Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A handy list of white victims of police abuse, or Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #AllLivesMatter

When Dylann Roof was arrested alive after murdering nine black church-goers in Charleston, SC, Traci Blackmon wrote:
Good thing he wasn't suspected of stealing a cigarillo...
Or picking up a toy gun in Walmart.
Or playing on a swing with his toy gun.
Or playing his music too loud.
Or running away from cops.
Or selling cigarettes on a corner.
Or driving in the wrong neighborhood.
Good thing his crime was killing 9 people in a prayer meeting.
...otherwise, he might be in a morgue instead of custody.
Blackmon alludes mostly to black people killed by the police (Michael Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Eric Garner). Why she includes Jordan Davis, I'm not sure—Davis's killer was not a cop—and who she's referring to with "driving in the wrong neighborhood" I don't know either—Google tells of many people killed after driving into the "wrong neighborhood", and those examples include white people who drove into black neighborhoods. But Blackmon's general point is clear: she thinks that if Roof had been black, he would not have been taken alive.

She overlooks the obvious analogy, the duo known as the Beltway Sniper. Like Dylann Roof, John Allen Muhammad and  Lee Malvo targeted people of another race because they had been taught to understand power primarily in racial terms—Muhammad was a member of the US cult, the Nation of Islam. When they were captured, Muhammad and Malvo, like Roof, were taken into custody.
Blackmon may not mention them because they don't fit the #BlackLivesMatter narrative that police killings are primarily a matter of race. But The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded that US police killed 1,130 black people and 2,151 white people between 1999 and 2011. If that data is accurate, the police kill twice as many white people.
For every well-known black victim of the police, there are equivalent white victims:
Unarmed white people killed after a conflict with police
James Whitehead was shot in the head by a police officer of a different race than his.
Robert Cameron Redus, pulled over for speeding and shot after saying sarcastically, “Oh, you’re gonna shoot me?”
Jessica Hernandez, whose car may have been heading toward a police officer.
Jason Westcott, who probably did not know the intruders were the police, had $200 worth of marijuana in his home.
Derek Cruice, shot in the face while wearing nothing but basketball shorts.

Deven Guilford, 17, killed after flashing his lights at a police car that had bright lights.
White people killed holding a harmless object
Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old, killed because he was outside with a BB rifle.

Christopher Roupe, a 17-year-old, answered the door holding a WII controller.

Sal Colusi held a cell phone.

White people killed holding knives

James M. Boyd, a homeless man who may have been about to surrender.

Kristiana Coignard, a bipolar 100-pound teenager who entered a police station with a knife.

White people killed accidentally

Autumn Mae Steele, arrested for domestic abuse and killed by a cop who was trying to shoot her dog.

White people in no position to harm anyone

David Kassick, shot lying facedown in the snow after being stopped for an expired inspection sticker.

Michael E. Bell, shot with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Keith Vidal, restrained and tasered, then shot.

White people who died because of police neglect

Michael Saffioti, whose allergic reaction to his food was ignored.

Brenda Sewell, whose guards withheld her prescription medicine.

White people legally executed under questionable circumstances

Cecil Clayton, a mentally ill man whose brain was damaged in a sawmill accident.

Cameron Todd Willingham, convicted due to evidence that was discredited after his death.

A few white victims whose abuse wasn't fatal

Jonathan Meister, a deaf man who was tasered and beaten.

Colin Farmer, a blind man shot in the back with a taser because his stick was mistaken for a sword.

Ashley Gabrielle Huff, who spent a month in jail because spaghetti sauce on a spoon in her car was mistaken for meth.

Chad Chadwick, beaten, tasered, and thrown into isolation for two days after a friend called the police to report him as suicidal.

Christine Abbott, who sued Baltimore after a “rough ride” like the one that broke Freddy Gray’s neck.

Nicholas King, 14, shot because he held a toy rifle.
To race reductionists, statistics matter more than lives, so white victims are irrelevant. They focus on the fact everyone knows: if police killings were racially proportionate in a country where 77.7% of the population is white and 13.2 % is black, there would be six times as many white victims. But race is only the public face of police abuse. Candace McCoy, a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said, "Felony crime is highly correlated with poverty, and race continues to be highly correlated with poverty in the USA." In “The Crime of Being Poor”, Paul Wright wrote, “White prisoners tend to share one thing with their black and Hispanic compatriots: poverty. Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest.”

Here are the hard numbers on poverty in the US, from Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity:
United States19,027,40010,312,40012,853,1003,555,50045,748,400
While correlation is not causation, the fact that twice as many police victims are white and that fact that twice as many white people live in poverty suggests that police killings may actually be racially proportionate—not to the racial mix of the entire US, but to the racial mix of America’s poor.
ETA: The two-to-one ratio continues today, according to The Counted: people killed by police in the United States in 2015:


ETA: See comments for additions by my readers.

ETA: The 2-1 ration is also at Investigation: Police shootings - Washington Post:

Monday, June 29, 2015

A few thoughts about The Phantasmagorical Cross-Cultural Sexual Cogitation Panel

I spent the weekend at Fourth Street Fantasy, which was up to its usual high standards.  All of the panels consisted of smart and amusing people, and The Phantasmagorical Cross-Cultural Sexual Cogitation Panel was no exception, so when I quibble, please note that I'm not quibbling with individuals. Some panels simply don't cohere, which may mean they need to be held again, or may mean they're not quite Fourth Street Panels, or may just mean I wanted more than I should've.

Before I say anything about sex and storytelling, here's what underlies my thinking:

1. I like explicit sex in stories when the scene shows a significant change in the relationship between the characters.

2. I like writing to educate people about sex. There's a reason there's a condom when Wolfboy loses his virginity.

3. I completely sympathize with gay folks who want more gay characters. There's a reason I've done my best to include some in every novel I've written since the first, and if I ever do a sequel to Cats Have No Lord, I'll be revealing that not all of the characters are as straight as they may've seemed. (But I'm not making a retroactive announcement, 'cause what's not in the text doesn't count.)

That said, when I listen to panels like The Phantasmagorical Cross-Cultural Sexual Cogitation Panel, I feel like people doing alt-sex panels want more frequent, more varied, and more accurate sex in the same way NRA members want more frequent, more varied, and more accurate guns. They're not quite getting the point of stories.

At the beginning of the panel, someone shared the fact that 3.8% of the adult population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This isn't significantly different than eighty years ago, when the accepted percentage was about 2%. People were surprised that the number was so small, which is common: the media has gone from making minority genders invisible to making them seem more common than they are, and fandom has lots of folks of different genders because we've always prided ourselves on being accepting.

But I'm a little sorry I didn't raise my hand to stress the change that matters most: The US has gone from a few folks supporting gay marriage to the majority of folks supporting it, and the majority of Americans would not be upset if a child was gay or lesbian. There are people who say the future is queer, and they may be right, but the data we have suggests the future may still be more straight than queer, yet no one will judge anyone on the basis of their preferences for consensual sex.

ETA: Shorter version: In the future, no one will give a fuck who you fuck, so long as the fucking's consensual.

ETA: Related in my head: Your Sex Is Not Radical | Yasmin Nair

Friday, June 26, 2015

My favorite cartoon about the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, and a comment

ETA: The legal issue should be simple. When segregation was legal, forbidding interracial marriage made legal sense; when black folks got equal rights, that had to include the legal right to marry. The situation is no different with gay folks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Two examples of the unexpected consequences of banning (pornography and swastika)

History Lesson: what happened when Canada enacted a feminist anti-porn law? | A Glasgow Sex Worker:
Within the first two and a half years after the Butler decision, well over half of all Canadian feminist bookstores had had materials confiscated or detained by customs.
Swastika (banned in Germany):
A controversy was stirred by the decision of several police departments to begin inquiries against anti-fascists. In late 2005 police raided the offices of the punk rock label and mail order store "Nix Gut Records" and confiscated merchandise depicting crossed-out swastikas and fists smashing swastikas. In 2006 the Stade police department started an inquiry against anti-fascist youths using a placard depicting a person dumping a swastika into a trashcan. The placard was displayed in opposition to the campaign of right-wing nationalist parties for local elections.

ETA: For anyone who doesn't know the history of the swastika before the Nazis appropriated it: Swastika - Wikipedia

Two favorite versions of The Internationale. What are yours?

Tony Babino - L'Internationale:

Soul Flower Mononoke - The Internationale:

For those who don't know the song, here's a more traditional take in Russian from the movie Reds:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On subverting symbols, why I wrote Captain Confederacy, and the current Confederate flag controversy

Let's get the big one out of the way: No Confederate flag should have a place of honor on a US federal, state, county, or town government building. They are the flags of a 19th-century slaveocracy, 400,000 rich Americans of all races who seceded because they wanted to keep owning humans. Most of them were white Christians, but the group included black men and women like William Ellison and Maria Weston, Jews like Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, American Indians like Confederate General Isacc Stand Watie, and Asians like Christopher and Stephen Bunker, the children of Siamese twins Chang and Eng. What united them was the willingness to buy and sell slaves of African descent. The last flag of slavery fell at Appomattox and never should have been officially raised again. But it returned when Southern states opposed the civil rights initiatives of the '50s and '60s. Real conservatives would want states to go back to the flags they flew before those new flags were made official by rich racists.

And now, the but: No flag should be banned. Make symbols taboo, and you give them power. The way to weaken symbols is to subvert them. That was my intention when I wrote Captain Confederacy. This is the cover to the first issue:

It was reproduced at Scolding Polemic Bun Toons! YAY! | Ty Templeton's ART LAND!!, where I said,
As the author of Captain Confederacy, I’ll give you your answer about the guy in the snake suit: in the first issue, he was an actor in a propaganda unit in a racist parallel world Confederacy. He turns against the program. The series had two arcs: the first was focused on the white guy who played Captain Confederacy. In the second, published by Epic, a black woman became Captain Confederacy. The whole thing began as a comment on nationalistic superheroes, because there’s something about wearing flags and hitting people that has always bothered me.

Historical footnote: A Captain Marvel one-shot from Marvel featuring Monica Rambeau was the first comic book from a major company that starred a black female superhero. The second Captain Confederacy series from Epic was the first comic book series from a major company that starred a black female superhero. I’m a little proud of that.

And last, I completely agree that the Confederate flag has no place on any government building in the USA.
This post was inspired by When Anti-Racists Adopted the Confederate Battle Flag - Hit & Run : Reason.com. Its use of "anti-racist" seems ahistorical—at least, I never encountered the term then—but the article's interesting for any student of the civil rights era.

This post was also inspired by this short story: "The Appropriation of Cultures" by Percival Everett

Monday, June 22, 2015

Falcon by Emma Bull — now available as an ebook!

Currently available for $3.99 at

His life is a race against time. And time is winning.

He was a prince, until his world was plunged into civil war. He was a son, until he discovered his mother’s secret. He was an exile, until he became Niki Falcon, piloting a ship linked to his nervous system, crossing light-years in a breath, addicted to the drug that makes it all possible.

Now he needs to free a planet. But to save Lamia and defeat its enemy, Niki Falcon needs to cheat both physics and death...

A Locus Recommended Novel for 1989

New York Public Library list of best books for young adults, 1989

“Ms. Bull has an unabashed enthusiasm for the mythic dimensions of adventure fiction.” —The New York Times Book Review

“I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the story was going to end... Bull knows how to fit bombshells in unobtrusively, then explode them at exactly the right moment.” —Locus magazine

"Absorbing...Entrancing." —Lois McMaster Bujold

“Emma Bull is one of the best writers working today. She combines an elegant style with high adventure and thoughtful speculation. Falcon is one of my favorite novels. Read it.” — Steven Brust

“Falcon soars! Exciting, evocative, and entertaining. I couldn’t put it down!” —Chris Claremont

“A taut and chilling SF adventure. Bull is outstanding among the new generation of writers.” —Julian May

"Stark and strong: Strict science fiction, purely myth. A perfect novel!" —R. A. MacAvoy