs with good vocals and simple instrumentals. Although this is my first time hearing of them, they're obviously quite popular as a good portion of the crowd was singing along. It was a great time, and not just because the band was amazing. The catalyst is such a great venue because it's semi intimate with lots of space for dancing. (Particularly hippie dancing, it's Santa Cruz after all) The whole spatial layout is just really comfortable and pleasing. Anyway, I would describe their style as bluegrass and thanks to the buzzed and smiling crowd, it was the most fun I've had a show in a long time. Which I guess isn't saying much because I never go to shows. But I'm rethinking that habit.

On a related note, I've given The Shin's Oh, inverted world another listen, and I LOVE it. So if you did the same as me, and wrote it off, I beg you, give it another try. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Revisting tortured acceptance

NY Times (I promise I will cite other sources on my next post) reports that Specialst Charles Graner was found guilty on the torture charges.

My imagination runs wild with this quote:

"The jury heard from 23 witnesses, but not from Specialist Graner, despite early statements from his lawyers that he would testify because he was the best person to explain the acts seen in the photographs."

Yeah. I can just picture the arguments over whether he should testify and "explain" the photographs. Graner's lawyers are sitting in front of him, while he stands next to a projection screen, pointer in hand, with the photographs coming up, slide show style.

"Well, here I positioned him like this, just to get him real embarrassed. And the hood was just a, a little extra, you know, and I think it just, well it gives it that oomph to finally get 'im to talk. He looks damn uncomfortable, doesn't he?"

I'm sorry. I know it's not funny. I'm bad. I'll go back in my hole now, to repost in another week.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Tortured acceptance

Dahlia Withlick over at Slate has an excellent piece on Gonzales and torture, but her critique of the Bush Administration is particularly eloquent:

"The Bush administration's party line on every smudge and tear it has inflicted upon the Constitution has been: "Trust us—we know what we're doing." But it's hard to trust a government that either won't disclose what it's doing or denies what we know it to be doing behind closed doors. From the Patriot Act, to its treatment of aliens, to its indefinite detainment of citizens, and the sham of its military tribunals, we have been advised at every turn that the administration has only the national interest at heart. And even that argument might have been defensible were the government honest about what it deemed our best interests to be. Many, if not most, Americans were once willing to trust the Bush administration to protect them in wartime. But when government officials cannot publicly stand behind the extreme positions they have staked out in private; when they espouse one view in secret and irreconcilable politically correct versions before the cameras; when not a single individual is ever held to account for genuine government screw ups—such as those at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib—one is left only to wonder which individuals and ideas we were meant to trust in the first place. "

I just love this. She put so many of my worries and feelings into an exponentially better paragraph than I ever could.

More importantly, we're left with the question of torture, one that I'm extremely uncomfortable with. Other parts of her article argue that Gonzales' position is defensible, that torture is defensible in some ways. Ezra has made similar arguments on Pandagon. I'm just not so sure.

The very idea of torture signifies horrid things in my mind, as it does in most I'm sure. I can't bring myself to overcome the symbolic weight of torture in order to mull it over as a legitimate strategy. Parts of me simply resort to the old Golden Rule, even though it's unsophisticated. I try to breach that hurdle by accepting the realities of our world: there will always be torture (probably), so if it can prevent loss of lives, shouldn't it be used? Still, even when I force myself to try and see the possible situations where it should be legitimate, I can't. I am unable to do so internally. Which is why I point others to articles like these, I can read the arguments, but never make them myself.

I guess my other discomfort comes from the fact that the prisoners tortured in Iraq most likely knew nothing. Any evidence gleaned was minimal, it was all for nothing, and tarnished our presence irreparably. So if I can't ever support torture, regardless of current political realities, how could I ever condone it with this administration?

I guess I'll just await the invention of the truth serum.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


As this article from the New York Times notes, the Pentagon has finally ordered a post named "Sexual Assault Response Coordinator" created at every US Military base in the world, as a means to deal effectively with the high rates of sexual assault within the military. I am trying to evoke more positive associations with feminist gains, rather than the "it's-2004-we-should-have-had-this-20-years-ago" type feelings. The coordinator, also called a SARC, appears to be a realistic and effective way of punishing assaulters, in the least, and perhaps discouraging them, at best. In the past women rarely had a superior they felt comfortable discussing sexual assault with, so hopefully incidents will decrease.

This really is an important step for women in an institution known for lagging behind cultural practices.

At the University, we have the Title IX Coordinator, who investigates sexual harrassment and assault, as well as RA's, Provosts, and others who can serve as non-threatening resources for women who have been assaulted. Yet most community police stations lack this. Wouldn't it be amazing this kind of post could, some day, be created in most police stations in the country? So women (and men) who have been assaulted feel there is a safe person to talk to, and we could come close to knowing the true rates of sexual assault.