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VIDEO: Jon Stewart on Race (& Ferguson in the Media)

6:13 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell


Jon Stewart returned from a brief hiatus with a brilliant take down of the racially charged Ferguson coverage in the media, primarily on FOX News.

Not that they are the only offenders:

But there’s no denying Fox’s work is especially egregious, as called out by Salon in Joan Walsh’s recent piece “Ferguson’s booming white grievance industry: Fox News, Darren Wilson and friends:”

Why, besides racism, are Wilson’s supporters so convinced of his innocence? Well, any good grift will involve a hoax or two, to gin up the sense of outrage. First there was ‘Josie,’ a purported friend of Wilson’s who called in to a radio show helmed by gun-loving wingnut Dana Loesch to tell Wilson’s side of the story. ‘Josie’ insisted that Brown attacked Wilson, grabbed his gun, and the terrified cop shot only in self-defense. The problem? The details were almost identical to those shared on a fake Facebook page set up to look like Wilson’s own. But before the tale could be debunked, not only Fox but CNN had reported on ‘Josie’s’ tale with some credulity. As karoli notes over at Crooks and Liars, it’s not clear whether Loesch was punked, or was in on the punking.

Then we saw right-wing blogger Jim Hoft, named ‘the dumbest man on the Internet’ by Media Matters, peddling a phony X-ray or CT scan purporting to show that Wilson suffered a fractured eye socket scuffling with Brown. Unfortunately, a little sleuthing revealed the image in question came from a facility at the University of Iowa and had nothing to do with the Ferguson case. Oops. Of course Fox ran with the story, but ABC News also reported that Wilson had suffered a ‘serious facial injury,’ claiming its own local source.

Of course Ferguson’s white grievance industry is getting major help from Fox News, the grievance industry’s biggest grifters. It’s funny, a couple of weeks ago Attorney General Eric Holder spent a few days as Fox’s favorite administration figure, with Bill O’Reilly and the crew at ‘The Five‘ piously instructing Ferguson protesters to trust the attorney general, who had taken over the inquiry into Mike Brown’s shooting. No more. On Friday’s ‘Five’ Andrea Tantaros declared that Holder ‘runs that DOJ like the Black Panthers would,’ while the whole team endorsed her claim that the attorney general is ‘race-baiting.’

Fox has peddled every allegation of wrongdoing by Mike Brown from the beginning of the story. On Fox and Friends Monday morning, Linda Chavez argued that the media should stop calling the teenager ‘unarmed’ because ‘we’re talking about an 18-year-old man who is 6-foot-4 and weighs almost 300 pounds, who is videotaped just moments before the confrontation with a police officer strong-arming an employee and robbing a convenience store.’ So Mike Brown can’t be considered unarmed because … he had arms?

Street Art shows a silhoutte of a man in an American flag throwing teargas back on police against a background that says FILM THE POLICE

But only independent and citizen journalists told the real story.

And Dex Digital, writing for Medium, offered the provocative “Face it, blacks. Michael Brown let you down:”

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Rainbow Overboard: Carnival’s Faux Pas

12:21 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

A controversy broke out in queer social media yesterday — and just as quickly died down again.

A travel agency called Al and Chuck Travel chartered a cruise on a Carnival ship with special performances by some of the popular drag queen stars of the Reality TV program Ru-Paul’s Drag Race. Six days before departure, ticket holders received a letter from Carnival Vice-President Vicky Rey informing them that passengers would not be permitted to dress in drag. Daily Kos was among the many popular outlets which began to report the story:

So, essentially, Carnival has decided they like collecting gay people’s money by marketing to the community. But, if the gays’ ‘behavior affects the comfort and enjoyment of other [heterosexual, bigoted] guests,’ they’re kicked off the ship.

One passenger is understandably confused by the vague directive on what is appropriate behavior that will not disturb ‘the comfort and enjoyment of other guests.’ The gay experience is heterosexual people can be very easily disturbed by relatively minor things, he asks: ‘I’m worried that holding my partner’s hand could get a rise out of some parents… Will I be kicked off for that? What about a romantic kiss at dinner? This is awful!’

A fabulous drag queen

Are drag queens harmful to children? One Carnival employee thought so.

Perhaps worst of all, both of those perennial scapegoats — the need for security and the need to ‘think of the children’ — are cited in attempts to spin the situation.

I posted about this on my Facebook wall, where a former Carnival passenger cautioned against reacting hastily — she recalled a male partner of hers who routinely cross-dressed on goth subculture-themed cruises. Sure enough, by the end of the day Carnival caved to the intense social media pressure. Gay South Florida reports:

Carnival Cruise Lines of Miami has apologized to gay passengers on an upcoming drag cruise who were told Monday they would be kicked off the liner Glory if they cross-dressed in public.

“Anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so,” writes Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill, adding that any passengers who are still unhappy and choose not to travel will be given full refunds.

A mutual acquaintance brought Rogi Riverstone, the creator of the above video, to my attention because we were both talking about this story. Rogi makes the point that we need to hold Al and Chuck Travel responsible for how quickly they seemed willing to capitulate. Hours before the apology of Carnival’s president, Al and Chuck Travel were boasting of their gay activist cred in public statements (they’re strong supporters of Human Rights Campaign, those honored guests in Obama’s veal pen) and insisting that a ban on drag is necessary for security reasons in a “post 9-11 world.”

Riverstone retorts:

This has nothing to do with 9-11, it’s a load of crap. Genderqueers did not blow up any buildings. You may be a gay man, but you are obviously a cisgendered gay man, and identify with hetero binaries. In other words, Mary, you pass as one of them and you’re going to enforce an outdated, unhealthy and arbitrary dress code that requires people with penises to wear pants and people with vulvas to wear non-pants.

This is sick, this is toxic … Shove your Chick-Fil-A Cruise!

In the wake of the Chick-Fil-A controversy, there were calls to not just boycott that hateful brand but to organize days of appreciation for other corporate brands which were perceived as supportive. What began as Starbucks Appreciation Day ballooned into a day of support for other major corporations like Macy’s. It’s possible — even probable — that most of the employees and management of Carnival Cruise Lines are open-minded, queer-loving people but this incident reminds us that brand support is fragile. When corporations answer to their shareholders first and their ethics second, support for equality will only last as long as it is perceived to be profitable. After all, let’s not forget the example of Walter Mack and Pepsi.

The other lesson one might take away from this incident is a reminder that a segment of the LGBT population is still all too happy to throw the rest of the rainbow overboard to protect themselves.

Photo by Phillip Pessar under a Creative Commons license