Sunday, October 29, 2006

Environmentally-friendly but not worker-friendly

Via brownfemipower, here's a video that highlights some of the labor abuses in the developing Mexican electronics industry.



Notice that some of the workers exposed to toxic materials are working at salvage and recycling centers, preventing environmental problems from those materials seeping out of landfills, but the workers themselves are not protected.

The US government declined to sign an international agreement pledging not to dump discarded electronics on poor countries, so US computer-users currently must take it upon themselves to see that their electronics are disposed of responsibly. Since you're reading this on the internet, and probably a US citizen, this is something you will have to think about when you're looking to upgrade. For info on how to recycle your computer in a way that is friendly both to the environment and the people who live in it, see this CNET article, or consult this list of responsible e-cyclers.

Idaho's impending blue shift

I can't pick any choice paragraphs from this article because it's all amazingly good news. Jerry Brady, Larry Grant and Jana Jones are all statistically tied with their Republican opponents in their races for governor, congress and state school superintendent, respectively. Polling indicates that far more people disapprove of the Republican candidates in these races than disapprove of the Democratic one. Check this out:
Twenty-seven percent of voters say they have an unfavorable opinion of Otter; Brady's negative figure is 14 percent. Luna is viewed unfavorably by 22 percent, while only 6 percent see Jones that way. Twenty-six percent say they have an unfavorable opinion of Risch; LaRocco's figure is 16 percent.

Worst of all is Sali, who famously has been called an "absolute idiot" by Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, whose words star in Grant TV spots. Sali's unfavorable rating is 33 percent, the same proportion who see him favorably. Grant's ratio is very positive, with 34 percent viewing him favorably and 13 percent unfavorably. With voters hungry for change, those perceptions of the standard-bearers of the party in power are damaging.

It's coming down to those four letters - GOTV. If you live in Latah County and want to volunteer on election day, email me at saraeanderson(at)gmail(dot)com so I can sign you up with the Latah County Democrats. If you live elsewhere, contact your county party and see what you can do. Ask for a few hours off on election day, tell everyone you know to vote, bring at least five people to the polls.

This is possible!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Baby Baklava

It's been a while since I've blogged about food, so here's an oldie but goodie from my food blogging days. I'm going to head over to my parents' for dinner on Sunday and have been charged with making dessert. I anticipate that these will go over just fine.



Aren't they adorable? I was surprised at how well these turned out, and how little effort they really required. I brushed butter on four or five sheets of phyllo and stacked them. I then cut them into squareish shapes and stuffed those into the cups of a muffin tin. Then, I mixed about 1.5 cups each of crushed walnuts, crushed pecans and pine nuts, and some large amount of cinnamon (probably about two and a half tablespoons). This mixture was poured into the phyllo-lined muffin cups, and then I put the pans in a 375 degree oven and baked for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the phyllo dough were browned. During baking, I warmed up to a boil a syrup of 1 cup honey, 2 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. This was poured into the cups (about 1.5 tablespoons per cup). Cooling was easy when the temperature was hovering around 0 degrees (F) outside.

Kendra, this is for you

A combination of two of your greatest interests: politics and football.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Who wants Sali to win and why?

Check out these numbers from the FEC on the ID-01 funds from the first 18 days in October:
ID-01: Larry Grant (D) - $150k raised, $65k Cash-on-Hand; Bill Sali (R) - $55k raised, $43k CoH
This means that the vast majority of money being spent in the name of Bill Sali was actually raised by PACs and party bigwigs, and relatively little has been given directly to him. When you donate to the RNCC or the Club for Growth, you don't necessarily know where your money is going. I find it interesting that so little of the funds supporting Sali were actually given to him, but to generic groups that support "conservatives." Contrast this with Grant, most of whose funding and support has come from direct donations - about three times the direct donations than Sali has recieved.

Sali's support comes from those who want to keep Republican seats and this failed crop of Republicans in power; Grant's support comes from people who want Larry Grant to go to Congress. Not a minor distinction.

Dollars to help Idaho politics make sense - Give today!

With huge amounts of money being poured in to Bill Sali's campaign from independent groups such as the NRCC and the detestible Club for Growth - over a quarter of a million dollars this month - Grant's campaign can use your money now more than ever. The DCCC has just today upgraded the ID-01 race to "red to blue" status, and will be contributing funds to this race that just might see a Democrat pull ahead. I just dropped $50 at his netroots donation page, and encourage any reader to do what he or she can. As Grassroots for Grant quotes from the Swing State Project:
Today, Friday, is the last best day to donate to your favorite candidates. Here's why: Over the weekend, campaigns will make their final choices about where to spend money - ad buys, mailers, get-out-the-vote efforts, etc. After that point, almost all major spending decisions will be complete. That makes it hard to effectively spend money received during the last week of the campaign. Final-week contributions are appreciated, sure, but cash received by today is a lot more valuable.
On Monday night, I was at the county Democratic headquarters with other volunteers stuffing envelopes for local candidates and listening to talk radio. It was a call-in show about the Bush administration and the Iraq war, and a woman called in sobbing about her nephew's injuries in Iraq. It was horrifying to hear, and really brought tears to my eyes. I took comfort that I was at least sitting in an office, giving my time and energy towards turning one of the nation's reddest states blue, and contributing to changing this country's direction toward sane policies and compassionate governing. A year ago, I would never have imagined I could feel that I was contributing to national politics from Idaho. I've been talking to Idaho Democrats who are also feeling newly empowered, and see people like me who have been giving where they never thought it would make a difference before. This is the year to get out and make your voice heard.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pro-torture Cheney to lend Sali a hand

Vice President Dick Cheney - who recently called the use of waterboarding in interrogating prisoners a "no-brainer" - will soon be back in Idaho to help raise funds for Sali. Cheney has decided to stop being coy about his support for torture, but that won't keep Sali from taking the money of his supporters. I'm appalled, and invite anyone to email Sali to inform him of exactly the kind of company he keeps.

UPDATE: If I'd taken a few minutes to look, I'd have noticed that Cheney is actually set to come by for a "victory rally" and not a fundraiser. Whoops. Still, yech.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This makes me happy

Sometimes it's great to be wrong

On a recent Huckeberries Online thread about the chances of Grant winning the race, I said this:
I think Sali has done a terrible job of campaigning. Contrast his campaigning style with Otter's. Neither is an incumbent, but both are Republicans in Idaho which probably gives them the same advantage that an incumbent would have in a less one-sided state. Otter has avoided Brady at every turn, and even his campaign ads attack Kempthorne and don't even mention Brady. Otter's hardly lifted a finger while Brady is campaigning his butt off, but I doubt that Brady can win the name recognition battle in the end. Sali, on the other hand, has been yammering about Larry Grant since the very beginning, and look where it's gotten him. The more people know who Larry Grant is, the more they know they don't have to vote for Bill Sali. At the Lewiston debate it was really clear - Grant's closing statement was about his plans "when" he goes to congress, while Sali's statement was about how liberal Larry Grant is. What do I remember after all of that? Larry Grant.
I'm still convinced that Sali spent too much time highlighting Grant's existence, but it looks like I have good reason to reconsider my appraisal of Otter's hands-off campaigning style.
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer joined Jerry Brady, Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, at a press conference a few minutes ago to release Brady’s internal polls – which now show Brady pulling into the lead with a two-point edge over Republican Butch Otter. Brady’s polling, conducted by Goodwin Simon Victoria Research, showed Brady trailing Otter 29 percent to 48 percent in June, closing the gap to 34-45 in early September, and then pulling ahead 42-40 in mid-October. Statistically, that’s a dead heat.
Sounds pretty good to me. See here for more info on the poll, which seems pretty solid.

A family's struggle with addiction

Turn your speakers on and listen to this story I heard on NPR yesterday.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Grassroots

Idaho 2nd CD candidate Jim Hansen's campaign did not accept any donations from PACs. With only donations of $100 or less, he has managed to raise $110,888 in one of the country's reddest districts.

(Via Ridenbaugh Press)

Cultural customs < Religious dictates < Necessity in the physical world

Ann Appelbaum's recent Slate article about the "to veil or not" debate strikes me as completely pathetic. See here:
Given that polite behavior is required of schoolteachers or civil servants in other facets of their jobs, it doesn't seem to me in the least offensive to ask them to show their faces when dealing with children or the public. If Western tourists can wear sarongs in Balinese temples to show respect for the locals, so, too, can religious Islamic women show respect for the children they teach and for the customers they serve by leaving their head scarves on but removing their full-face veils.
She gives an example of traveling in Bali and knowing that it's considered rude to wear shorts or pants into a Balinese temple, so she sucks it up and looks like a dorky tourist in a sarong (I'm tempted to say she's not concerned so much about looking like a tourist but about wearing the silly clothes that silly Balinese people wear when practicing their silly religion - but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt) so as not to be rude and disruptive in a foreign culture.

What Applebaum does not appear to notice is that you can't just turn this situation around when it comes to the culturally-determined propriety of wearing a face-covering veil in a formal situation in a Western country. Namely, her religion does not dictate that she wear shorts into Balinese temples, whereas a Muslim woman's veil, depending on the views of the woman, is pretty cosmically important. Applebaum goes on to give some examples where one cannot expect some of their specific religious practices to be accomodated by their workplace.
Still, freedom to practice religion in the West shouldn't imply freedom to hold jobs that impinge on that practice. An Orthodox Jew should not have an absolute right to work in a restaurant that is open only on Saturdays. A Quaker cannot join the Army and then state that his religion prohibits him from fighting. By the same token, a Muslim woman who wants to cover her face has no absolute right to work in a school or an office where face-to-face conversations are part of the job. It isn't religious discrimination or anti-Muslim bias to tell her that she must be polite to the natives, respect the local customs, try to speak some of the local patois—and uncover her face.
While I do not believe that religious beliefs and religion-related behaviors are beyond questioning, I do appreciate that what I consider to be the superstitions of others are still important to our shared culture, not to mention religious people themselves. Applebaum seems to think that we're constructing a society to be as secular as possible, instead of a society that serves and supports its community members.

Speaking of which, Applebaum seems to be completely unaware that English Muslims are, in fact, actually a part of English culture. There are lots of differences amongst English people, but what - besides reflexive racism and xenophobia - makes this particular one too much to bear? Does a veil make it any harder to communicate with someone than blindness (a condition that is protected against this type of discrimination under law) does? Is it unbearably rude to wear an eye patch in civil society? If the same obstacle to communication can be fairly easily overcome when it comes to disability, there's really no good reason why it can't be as easily overcome when it comes to religious customs.

As an example, accomodating the religious practices of others might be annoying, but it's also annoying when the church across the street from my apartment meets and I can't find any parking. I'm not about to complain to the church, though I would probably engage in some cultural disobedience if there were a downtown Moscow custom that gave men preferrential parking rights. Then again, if the church felt the need to congregate in the emergency room at Gritman hospital, I would object.

Even if we were to consider religious practices to be equally important as entrenched cultural customs, I don't see why it's more important for white Westerners to be comfortable than it is for Muslim (of whatever color) immigrants or indeed Muslim Westerners. Applebaum was sure to wear a sarong in a Balinese temple, but she apparently didn't mind sticking out like a sore thumb outside the temple. Where it is practical, I don't mind accomodating the religious beliefs of others. I'm not religious, and don't expect to be changing your religion. The culture we share, however, is where I and even veiled women get an input. A woman covering her face with a veil does not impede the exercise of my own rights, and doesn't really make working with her practically difficult. I think Anne can get over it.

UPDATE: Beware the discussion at the Slate site. It's ridiculously anti-Muslim and xenophobic.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Salon notices Jesusland

Check out this article about Rexburg, Idaho, home of BYU-Idaho. Given that BYU-Idaho is basically the only thing there, and BYU-Idaho is basically a Mormon Magnet in a pretty LDS-heavy part of the state as it is, I find the "they're so weird and Republican" tone of the article to be sort of ridiculous. It's like writing an expose on the poor treatment of electric utilities in Amish country. Honestly, I feel a little protective of the LDS community in my state and in other places. They're conservative, sure, and I know a few people who have been scarred by growing up in a community that demands a kind of conformity that some people can't attain. Still, it's a surprisingly flexible religion (as religions go - they've changed doctrine about race, and endorse the idea of evolution), and I appreciate the genuineness in their promotion of happy families and happy communities.

Grant-Sali Debate Drinking Game

The fates have smiled upon my social life and preyed on my liver in such a way that this week's meeting of Moscow's Drinking Liberally chapter falls on the same night as a televised debate between one of the most nationally-visible Idaho Democratic candidates in years, Larry "not Bill Sali" Grant, and his Republican opponent Bill "smug garden gnome" Sali. I attended an earlier debate between the two several weeks ago (and did not blog about it as I promised I would), and it was an interesting experience, even if no one brought their big foam fingers. To make up for the complete lack of silliness* at the aforementioned debate, I am introducing some rules for a Grant-Sali Debate Drinking Game. Before I ley them out, please remember that Drinking Liberally is drinking responsibly, so do break the rules as propriety and safety require. Also, neither the national Drinking Liberally group nor its individual chapters may endorse any candidate, and I do not speak for the organization.

Sali-Grant Debate Drinking Game Rules, 2006

I. Take a drink if...
*Sali calls Grant "liberal."
*Grant calls himself "moderate."
*a candidate is wearing cowboy boots or a bolo tie. Take one drink per tie or pair of boots, per candidate. In the unlikely event a candidate is wearing only one cowboy boot, see part III.
*Grant uses the term "career politician."
*Sali invokes the specter of a Pelosi-led House.
*a candidate says "family values" but means "conservative Christian values."
*the term "tax and spend" is used.
*either candidate tells a verifiable falsehood.
*either candidate contradicts himself.
*a joke falls flat with the audience.
*a candidate assures you of his impending win. (e.g. "When I go to Congress...")
*the term "working" is used as a euphamism for "poor."
*the term "American dream" is used.
*a policy is touted as beneficial to "family farmers."
*Sali says at any time "stay the course."
*Grant mentions Brian Schweitzer.
*Grant mentions hunting as a child, or alludes to an affinity for firearms.
*a candidate displays real and objective lunacy (I'm remembering something about trees being 60% crude oil...).

II. Finish your drink if...
*either candidate completely avoids answering a question.
*either candidate admits to not knowing enough to answer a question.

III. As a non-drinking-related bonus, eat your hat if...
*Sali associates himself with Dennis Hastert.
*making out occurs.
*Sali is spotted conversing with a pink yard flamingo.

I think that ought to do the trick. Feel free to suggest any other rules, and I've set my brother in law to work at creating some of his own. The debate will be shown on Idaho Public Television, and may even be uploaded to the web at IPTV's site.

*With the notable exception of Grant's respone to a question about alcohol control that ended with "...If I'm going to decide what to spend my money on - alcohol or meth - I'd choose meth...[laughter] Prevention."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Back

I was on vacation for the last week and didn't touch a computer the whole time. It was really refreshing to take some time away from the news, but I think I've had about enough refreshment (metaphorical as well as the kind that comes in wine glasses) as I can handle for a while. Time to head back in.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Zunafish story

One reason (other than laziness) that blogging has been so sparse around here lately is that I've been reading a lot of books. There's a service I've discovered called Zunafish, which allows people to trade old paperbacks and CDs with each other, and I'm totally hooked. I imagine this same kind of thing could be accomplished with a good used bookstore, but with the small population in my area and therefore the small selection at used bookstores, Zunafish has proven to be pretty useful to me. It costs $1 to arrange each trade, and shipping tends to be a little under $2, so I end up spending a lot less money than I would buying the books new or even used. I also reuse the envelopes in which the books are sent to me, so I cut down on costs and resources that way, too. Neat, huh?

Friday, October 13, 2006

So dirty so soon

Sali (and at least one sticky-fingered Muscovite supporter of his) must be scared. New poll numbers are showing Larry Grant within single digits of Sali, and now more dirty politicking. Apparently, there have been robocalls in Idaho commissioned by the RNCC on Sali's behalf that are worded such that it sounds like it's a Democratic operation. Grant's online campaign coordinator said she's getting plenty of letters like this in response:

Last night while trying to relax with my family, your campaign,
using an autodialing program called my home 4 times within an
hour.

Now, not only did you interrupt my valueable family time,
I'm a red white and blue REPUBLICAN.

So take me off your get-out-the-vote phone campaign because that little "D" behind your name on my ballot tells me all I need to know about your politics!

Respectfully,

These are not the tactics of a confident campaign.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Democrat can't win in Idaho, eh?

Sali 49, Grant 43. Hot damn!

UPDATE: If you're thinking what I'm thinking, and also an Idahoan, please be sure to contact your county's Democratic party and lend a hand in their get out the vote effort. Cynicsm and apathy just aren't going to cut it this year, people.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hmph!

This morning when I left for work, I had three yard signs in my yard: Jackie Groves Twilegar for Controller, Pat Vaughan for Assessor and Larry Grant for Congress. When I came home from work this evening, I only had two - the Grant sign is gone. How rude.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcome to the Carnival of the Feminists No. 24

NOTE: I've posted a few corrections, and thanks to commenters for pointing them out.

As what you might call a layfeminist - not academically trained in feminism or women's issues, and not professionally involved with any overtly feminist organizations or goals - I don't have any real area of expertise when it comes to feminism, so I decided to compile this carnival as a sort of feminist free-for-all. Consider this a chance to take the pulse of the feminist blogosphere and connect readers to the things feminists are saying right now about life, about culture, about each other. I'd like to thank everyone who made a submission, anyone who linked to this carnival to get the word out, and especially Natalie Bennett, who has kept me on the ball and given me guidance for putting this all together. I won't pretend that this is anywhere near comprehenseive, so if you wanted to include a link but I missed it or you didn't get it to me on time, go ahead and leave it in the comments. Remember to look for Carnival number 25 at Philobiblon on October 18.

So, without further ado...

Feminism and Pop Culture

tekanji in her post "Female Villans Can't Win" wonders when video game makers will be able to portray a female villan without her sex appeal being her most notable characteristic.

Sarah Louise Parry, AKA Barbie's worst enemy, isn't impressed that the only kind of compliments toward women in tabloids are the backhanded kind.

Louise Feminista gives us a feminist rationale for liking the work of Kylie Minogue. (Me, I just like dance pop.)

Natasha of feminish can't be sure: are the Long Blondes feminist or not?

American feminism and Muslim women

The feminist blogosphere has been abuzz this month on the cultural, racial, religious, and other divides that separate American feminism from Muslim women in America and abroad. If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, this conversation is not over. I don't have answers, but I do have links. Here goes...

Zola Malay begins to answer the question: "A Muslim feminist?"

Natasha, a Jordanian blogger, reacts to the news of an "honor killing" in her country. Check out this post at The Black Iris, and the following comment thread for more reactions.

Brownfemipower has some major problems with the ubiquity of the use of the burqa by white feminists as a symbol of female oppression. Bitch or BitchLab has more, and the Happy Feminist has some reactions to and links regarding the conversation that resulted from bfp's post, and Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon explains herself. Clare at Ink and Incapability adds this, and if you haven't seen enough after reading all the comments and links on those posts, my advice would be to watch Brownfemipower's Women of Color Blog to see where this all leads. (And please, be aware of the WoCB comment policy!)

Muslim Hedonist writes about "Race, Gender and the Mosque."

Five things feminism has done for me

This meme has caught fire, so check out this list of responses, or since there are too many to list here, do like me and let google compile the links.

Feminist vs. Feminist: toward constructive criticism

The bitch girls say: Guns don't kill feminists, people do.

tekanji is sick of the term "choice feminism."

belledame222 fights the sex-pos fight. points out that I've done a bad job of summarizing her piece: she's got a problem with the heteronormativity pervading feminist sexual politics.

Amber Rhea wonders what all these people around her are if they're not "real women."

Marcella Chester ponders the mysteries of ifeminism. (I want to know if they have to pay royalties to Apple.)

Misc.

Echidne pits science against pseudoscience, and has an idea of why pseudoscience sometimes wins out. Also see Theo on the same subject.

Uma of Indian Writing sheds some light on the dark side of women in India's class system.

Rhetorically Speaking wants to know how a popular male chef can criticize women for changing food culture.

Suki questions Austrialian leaders' committment to protecting its citizens from sexual harassment and discrimination.

The F-word blog catches an European court at reinforcing the wage gap.

Naiades finds makeup to be as limiting as anything else in a racist, sexist world.

Philobiblon and Feminish present a little history.

Pamela Slim scores an interview with Gloria Steinem.

petitpoussin praises female sex bloggers.

Action, Encouragement and Community-Building

I'd like to end with a few links that have come to my attention and could use the attention, encouragement, and maybe even monetary or other resources of the feminist blogosphere. Criticism amongst feminists can often feel a little less than constructive, so let's take this opportunity to acknowledge the unique challenges women face wherever they are, the strength it takes to face them, and offer our help to those who might need it.

Rachie of Living for Disco relates her navigation of the emotional minefield left behind by the experience of sexual harassment.

Ali Eteraz has a call to action on behalf of women sentenced to death by stoning in Iran.

After weathering the runaround that is acquiring emergency contraception in this county, Biting Beaver has found herself with an unplanned and unwelcome pregnancy, a $450 bill for RU-486, and a lot of anger. (On a similar subject, see Broadsheet's reportage on the National Abortion Federation's struggle to provide timely abortions to those who need them.)

Anyone wishing to leave their encouragement for Liz formerly of Granny Gets a Vibrator in the wake of her cancer diagnosis can do it at the blog of her daughter son (d'oh), Finnegan's Wake-up Call.

And - since I am the one hosting this - I'd like to direct any donation dollars that have been burning a hole in your pocket to a nonprofit in my area, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, which serves victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse in Latah and Whitman counties of Idaho and Washington, respectively.

Last but not least, the US national election is only 31 days away, so be sure to register to vote, see how you can get involved, keep reading and writing to keep the information flowing, and make sure women's voices are heard in the 2006 election!

UPDATE: Also check out the first African Women's Carnival.

Carnival of the Feminists 24 Pending

I'm looking at about 5:00 pm (PST) to have it up.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Carnival of the Feminists 24: getting down to the wire

Please be aware that the Carnival of the Feminists that I'll be hosting here on October 8th is coming very soon, so if there's a post you've been meaning to write or another good one you've seen and not yet submitted, go ahead and do so by emailing me at saraeanderson(at)gmail(dot)com, with Carnival of the Feminists in the subject line. I said before that the submission deadline will be October 6th at midnight, but I've decided to extend it to 10:00 pm on October 7th. Hope to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Avoiding repetitive strain injuries on the set of Handjob Honeys 8

I appreciate Amanda Marcotte's characterization of the recent rule institution at Spanish fashion shows of a minimum BMI (Body Mass Index) for models:
...there’s apparently been a lot of hand-wringing over the increasing skinniness of fashion models after some countries have taken it upon themselves to pass entirely sensible worker safety regulations demanding that models have BMIs that are considered not overly underweight. People are worried to death that this is some kind of slap at free speech or what have you, but since the impetus for the laws was a supermodel who starved herself to death, the truth of the matter is this is basically a necessary protection for the workers so that their employers can’t demand they sacrifice their health in order to keep their jobs.
That sounds just about right. These women are working for wages after all, and it is plainly exploitative to demand they choose between their safety and their meal-ticket (which they ironically won't need as much if they do land the job).

I'm reminded of a conversation I got into a few months back on a very similar issue where people tend to view the exploitation of women in the context of free speech and not worker safety: pornography. SugarBank, a porn-centered blog, recently discussed (careful, link very porny and not safe for work) the tension between exploitation and freedom of expression when it comes to violent and extremely degrading pornography. It began with an intraindustry discussion about simulating violence and degradation versus the various (and really, not that convincing) reasons to film it actually happening. Sam says:

Halcyon makes it clear that while most people see porn as pure entertainment, a minority use it to vindicate their ideas, making any judgement against the porn they like a comment on their lifestyle. If we take steps to limit what’s done on video, Halcyon sees her his private life as next inline for censorship. It’s a trap for the industry that pornographers are complicit in building.

Hollywood is allowed to portray anything it can imagine as long as performers are protected. If we need an actor in a movie to drink a bottle of vodka we replace the alcohol with water and ask them to act. Porn’s reluctance to embrace simulation, ironically in an industry where orgasms, pleasure and names are all routinely faked, makes the debate about extreme porn a referendum on people’s personal predilections. We should be able to take risks in our own lives which we don’t tolerate being forced on the people who entertain us.

Commenter Aurelius is also worried about the light extreme porn casts run-of-the-mill porn in:
So, we’ve pretty much agreed that the assaultive, coercive porn is at least potentially harmful to consumers as well as participants, that consumers of this type material are probably troubled although most don’t go on to become predators ala Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer or the BTK killer, that there may be a valid reason or reasons to supress this type material, and that stopping it is probably impossible. What we can’t quite figure out is whether the mainstream can or ought to try to accept standards or to self-impose standards, a point beyond which they will not go.
I responded:
See, I find it more useful to think of this in the context of safety at the workplace, less than an issue of free speech. While it mixes both issues, the porn biz is more of a money-driven industry than a collective of artists trying to get the word out. There aren’t a lot of people starving so that people will truly understand the message of their being pegged on-screen after all. I’ve heard a little about OSHA-like standards being enforced on a sort of volunteer-basis amongst some production companies, but why shouldn’t it be regulated by OSHA itself? If “pornographer” is an occupation, shouldn’t it meet with occupational safety and health standards?
Unfortunately, Aurelius' motivation to regulate degrading and violent porn is to make sure he can still obtain the sort he feels comfortable with (and I do to, by the way), so I found his eventual thinking to be a little too small. I think he's wrong to think that can (or should?) do nothing to regulate the production of such harmful types of pornography, and I think that the labor angle is the way to do it. It is absolutely important to maintain the right to free speech, your right does not extend to where you are speaking through another. If you're paying someone to be hurt on screen, you're making them do the heavy lifting for your speech and introducing an element of economic coercion to boot. After all, you can't force your employees to stand on the "not a step" of a ladder so as to express yourself. If you can get your friends to do it for free, that's another issue, and I have to wonder where you'll get such dumbass friends. But, to each his own. I can only surmise that exploitative and harmful pornography isn't seen in this light due to women's bodies being controlled by men being a social norm, but maybe that's my inner cynical feminist talking. (Being inner, cynical, and feminist doesn't make her wrong, though, does it?)

Monday, October 02, 2006

RIP, Helen Chenoweth-Hage

One of Idaho's most memorable politicians, Helen Chenoweth-Hage, was killed today in a car crash in Nevada. Her politics were basically antithetical to my own in all respects, but she'll always part of what makes Idaho Idaho. The thing I'll remember most is, of course, her infamous canned salmon comment and the great bumper stickers it spawned (pun intended!). I had a neighbor who doctored the one that said "Can Helen, not salmon" to say "Can salmon, not Helen." He did it in complete earnest, and forged pathways in ironic humor untouched even by the most gen-x-ish gen-x-er. May Ms. Chenoweth-Hage rest in peace, and my condolences to her loved ones.