Archive for October, 2010

Rob Ford, Toronto?

The fine residents of Toronto have elected Rob Ford as their mayor, from a rather uninspiring pack.

Most major cities do, from time to time, get bored of sensible, straight-laced politicians, what with their big fancy words and incomprehensible budgets. Tired of the inevitable sense of being cheated out of hard earned money by an evil cabal, the citizens get seduced by the impassioned shouting, or folksy affability, or deliberate anti-intellectualism, of a particular kind of candidate.

Often, this weirdly appealing ignorant rageaholic will make all sorts of sexist, racist, xenophobic, or just generally asinine and unsupportable comments, quite unapologetically, under the impression that they are stating a self-evident truth that other people are afraid to acknowledge.

Toronto’s new mayor, Mr. Ford, has a veritable cornucopia of such statements on the record from his various outbursts in the city council.

Wikipedia’s Rob Ford entry has a some highlights (most of which are available for your viewing entertainment on YouTube):

Ford opposed providing city funds to build bicycle lanes on roads. During the 2007 city budget debate, he said, “I can’t support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”
(…)
Ford strenuously objected to the possibility that a homeless shelter would open in his suburban Etobicoke ward. Later in the same year, he was quoted while berating an anti-poverty activist, “Do you have a job, sir? I’ll give you a newspaper to find a job, like everyone else has to do between 9 and 5.” In 2005, Ford told a homeless protestor, “I’m working. Why don’t you get a job?”
(…)
Ford argued against the city spending $1.5 million on AIDS prevention programs. Ford stated that “(AIDS) is very preventable,” and that “if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line. With respect to the increasing rates of women contracting the disease, Ford said; “How are women getting it? Maybe they are sleeping with bisexual men.”
(…)
During a debate at City Hall, Ford said, “Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out … that’s why they’re successful in life. … I’m telling you, Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over, because there’s no excuses for them. They’re hard, hard workers.”

At least the conservatives here in the UK aren’t openly racist and homophobic (though the rich-white-man sense of entitlement is obviously shared).

This may be a silly question, but what is it about the arts, the homeless, LGBTQ people (that’s Ford making the leap from AIDS to gay, not me, btw), and people from other countries that conservatives object to so strongly? And cyclists (though the Tory London mayor Boris and the new PM are both keen on cycling, so maybe it’s only in North America that people get jealous of their road space)?

Is it too big a leap to point out that these people are all identifiably ‘different’? That they are not conforming to a particular ‘norm’ – like having a 9-5 job and wearing a tie and owning a house and marrying a member of the opposite sex in order to reproduce and being a white person who doesn’t speak with a noticeable accent. And a car owner.

Can’t have the government money going to those different people, now can we? Nope, all those incentives and things should focus on car/office/house/spouse. Because that’s what ‘everyone else’ has to do. They have to be different in their spare time.

Insane Christian Proselytizers

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A friend of mine recently posted this on her Facebook: a Guardian article discussing the recent revelation that Insane Clown Posse are Christians.

The only ICP I have listened to is their parody of Eminem’s Slim Shady, Slim Anus, which, as parodies go, is pretty good. I knew their lyrics were of the angry and lewd variety, but having no interest in the usual woman-hating, violent lyrics typical to gangster rap, I never bothered to listen.

Obviously, not all gangster rappers are condoning violence or hateful behavior – like any story-tellers, one should not assume all first-person narratives they create are autobiographical; however, as with poets, there is a close connection to personal experience. Gangster rap in particular reflects a particular urban American environment, and the anger, fear, and aggression that such an environment breeds. There are plenty of Christian rappers; religion, like gangs, offers a kind of security and love in a very insecure and loveless environment.

What makes this particular article worth response, I think, is how absolutely, offensively ignorant ICP reveal themselves to be.

The song in which they ‘come out’ as Christians, Miracle, has lyrics expounding the miracles of everyday life – like, apparently, giraffes, fog, and magnets. And rainbows – which, naturally, had me associating ICP with this guy.

I have no objection to thinking that stuff in the world is amazing. Lots of it is. But thinking that ‘motherfucking scientists’ stop the world from seeming amazing is just plain stupid. Emptv posted a thorough response to the lyrics and video for ‘Miracle’ back in April to this ignorance-peddling.

What the Guardian article uncovers is something just as troubling, if not more so, that ICP’s apparent terror of comprehension. Interviewer Jon Ronson asked about some of their violent lyrics and how that sits with their Christianity:

“‘I stuck her with my wang. She hit me in the balls. I grabbed her by her neck. And I bounced her off the walls. She said it was an accident and then apologised. But I still took my elbow and blackened both her eyes.’ That’s clearly a song about domestic violence. So your Christian message is… don’t be like that man?”

“Huh?” Violent J repeats, mystified.

There’s a silence.

“I Stuck Her With My Wang is funny,” Violent J says. “Jokes. Jokes, man. Jokes. Jokes. Jokes. It’s just a ridiculous scenario. Silly stories, man. Silly stories. What’s she doing kicking him in the balls? We find it funny.

Funny?

What could be more hilarious that bouncing someone off the walls?

Some relevant, and appalling, statistics. “Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime”

Ha Ha Ha. Oh Violent J. The ladies getting their beatdowns is so fucking hilarious.

Not all Christians are woman-hating, science-hating nutjobs, of course (however much that view may be Biblically endorsed). Whether that is few, some, or most is too difficult to figure out at the moment. And plenty of other rappers have lyrics that portray or encourage similar violence; but as they haven’t taken to the press to proclaim how laughable it is, my absolute horror is saved for the benighted cretins who think that beating the crap out of a woman is a god damn joke.


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