Tag: missing the point

Tips For Avoiding Unpleasantness

Mayim Bialik has offered her tips for avoiding sexual harassment and exploitation. This would be like me offering tips to avoid police brutality — be polite, be deferential, don’t make sudden moves, keep your hands visible. Or my tips for avoiding traffic stops in the first place – drive the speed limit, control your vehicle, signal before turns and lane changes. Not bad advice per se, but it completely ignores the fact that my skin tone and gender play a significant part in my success in achieving positive interactions with police officers (or avoiding the interactions to start with). Ignores that, in areas I frequent, police don’t encounter a lot of dangerous traffic stops.

The fact is, her real secret to avoiding harassment wasn’t her clothing or her mannerisms – it was her situation. As others have pointed out, sexual assault is about power. I didn’t wear demure clothing, I had a very open and solicitous personality, but I wasn’t harassed until I needed the job. You need the job to feed your kids or to keep your apartment, then casting directors have a lot of power over you. To start out with, even a lot of skeezy guys stay away from statutory situations. But ignoring age. Get into acting to earn rent money, to feed yourself … that’s a different scenario than Mayim. Get into acting for something to do – you can tell a guy he’s gross. Or refuse to continue the discussion at his hotel restaurant. Then his hotel room.

The Straw Man Argument

The players taking a knee during the anthem are protesting racial injustice in this country. They are protesting the fact that one’s skin tone is the difference between believing a police officer is going to save you and believing a police officer is going to literally kill you. How military personnel treat people in an occupied country is a salient discussion (see: Iraq) not only as an academic appeal to human decency but as a pragmatic approach to reducing risk to military personnel. How police treat people, yeah even people committing crimes, is similarly not just an appeal to decency. An officer engaging a citizen who fears for his life … this is an infinite loop like the arms race. Cop needs to be more aggressive to prevent violence from citizen. Citizen needs to be more aggressive in resistance to officer. And no one wins. Racial relations in general are a difficult discussion, and how to ensure reasonable treatment in situations with inequitable power distribution is exponentially more difficult. Protesters are saying there’s a problem in the country that needs to be addressed.

And we all know how Trump feels about difficult ‘stuff’ – avoid, deflect, avoid some more. Some people are partaking in peaceful protest at their workplace — that’s employment law and barely free speech. There’s a good bit of case law behind companies being allowed to prohibit free speech of employees (i.e. if I reflect poorly on my company, they can fire me). Sorry, but free speech does not ensure freedom from consequences. The government won’t stop you from marching in a Neo-Nazi rally … but your employer may fire you. Your neighbors may never speak to you again.

The president of the United States (a.k.a. ‘the government’) advocates private employers fire individuals over expressions that the company did not deem worthy of reprimand … this comes really close to actually infringing on an individual’s First Amendment rights where no such infraction previously existed.

It is a nationwide straw man debate, and now other sports players are using the same protest as a symbol of their support for first amendment rights. Glad people support the first amendment (especially when you see surveys where they ask if people support actual content of the bill of rights and not just “the third amendment” – hint: the bill of rights doesn’t poll well in details). But the discussion that was being sought – how to ensure police officers are adequately trained and incentivized to diffuse dangerous situations – has become obscured.

24/7 Campaign

How can you be the president of the entire country if you cannot even be the president for the entire military?

The address Trump gave at the commissioning of the USS Gerald Ford may reflect the increasingly long campaign cycle or it may reflect his complete misunderstanding of government (not to mention a complete misunderstanding of how military health care works!). He encouraged (ordered? Not speaking to intent; but as the ostensible head of the military, it would behoove him to use more care in selecting what will be communicated to military personnel) those assembled to “call those senators to make sure you get health care”.

A generous interpretation would be that he isn’t letting an opportunity to push for his legislative agenda pass by – this will be televised, reported … but who stands up at a guy’s retirement party to laud himself and ignore the retiree? Or at a commencement to congratulate yourself … oh, wait. That’d be Trump too. A man seemingly incapable of participating in an event and not making it about himself. Even the generous interpretation is essentially “I’m too self-centered to let your thing be the highlight here”.

But beyond the optics of using the commissioning of a naval vessel as a campaign rally, the ACA does not have a whole lot to do with health care for the active duty military personnel to whom he was ostensibly speaking. TRICARE covers them. It qualifies as insurance under the ACA, so they’re set. Given Trump’s other outright nonsensical ramblings on health care, this in and of itself is telling. Enlisted persons have no more need to lobby for whatever ACA replacement is currently on the table than members of Congress. It’s not going to fuck up their coverage.

Worse, though, the military may report to the president like employees report to the CEO … but it isn’t like we changed out the military for a Republican one in January. They may fight to defend the country, but they are not obligated to support the legislative initiatives of the current administration. From his speech at the CIA Memorial Wall bemoaning how unfairly the press treats him — imagine a similar topic being delivered in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall — to this most recent address, Trump seems ignorant of the fact there are liberal government employees and military staff. There are Libertarians. Red scare McCarthyism aside, there are probably socialists too. Point being — there were people in the audience who do not want either of the current Congressional health care plans to pass (given it’s approval rating, the majority of the crowd may even feel that way!) and how insulting is it that the speaker would co-opt what was meant to be a naval celebration to rally support for something to which you object?!