Category Archives: crime

On Wonderful Canada and Much-Needed Marijuana Legalization

Triangle Man

Congratulations to Canada for being sensible enough to finally end senseless marijuana prohibition. Most people who have had experience smoking marijuana know that it is much less dangerous compared to drinking alcohol. I remember back in university, one of my first presentations in sociology class was about the how smoking marijuana and the US’ war on drugs have created this unjust more against marijuana despite the fact that alcohol, which is completely legal, can cause aggression and is involved in roughly half of all murders, rapes, and assaults. Compare that to marijuana. When was the last time you saw an aggressive person high on marijuana? It can cause a bit of paranoia, of course, but more often than not, its sedative effect is the most common experience.

I think most people who want access to marijuana in Canada already had access to it prior to legalization. It’s not that difficult finding marijuana in Canada. I remember back in university, marijuana tends to find you instead. The problem with marijuana is its legal consequences and how that affects people. Fortunately, Canada is planning to release and perhaps clear the records of felons caught with a certain amount of cannabis. However for some, it may be too late already.

People sometimes say that marijuana is a gateway drug. You start with marijuana and you move on to more potent illegal drugs. However, I saw how the prosecution of marijuana possession is the gateway to more serious crimes. One of my best friends in school tried selling and even growing marijuana when we were in high school. I remember he even asked me for advice for effective growing methods, but what do I know? Anyway, he was caught with possession or with possession with intent to sell and was sent to juvenile detention. I was already in university at the time and was spending time with a different circle of friends. I did hear from him and about him occasionally and learned that he later got involved with harder drugs, manufacturing methamphetamines, and even breaking and entering. The last time I saw him, he was out in a rough part of town, looking worse for the wear.

Even with marijuana being legalized, it would have still been illegal for him to be possessing drugs at such a young age, but both the stigma and the allure won’t be there since the drug would be legal. It would almost be akin to hiding a pack of cigarettes. But I believe his detention got him in the wrong path, not the drugs itself. He wasn’t poor back then or anything. He was raised in a middle-class household with both parents. It was simply the allure of drugs that got him in. Compare that to the rather mundane allure of legal cigarettes and alcohol to young teens.

And that’s just with teens. I know someone with a suspended sentence for possession of marijuana, not for recreational use but for her cancer-stricken husband’s medical use. With legalization, there would be less stigma and no more need for unintended grief for those who need the drug. It’s good to have a bit more sensibility in the current world where more and more things seem to stop making sense as the days go by.

Well, hopefully with legalization and taxation, there will be a growth in industry and government revenue across Canada. This will also hurt gangs and the illegal drug trade since one of their cash crops has now effectively become public domain. And with the wide availability and the proper monitoring by the government, hopefully people would not have any need to find and experiment with stronger drugs. If anything, I expect Canada to become more of an attraction to our southern neighbors. I remember occasionally finding young American crossing the border on their past their 18th birthday in order to legally drink alcohol, party in bars, visit strip clubs, and take advantage of the relatively low Canadian currency. If cities and the government play their cards right, we might just become North America’s Netherlands.

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More on Kavanaugh, the #Metoo Movement, and the eternal youth of white people

Kangaroo

The Judge Kavanaugh defense is a shameful farce on all fronts. First off, the preemptive strategy of selling him a great basketball coach and father to two daughters, surrounding him with young girls when they initially presented him was very suspect. They never did that for Judge Gorsuch. Also, it was very suspect that the Republicans had a signed testimony from 65 women who attests to Gorsuch’s good character in high school well-prepared prior to the allegations about him attempting to rape women ever surfaced. Why was there ever a need for such a document? Does Gorsuch have a similar document at the ready during his confirmation process?

The most common defense, which something Donald Trump has echoed, is that the women are liars, that they are confused or that they have an agenda. This is the oldest, most sexist defense of all. Tucker Carlson, in his most un-self-aware moment of television, even compared the whole unfolding fiasco to the Salem witch trials, to which, if I remember the play correctly, involved women being falsely accused and foregoing reason in favor of a moral panic. It is doubly ironic because at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t even want to investigate the women’s allegations. So no investigations… they are simply all liars, and the poor judge is a victim of hysteria and political assassination. The Salem witch trials seem more thorough in comparison.

But what’s more disturbing is the now growing defense of letting boys be boys. The judge was seventeen at the time (and his accuser was 15). Boys will always be aggressive, and men should never be judged for their actions as children. Forget that the action in question was attempted rape. And as time passes, it would seem to be a pattern of organized attempted rapes and sexual harassment. CNN, in an effort to be non-partisan, has been parading women defending the action of boys, poor boys who are merely acting on their hormones. Besides, what happened was more than 36 years ago. If it did happen, it was far too long ago, and the good judge has grown to be quite the upstanding citizen, so upstanding that he’s earned the nomination to be the next Supreme Court judge.  But let me count the ways on how awful this defense is.

  1. Minority children are often never afforded the same courtesy of being young and immature. They are more often prosecuted as adults and described as menacing. Look at what happened to Trayvon Martin. He was shot for walking in his neighborhood. He wasn’t attempting to rape anyone. And closer to Donald Trump, look at the Central Park Five which he campaigned to be sent to prison despite being proven innocent of gang rape. They were 15 at the time. Being young and innocent is often a white privilege. Minority children are treated as grown men way too soon while white men are treated as men way too late. Want proof? Look at Don. Jr. He’s a grown man with kids, but he’s often talked about like a bumbling teenager.
  2. Saying that boys will be boys, that these things happen, and that groping is as innocent as snapping bras for teenagers is basically admitting to the fact that the judge probably did what he was accused of doing. If so, that would make him a liar, wouldn’t it? A teenage boy who sexually harassed women and attempted to rape them in his “youthful innocence” is far from the straight-laced Christian he is selling himself as. Also, that would make him someone who lied in front of Congress. People get disqualified applying for jobs when they openly lie in front of their potential employers.
  3. It is never okay to attempt rape at any age. It is not a teachable moment. And when the judge’s supporters say that the #Metoo movement makes every man a target, it doesn’t. It makes every rapist a target. It makes everyone with sexual harassment or assault in their past a target. I don’t have any sexual harassment in my past whatsoever. I’m not intimidated by the #Metoo movement at all. I have not come close to what the judge is being accused of doing. I’m sure a lot of men have nothing to fear from it as well.
  4. Consent is key and it should be within context. The women accusing Kavanaugh say that they never gave consent especially as minors. I would hate to live in a world where a minor consenting to sexual relations is judged as valid as consent from a grown adult, especially in a setting as a high school party filled with drugs and alcohol. That’s a horrible setting to assign a legally-binding consent. Now, contrast this with the way Kavanaugh treated the relations between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, two consenting adults.
  5. The whole notion of restorative justice relies on the fact that the perpetrator of the crime admits to the crime and has reformed and is no longer a threat to society as a whole, making amends to those he/she has wronged in the process. When people say that the events took place long time ago and that the judge is now reformed, they ignore the fact that the judge has never admitted to anything. No confession, no apology, no restorative justice. How can there be justice when the very existence of a crime and yes, even victims, is simply denied? If anything, the whole fiasco reeks of a separate crime in itself, a cover-up.

What is interesting is that Kavanaugh recently admitted to being a virgin in high school in order to disprove the rape allegations. He is willing to say that he was a popular student and an athlete who never had a sexual encounter in high school rather than admit to being a tad too aggressive and admitting to mistakes. Instead of being weak and human, he chose to go to an even higher moral pedestal. Boys and girls, not only was he richer, smarter, and more popular than you, Jesus also loves him more. Of course, it is much, MUCH easier to admit to being a virgin in high school and taking on its stigma after so many years has passed, now that you have nothing much to lose from it. Compare that to admitting you were an attempted rape victim back then and taking on death threats.

I initially though that Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, but the events of the past few days had me rethinking my initial prediction. I could still be correct, but there is a growing possibility that he would not survive this and that he could very well lose his district judge position. Here’s hoping that he does lose everything. The world is a dumpster fire at the moment, which is why I still think he could still become a Supreme Court judge, but I really wish in a few days, there would be one less rapist in a position of power.

After all of this is over, what would leave a bad taste in my mouth is how allegations of sexual misconduct is still treated pretty much the way it was in the past, even after the #Metoo movement. It’s very reminiscent of Saudi Arabia, where the victim faces a tremendous hurdle for proving a crime has been committed after overcoming the sometimes impossible hurdle of admitting a crime has been committed, and even then, both the victim and the accused face consequences. There is still victim blaming… what was she wearing, why was she there, what time was it, what was she drinking, etc. Ignoring the fact that biggest factor in being raped is to be in the midst of a person who happens to be rapist. We still haven’t learned anything.

Ugh. As I said, the world is a dumpster fire, and it still must suck to be a woman sometimes.

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#MeToo and an Idiot with Clean Hands

Odd Feeling

About a month ago, a prominent progressive politician in Korea was accused of raping his assistant in at least four incidents. This rocked the country’s left wing base since Ahn Hee-Jung is quite the popular figure and was even being groomed to be the next president after Moon Jae-In. The accuser claimed that she couldn’t refuse his advances and was in fear. Ahn however, claimed that the relationship between the two was consensual. Despite only being accused, the damage was already done. Ahn was removed from his position. It is very unlikely that he could resurrect his political career. Some people on the left however, despite being early proponents of the #MeToo movement are now starting to question the whole thing, thinking that some accusers weren’t really raped. Perhaps they were paid off by political opponents? Perhaps they were expecting a payoff in the end? Why did it take so long for many of the country’s accusers to come forward? The latest high profile celebrity brought down by the #MeToo movement in the country had accusers calling back to incidents ten years ago. People are wondering if these women are truly acting honestly, and whether they truly have clean hands.

The doctrine of clean hands state that those looking for equity must have equity as well. An accuser must have no unethical agenda and should act in bad faith. The defendant has the burden of proof to prove that the accuser is not acting with clean hands. The onus is not on the accuser to prove that they are acting with clean hands.

Absent of prior investigations, legal judgments, or evidence contrary to the fact, I tend to side with rape accusers automatically simply because it is difficult to prove  that it happened or not, and despite this difficulty, an accuser would be willing to stake his/her reputation in the name of justice. I think this is truer in a country like South Korea where the stigma of being a rape victim would have more lasting and deeper consequences than it would on the west. Being a spinster or a divorcee still has negative connotations in the country. I could only imagine the burden of being a known rape victim.

With the Ahn case, many suspect the accuser of acting on bad faith simply because it happened four times and she “allowed” it to happen. I believe this is a case of blaming the victim. It is simply arrogant to think claim that a person would act differently should they be in the same circumstances, not knowing all of the circumstances at all. We were not the victim. We were not in her head. Also, as Ahn’s supporters, the onus is on them to prove that the accuser was acting on faith, and not the accuser.  And I have to say there is hypocrisy in them saying that the accuser was not being sincere, when I suspect they wouldn’t be so willing to attack accusers if they were claiming foul play by members of the opposite party. This makes their distrust of the accuser politically motivated. They are not acting with clean hands.

In this scenario, absent of evidence, I believe there are two possible realities with two camps in each. One reality is where the accuser is telling the truth. To believe her would be a marriage of two goods: an accuser with clean hands and supporters of victims believing them with no motivation whatsoever other than justice. To not believe the accuser when she is telling the truth would either be blindness or just an act of political tribalism.

The other reality is where the accuser is lying. She has been paid by Ahn’s political opponents. And those who innocently and truly believe her, regardless of whether they are in the same side as Ahn or not, are fools. They are idiots easily manipulated by the #MeToo movement.  Those who do not believe her when she is lying look wise to be critical of what seems to be falsehoods. However, they also risk crucifying a victim for their “wisdom” and preventing others from coming out.

The people who do not believe Ahn’s accuser, absent of evidence, are hoping that they are wise enough to see through the accuser’s lies, and that they are indeed lies. I would rather believe the accuser and risk being a naïve idiot, a naïve idiot with clean hands.

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On Vigilantes

Snake_bones

Late to the party, but I just learned about Justin Payne’s vigilante channel exposing pedophiles in Toronto. As much as I enjoyed Chris Hansen’s work over ten years ago, I have to be honest that a part of the joy is watching someone get totally humiliated. It’s not so much for the pursuit of justice anymore, but getting high off the humiliation of another human being. Maybe that’s just me, but I suspect that’s what most people watching the show are there for. Chris Hansen for one sure likes to take his sweet time and humiliate perps in front of the camera.

Despite this, I’m a fan of what Justin does. But I’m afraid that he might eventually get hurt or that doing this type of work is just going to permanently damage his psyche. It can’t be healthy talking to several sexual predators all the time, subjecting yourself to their attempts at grooming you. Also, as someone who studied the law, I’m afraid that a lot of what Justin and similar vigilantes do wouldn’t result in criminal charges. They’re often focused on proving mental state which is often the most lurid part that attracts most viewers. But the problem is that they’re not really proving actual criminal conduct. Unfortunately, a crime cannot be committed if they prevented a crime from happening; there is no body. There were (thankfully) no real minors involved, and often no one gets hurt. If anything, these vigilante actions would initially expose the vigilantes to criminal charges or civil damages due to unlawfully taping phone calls, broadcasting without permission, incitement to imminent lawless action, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. I believe this and the fact that some vigilantes entrap their targets are the reasons why most of the people caught by the To Catch a Predator stings were let go.

But this doesn’t take away the fact that people like Justin Payne and these vigilantes are quite courageous for exposing themselves to a number of dangers. They are doing a great service in discouraging pedophiles from preying on minors. I really don’t blame them for taking action, especially if it’s happening in their neighborhoods. It’s sad that some of these potential predator’s lives might end up getting ruined in the process, but it’s even sadder to think what might have happened should they end up meeting real minors instead. It reminds me of Bill Zeller’s suicide note. In any case, I just wish these vigilantes’ approach we geared more toward rehabilitation. After all, the perpetrators’ urges could be considered a mental condition. But on how that could be accomplished, I have no idea.

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Oh Korean Internets!

Assiniboine

As much as I love that Korea has the fastest and most ubiquitous Internet access in the world, it is ironic how so much of Korea is doing the Internet wrong. Let me illustrate that with my past experience with ordering stuff through Amazon to be sent to the country.

First off, for some odd regulation, Amazon cannot send anything to Korea that are not books, DVDs, or CDs. Already, that sours the experience. Then a few years back, it became a new regulation for people to have a Uni-Pass ID to be able to order anything from Amazon. So I went and tried to get a Uni-Pass ID.

First off, in order to get a Uni-Pass ID or certificate, I have to register as a receiver of goods through customs. Now, one would assume that this would be foreigner-friendly and would have English on the custom’s Website. It doesn’t. Everything is in Korean. Not only that, I have to download and install a security software in order to go forward.

Registering my name, address and postal code proved to be a minor challenge. Seoul has recently changed its postal code system as well as its address system. This is something that mystifies even the Korean population as many don’t even know their own address under the current system.

I manage to successfully register at customs, but NO, I still don’t have my Uni-Pass ID. That’s another application I have to go through. One would assume that the only reason a person would register at customs was to get the ID, but I guess that would be too simple and obvious. In any case, I had to download another security program in order apply for my ID. Like the first program, this one didn’t have English, but worse, the Korean text on the menus won’t even show up properly on a machine running English Windows. I had to get help from a coworker who’s familiar with it.

Everything went well, including authenticating my phone and my carrier information, until BAM! It won’t let me get any further. I repeated the process a couple more times and still it won’t let me go further. And then I realized I was using Google Chrome. Korea is still very much wedded to Internet Explorer in 2017, including Active-X, so I had to repeat the process using Internet Explorer and then it finally worked. I got my ID.

Went to Amazon, ordered my books, and hopefully it will arrive soon. Hopefully! Some foreigners report that despite going through the whole process, their packages end up getting stuck at the postal office. When they call and inquire about it, the postal service workers ask them for their alien card number, something which all foreigners have here. Now, if that’s all that they needed, why make people go through the whole Uni-Pass process?! It’s just another system of which they can track my activities which the government already does with my passport and alien card number. What’s the point of all of this?!

The Korean Internet experience is great if you’re not doing any transactions with Korean sites or institutions. If you are, get ready to install a bunch of software you don’t need, do your business using Internet Explorer, and have an hour or two handy. It’s the most ironic situation for a country that’s so hip to the whole Internet.

Oh and if you ever want pornography, use a VPN to access sites. The Korean government has hired Christian watchdog groups to police Internet content, making many sites inaccessible without a VPN. Ironically, this means only members of these Christian watchdog groups ever get to enjoy pornography freely (and an unhealthy amount of it, if that’s what they’ve been tasked to devote their time on).

Update: If you want to modify or distribute modified games, you could face fines of up to $50,000 in South Korea. I guess this is to cut down on massive cheating on online games, which I would argue there are worse problems out there that needs legislators’ attention. If anything, I think this is just to protect the integrity of e-sports and companies profiting off of e-sports, because really, how is anyone supposed to police this? And what kind of legislator sits there and wonders about modifying games? That’s a big leap from stodgy legislators raging over violence in video games.

If I happen to modify an old copy of Super Mario, will that get me fined and how are they supposed to catch me? And what about say those Jamma carts with pre-loaded games? A lot of those have, by definition, unlicensed modified games. Are those technically illegal now? And what about trainer programs that aren’t really designed for online use? Again, pretty dumb Internet in South Korea.

 

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Hello Clara Grace

daughter

My sister gave birth to a wonderful baby girl yesterday, my niece Clara Grace Bain, who inherited my mom’s name. My sister is such a trooper. She went to work throughout the pregnancy, went on maternity leave, in less than a week had a baby, then is now ready to go back home within a day. I mentioned this to my wife, and such a thing is just unheard of in Korea. My Korean sister-in-law should be having a baby soon as well. She plans to spend a considerable amount of time in a recovery facility after delivery. Of course as a man who doesn’t plan to have children and will never experience the pain and joy of childbirth, I don’t think I’m in any place to make any evaluation, but I can’t help but inexplicably feel a tad proud of how my sister’s delivery went.

My friend’s artwork got stolen the other day. There’s concrete evidence that show that it was an old woman that she’s acquainted with. She plans to file a police report, but I told her not to. I just told her to talk to the art thief, let her know that if she doesn’t return the work and leave my friend and her friends from then on, she would file a police report. My friend however is concerned that the thief would not admit the crime and this would escalate into more abuse or dangerous behavior in the future. I’m guessing my friend is more familiar with this person and the danger this thief poses to herself and to others, but I’m just worried that this will ruin a person at the end of her years. Her children and grandchildren will learn that grandma is a thief. It’s like the origin story of a crazy bag lady.

I’ve met the art thief before. She was very friendly and quite unassuming. But from what little time I spent with her, no alarm bells rang. She didn’t really pique my interest either. I’m not saying that she’s a boring person, but hearing that she’s an “art thief” just made her a tad more interesting. It’s just one of those classier-sounding crimes.

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You’re losing me, online news.

Tommy_Douglas

Here’s to Tommy Douglas, a great Canadian hero. Because of him, Canadians’ taxes actually go to healthcare instead of just meaningless wars.

I no longer get my news anywhere but online, but seriously, these news sites that aggregate news stories need to get away from the click-bait and the ideology-driven model, otherwise they won’t last as long. I have a very rough relationship with The Huffington Post. The Daily Beast and Salon have already lost me. Now and then, Breitbart.com would have a story worth reading, but most of the site is ideologically driven garbage. There were fears in the west that Aljazeera would mostly be pro-Islam, pro-Palestine propaganda, but ironically, they’ve been pretty unbiased with the materials they publish online, definitely better than CNN.com.

Let’s look at Salon.com. Now I consider myself a feminist, but they’re “new feminist” agenda is getting ridiculous. An inordinate amount of stories are bent to become feminist related articles even on issues that aren’t or shouldn’t be seen from a feminist standpoint. Just recently, the singer Kesha accused her long-time producer of sexual harassment. She signed an exclusive contract with him and Sony and is thus obligated to work with him and produce six more albums. Her producer claims the allegations are just a ploy for her to get out of her contract. Now, I would give her the benefit of the doubt if she didn’t deny any rape allegations herself back in 2011. A simple Google search would provide that information, but instead, Salon.com ran article after article of Sony “forcing” the singer to work with her producer.

Kesha filed for an injunction against her producer and Sony, but the judge in the case, not seeing any evidence of sexual abuse, rejected her claim. Unfortunately, the judge inartfully worded the judgment, saying that it was “my instinct to do the commercially reasonable thing.” Instead of saying that, she should’ve said that contracts cannot be annulled based solely on allegations. There was no evidence of sexual misconduct, and the burden of proof for sexual harassment is already lower than most crimes. If the judge allowed the injunction, it would have set the precedent for women to just make allegations in order to get out of what were normally binding agreements.

This was not a feminist issue. It wasn’t people ignoring the pleas of victims of sexual crimes. It was the law acting as it should, basing decisions on evidence and not on ideology. For the media like Salon.com to treat this as an example of miscarriage of justice not only betrays their role as journalists, but it also does a disservice to real feminism. Not to mention, it also tars the name and damages the livelihood of those who are accused of sexual allegations without any solid evidence. This was not the first time Salon.com and other online news outlets did this either. The same thing happened with Mattress Girl.

We really should listen and be more sympathetic to victims of abuse, but our sympathies should not cloud evidence or the lack thereof. Look at the Steven Avery case. He’s not the most sympathetic character if you look at his police record and his past behavior prior to getting incarcerated for rape the first time. But it’s exactly the sympathy for the rape victim and the hatred for Steven Avery that cost him eighteen years of his life the first time around. Forget the evidence. Let’s incarcerate the town villain! Then there’s OJ Simpson, some would argue that the social and political climate at the time convinced some members of the population to be on his side, regardless of the evidence of his guilt. (Of course, truly believing that the accused committed a crime versus believing that the case against the accused was proven beyond any reasonable doubt are two different things.)

But then again, this was Salon.com, the same Web site that argued that Magneto, a Jewish comic book super villain, should be black in order to reflect current racial tensions. Because you know, slow news day, so everyone decides to play lawyer and indict a man for sexual crimes on the press.

 

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Killing (Mostly) Women in Song

bird

They’re a tad misogynistic (and a wonder that rabid feminists haven’t attacked them yet), but I’ve always been fascinated by murder ballads. It’s almost akin to the Aboriginal traditional of passing their culture and tradition through storytelling. Only in the case of murder ballads, it’s immortalizing a tragic event through song. What fascinates me is that while tribute songs will often reference an event, either directly or indirectly, murder ballads will use what many might argue are morbid details of an event and put them into song.

Two of my favorites are Tom Waits’ version of “The Twa Sisters,” which I believe was an old English tune, around the 1700s…

…and the murder of “Poor Ellen Smith,” here sung by the Kossoy Sisters. Apparently, the song was based on a real case back in the 19th century. It would have been forgotten had it not been put into song. My favorite banjo player, Frank Proffitt, did a cover of the song as well. But here he sings another murder ballad.

Again, Rose Connolly was probably based on an old Irish case. But if you didn’t know that, you’d assume Frank Proffitt just made a confession into a song, or he just fantasized about murdering a women, to which everyone in the room applauds to.

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Talking About Rape Badly

brother

Congratulations on graduating, Emma Sulkowicz! Now, can we stop tormenting someone who was exonerated?

Now, there is one thing for standing against misogyny, but there is also harassment. There is also, bullying. And while Emma’s story is one of a girl standing up against her rapist and the institution that won’t allow for justice, there is also the story of Paul Nungesser, the accused rapist, someone who has been bullied and labeled a “rapist” despite there being zero proof other than accusations. She has a very compelling story of rape. But an interesting story is just that, an interesting story.

Then there are the text messages. Emma and Paul had a consensual, casual, sexual relationship prior to the “rape” incident. This amiable relationship continued for a couple of months after the incident. There are Facebook messages that show Emma initiating contact with Paul several times in a friendly manner. These are messages that she herself has corroborated. She offered to provide deeper context to the messages, but has since retracted that offer. As far as I can tell from the media, there’s also no evidence or eyewitness testimony of her changing attitudes after the incident as well.

Being friendly to your attacker does not prove he’s innocent. It doesn’t prove he’s guilty either. In fact, it does not prove anything. All it does is place doubt to claims of rape. And aside from the messages, is there any other evidence that would prove the claim? Mathematically alone it doesn’t look good for Emma. There is one evidence that suggests Paul’s innocence, zero for guilt.

The university didn’t find her claims credible. The NYPD didn’t think there was enough evidence to press charges. That should have been it. While not ideal, that’s roughly how the way justice in the country should work. Someone makes an accusation, authorities determine whether there’s enough evidence for a case, if there’s none, the accused is then exonerated.  The accuser should not be allowed to harass the exonerated party.

Worse, the media should not crucify the exonerated by publicizing the story and insinuating that he got away with sexual assault. The New York Times, Salon, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, the Nation… so many news outlets dug into the story for all of its scandalous bits. They often fail to mention that the accused was exonerated. Perhaps Paul was indeed guilty, and perhaps the university should have done a much better job at investigating the case, but a public flogging is not justice.  We don’t hang people without a trial nor use scarlet letters (yes, there is irony here, but Emma chose to carry her scarlet letter, Paul was given his).

What’s ironic is some people supporting Emma is quick to judge the veracity of her story due to the media they consume and will be equally dismissive of the outlets that would counter her claims. “Who could believe Nungesser when he runs to the Daily Beast?” Of course, this is also a current symptom of people only following news outlets that reinforce their ideology, but saying something like, “who would believe him, his story is from breitbart.com?” is just as dismissive and as close-minded as something a “patriarchal misogynist” would say when countering rape stories. How about examining the counter-arguments regardless of the messenger? (to an extent)

Shame on the university art professor as well for allowing Emma to stage her harassment under the guise of performance art! There is neither art here, nor justice. What little art there was is overshadowed by the possibility of inflicting lifelong torture to someone who was exonerated. Hurting reputations and destroying lives is not art. And as for justice, Emma is not exactly acting with clean hands. I don’t want to underestimate the impact of the “rape victim” label, but for Emma, what other names come with that label aside from what I assume are glowing marks on her art project? Artist? Activist? Feminist hero? I’m not saying that she is not truly a victim, nor am I saying that she made up the whole thing for an art project, but would she be in the zeitgeist if she never lugged around that mattress? This wouldn’t be the first time an artist, in lieu of a lack of talent, would front a cause for publicity.

If Paul was a cynic, instead of hiding, he should’ve countered with a different performance piece, one that highlights the plight of the innocent accused. Just look at the Innocence Project. Doesn’t its mere existence suggest that we as a society have a tendency to rush to judgment regardless the costs?

The friendly Facebook messages and the long period before reporting the incident are countered by Emma’s supporters with a defense that I wholeheartedly agree with, there are no perfect victims. Yes, there are none. While I was never a victim rape (sexual assault and harassment, yes), I have many friends who were, and none of them went to the police. Some stayed in denial, some dealt with it years later, while some don’t even realize they were raped. It takes a lot of courage to immediately report an incident. But the victim’s courage should not overshadow justice for the accused. Accusers should not be immediately given the benefit of the doubt simply because they overcame something tremendous. The justice system still gives benefit of the doubt to the accused, otherwise’ we would be living in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible.’ The goal is to be somewhere in the middle of the two parties, where both the accuser and the accused have equal opportunities.

Feminism is a good thing. We as a society should be doing more to fight for the rights of women. I also believe that incidents of sexual assault are underreported. There should be more support for victims regardless of gender. What troubles me is this new wave of feminism and the surge of “social justice warriors” who overreact to certain social issues or approach them in a manner that is counter to the general good. Feminism is neither a twisted form of egalitarianism (equality of outcome as opposed to equality of opportunity) nor misandry, but you would be confused if you looked at the Internet. The same way newly-converted and superficial feminists are muddying the meaning of the word, so does Emma Sulkowicz harms the feminist movement. Her narrative does not strengthen and support female victims of rape; it introduces more doubts to their claims.

And while people often have no idea of how to talk about rape, lugging a mattress around and crying victim is not the way to go about it either.

Update:

Apparently, she now released a videotape that if you watch with intent counter to hers makes you equivalent to participating in her “rape.”

If she hasn’t lost you before, she should lose you by now.

First off, by releasing something on the Internet, by the very nature of the Internet and of the act, you are giving the public consent to do whatever they want with that information. This skewers the very definition of consent. When celebrities’ phones were hacked and their images were leaked online, viewing the stolen images contributed to their victimhood. They didn’t have any control over very personal images. But when someone “leaks” a sextape, ala Farrah Abraham, then there’s no victimhood. The release of the sextape serves to benefit the ones on video. There is consent, there is benefit. Emma Sulkowicz stands to benefit from the release of her sextape. It’ll keep her in the limelight (thanks to Salon and Huffington Post), feminists will continue parading her as a hero, and she will gain some art cred for whatever its worth.

What bothers me most is that as an artist, you do not control the dialogue. You do not dictate to the viewer that they are wrong for seeing your art one way instead of another. It’s the first lesson: art is subjective. Alot of great works from classical masters are pornographic in nature, but we see them as higher art. And now, to tell viewers that they are viewing a piece wrongly, and worse, that they are essentially rapists by proxy is not art. It’s activism at its worst. It’s what I notice some feminists these days have succumbed to instead of meaningful dialogue. If you don’t agree to their sentiments 100%, which can range from reasonable feminist issues that I myself agree with to frantic misandry, then you are contributing to their oppression.

I refuse to look at the video, but luckily, there have been other news sites that have looked into it and made images or gifs of it. I refuse to contribute more clicks. But let me address some of the questions on her preface:

Searching:

Are you searching for proof? Proof of what? I am not searching for anything. In fact, when I first heard about this story, I wanted desperately to believe Emma and looked for evidence to support her claims. I found none but accusations.
Are you searching for ways to either hurt or help me? Not really. But is anyone helping the accused? No one is perpetuating the stigma of a “rape victim” to Emma more than Emma herself. And in perpetuating that label, she also perpetuates the label of “rapist” to the accused who was exonerated.
What are you looking for? I’m looking for an end to this drama. Sadly, I don’t think it’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Desiring:

Do you desire pleasure? Not from this. I honestly get my sexual kicks from something else.
Do you desire revulsion? Is this to counteract your unconscious enjoyment? See above.
What do you want from this experience? I really don’t want to experience this. But I can tell you want people to either feel guilty for clickbaiting or simply being curious. You put content out there that is designed to titilate and then accuse people of rape by being titilated. This does not help real victims. This does not help the anti-slutshaming fight.

Me:

How well do you think you know me? Have we ever met? This is a dumb counterargument to anything. Think about it. Don’t you think this can be applied to any situation?

Do you think I’m the perfect victim or the world’s worst victim? A victim has not been established yet. If anything, Paul Nungesser appears to be a victim in this case.

Do you refuse to see me as either a human being or a victim? If so, why? Is it to deny me agency and thus further victimize me? If so, what do you think of the fact that you owe your ability to do so to me, since I’m the one who took a risk and made myself vulnerable in the first place? No one has been denied agencies. No one. The school and the police looked at the case. Emma Sulkowicz had the agency to complain anytime after the incident. She had the agency to drag Paul Nungesser’s name in the mud. No one is stopping her from doing anything, including releasing a sextape.

Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me? I don’t hate Emma Sulkowicz. I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed at the art professors and the art critics that see any of this as art. I’m annoyed at people cynically using “art” as a shield for anything other than art, in this case, a cry for attention and a tool to persecute Paul Nungesser. I’m annoyed at Internet news Websites continuing to use this story as clickbait. I’m annoyed at lazy feminists that don’t examine this issue, believe Emma Sulkowicz without batting an see, and not see how this case is truly counter to their cause. I’m annoyed at people who forget that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Emma Sulkowicz says that she’s infuriated with the name “Mattress Girl” and wants to go beyond that point. Releasing a sex video referencing rape is not the way to go about it. This is almost trolling for attention. And really, if “Mattress Girl” is infuriating, how infuriating is it compared to the label “rapist?”

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Perils of French Realism

nude

After years of holding on to my old iPhone 4, I finally upgraded to an iPhone 6. I had the option to get the iPhone 6S but found it a little too big to be called a phone. It seemed more like a tablet and I feel like the bigger a phone gets, the more unwieldy it is, and the likelier I am to drop it.

I’m quite happy with the upgrade. It’s big enough to be able to read pdfs of magazines and comic books. I was quite an avid comic reader when I was younger, and this might get me back to reading graphic novels again. The screen is gorgeous, and pictures and artwork look great on it.

Unfortunately, last Friday, I was admiring the phone and testing it out on the bus. I happen to be looking at some historic paintings to set as my wallpaper, browsing through masterpieces with heavy contrasts, works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, then BOOM!… Gustave Courbet. For the uninitiated, Courbet was a French realist, most known for a particularly unorthodox and intimate portrait of Joanna Hifferman entitled, L’Origine du Monde. I will let you find that painting yourself.

Now stumbling on the masterpiece wouldn’t be so bad in itself. Unfortunately, a lady standing next to me saw the image as quickly as it appeared on my phone. Our eyes met for a moment by the reflection on the window. And as innocent an accident as it was, I felt as if I was caught committing a crime. She looked away, and I quickly put the phone in my coat pocket. That’s enough art browsing for now. What am I to do? I can’t explain myself to a stranger. That would make me appear more guilty. Of course, quickly hiding my phone makes me look guilty as well.

Two stops later, she gets off. I just gave that woman a story to tell her friends.

 

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