07 June 2015

Michelle Duggar's transphobia and stranger danger

The latest trending scandal in American popular culture involves the Duggars, the large family behind the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting. This is because the Duggars' eldest son Josh, now 27, was revealed to have molested some of his younger sisters when he was 14. He confessed to his actions to his parents multiple times in 2002, who waited until late 2003 to report Josh's behavior to the police. Before that, the Duggar parents sent Josh to the Basic Life Principles Training Center, a Christian-based clinic, for treatment.

I'm writing not to rehash all the nasty details about the Basic Life Principles Training Center or the police officer who gave Josh a "stern talk" that have been already discussed in depth elsewhere. Rather, the political activism of the Duggar family show an interesting intersection between anti-LGBT discrimination and social science.

What's been revealed about Josh shines a rather hypocritical light on the Duggar family's political advocacy with regards to sex and the law.

As a Republican US Senate candidate in 2002 (who lost in the primary) for the seat that would be won by Democrat Mark Pryor, Jim Bob Duggar (then a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives) ran on a platform that included advocating the death penalty for rape or incest. And you could not make this up: As state representative in Arkansas, Jim Bob Duggar was vice chair of the Corrections and Criminal Law Subcommittee. So Jim Bob is not only a coward but a hypocrite: a man whose "tough on crime" standards expire within his own family. He can't ruin his political or media opportunities, after all!

Jim Bob's wife Michelle also partook in some political activism of her own last year. A resident of neighboring Tontitown, she recorded a robocall for voters in Fayetteville (home of the University of Arkansas), opposing a ballot initiative that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in the city's public accommodations. Michelle Duggar stated in her robocall:
I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.
Slightly off-topic: Do political robocalls reach cell phone users, not just landlines? In my nearly 9 years having the same cell number, I have never had a political campaign call my cell number, not even leave a voicemail. But I recall plenty of times when my landline (which was disconnected around 2010, 2011 maybe) got political campaign voicemails. The Fayetteville anti-discrimination ordinance was repealed in the ballot box. No doubt in my mind that Michelle Duggar's hateful, frightening robocall reached plenty of older, more conservative voters who voted to repeal, since younger, more socially progressive voters are less likely to even have a landline phone at all (gotta be as likely the case in Fayetteville, Ark. as it is in the San Francisco Bay Area).

Fast forward to today. Michelle Duggar, about a decade after knowing that her daughters were abused by their own older brother, had (and still has) the gall to accuse transgender people of being child molesters? That's so appalling that even Megyn Kelly of Fox News (not exactly an LGBT-friendly TV network) had to ask Michelle Duggar in her "exclusive" with Jim Bob and Michelle: “How could you unfairly… compare transgender people to child molesters, suggest they are child molesters, knowing what you know about Josh?”

The myth that ending transgender discrimination will lead to male child molesters dressing up as women in order to prey on girls is not only bigoted but based on the "stranger danger" myth: "According to numbers provided by the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, the vast majority of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know -- most often a family member, an adult the family trusts or, in some instances, another child." And Michelle Duggar had very evidence of this fact in her own home! (But given her fundamentalist Christianity, she's probably a creationist too, I doubt she's well-informed about the scientific method at all.)  When her daughters were molested, the perpetrator was their own older brother, not the mythological cross-dressing male adult child predator. The anti-transgender "bathroom/locker room argument" uses the same slippery slope logical fallacy as Rick Santorum's infamous "man on child, man on dog" argument against same-sex marriage. (And can you believe there are people in this country who want Santorum as president? Sure, I have issues with Obama, but Santorum as president? I'd rather live in China where political dissent like in my blog is censored, than in America with a homophobic theocrat as president.)

Oh, Josh Duggar himself. Until he resigned after his past molestations were publicized, Josh Duggar was executive director of FRC Action, the political action committee of the Family Research Council. So Duggar - a heterosexual Christian who admittedly molested children - advocated for an organization whose president Tony Perkins has asserted there is "a correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia." Which is complete pseudoscientific hokum.

A child abuse investigator in Illinois who blogs as QuadCityPat also has some insights as to what could have happened if Josh Duggar's parents promptly reported their son's behavior to law enforcement:

Jim Bob and Michelle talked about being devastated when they found out.  The did send Josh away for a while, but paid no mind to the trauma their daughters experienced.  If this had been handled properly at the time Josh and his sisters would have been sent to specialized treatment for offenders and victims. 


Since the Duggar's failed all of their children miserably, here's what should be happening now.  If this case was in Illinois, there would be a hotline report on Josh's own children for Risk of Sexual Abuse.  This is taken when an offender has access and it is unknown if he has completed treatment and or an evaluation determining that he is at low or no risk to reoffend.  

...Jim Bob and Michelle still allow Josh to be around his siblings who are still minors, so a report of risk would be taken on  them too.  If Josh sees an evaluator who determines him to be low risk, the reports would be unfounded. If not he would be indicated (founded) as would the elder Duggars and the family would be ordered into counseling.
Thankfully, Americans aren't buying into the junk science peddled by the anti-gay industry's snake oil sellers like Josh Duggar, Tony Perkins, Peter LaBarbera, etc. anymore. Josh Duggar "repented" for being a child molester by working for an organization that tars LGBT's as child molesters. Michelle Duggar took out her grief  by projecting her son's misdeeds on a group of people she tarred as sexual deviants. The Duggars made their fortune selling themselves as an exceptionally large but still Cleaver-like family. But now that their image has been revealed to be the result of a decade-long cover-up, it is time for the Duggars' gravy train to end. The parents put their quest for fame over the welfare of their daughters. If there is a God, TLC would disassociate from these hucksters now.

05 June 2015

E-40's Warriors remix of "Choices" and the state of hip hop today

Warning: Some mature content follows. Reader discretion is advised.

So I recently discovered E-40's Golden State Warriors version of "Choices".

Which make me want to rant about the state of hip hop today. I thought things would've changed after people got tired of the crunk/snap music garbage of my junior high/high school years (2003-2009), by whose tail's end the influence of corporate media like MTV and BET gave way to online media (MySpace, HipHopDX, YouTube...) where young people could be exposed to higher quality music of present and past. Look at the mainstream success of newer, quality artists like Macklemore, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole, and veterans Kanye West and Jay-Z continuing to put out music done with care, not hype in mind. But now, it seems that something like 85-90% of songs that get most hype on YouTube or FM radio have this formula:

Beat: DJ Mustard style minimalist beat with drum machine, "hey hey" chants, and the same 3-4 synth chords.

Lyrics: Recycling the same crap from last decade about partying, sexual fantasies, dealing drugs, hustling-for-money-because-I-was-deprived-as-a-child, etc. themes. OK, even "real hip hop" like Notorious BIG or Mobb Deep rapped about that stuff. But at least they put *creativity* in producing their songs (which I'll go over next).

Flow: On one hand, I like how E-40 rewrote his song to pay tribute to the Warriors. On the other, the flow here lacks the punch of his classics like "1-Luv" or "Rapper's Ball" and instead turns to the lazy "talk-n-chant" flow of a song like Big Tymers' "Oh Yeah". At least when DMX rapped in "Ruff Ryders' Anthem", the song works as well without the "what?" at the end of every line because the lyrics have a varied # of syllables/pace per line.

And expanding on a point made earlier. There's a reason why I'll say, when discussing music, that a song like "Trap Queen" is trash while a song like "Survival of the Fittest" by Mobb Deep is art. Compare & contrast the lyrics, first to "Trap Queen":

Seen your pretty ass soon as you came in that door
I just wanna chill, got a sack for us to roll
Married to the money, introduced her to my stove
Showed her how to whip it, now she remixin' for low
She my trap queen, let her hit the bando
We be countin' up, watch how far them bands go
We just set a goal, talkin' matchin' Lambos

Vs. "Survival of the Fittest":

You shook cause ain't no such things as halfway crooks
They never around when the beef cooks in my part of town
It's similar to Vietnam
Now we all grown up and old, and beyond the cop's control
They better have the riot gear ready
Tryin' to bag me and get rocked steady
By the mac one-double, I touch you
And leave you with not much to go home wit'

And the artistry is far different: Fetty Wap sings his song with that dreaded vocal effect, Auto-Tune. Didn't Jay-Z declare "Death to Auto-Tune" back in 2009? Regarding "Trap Queen": Every line has the same structure, same number of syllables. In contrast, Mobb Deep (a duo) vary their flow: some long lines, a short line, another long line, then a series of slightly shorter lines, all while keeping to the beat!

Speaking of beats, "Trap Queen" has, like "Choices", the typical dumbed-down beat of commercial rap, with the drum machine and recycled synth sounds. In contrast, "Survival of the Fittest" doesn't condescend to the listener, as the percussion sounds like real drums (even if created with a drum machine most likely), and the beat has a variety of instrumentation (keyboard, with the occasional brass), which put together with the lyrics grab the listener's attention.

Geez, how bad can things get? Well, "Throw Sum Mo" by Rae Sremmurd featuring Nicki Minaj and Young Thug is basically a melody-less, Auto-Tune-polluted strip club anthem, obviously for teenagers stuck at home at night because they can't legally go to the clubs (and grown-ups too cheap to pay the cover charge).

"Hot N****a" by Bobby Shmurda - this ain't music either, just throwing around "N-word this, B-word that, selling crack there, insert sexually explicit reference elsewhere" to appeal to his brain-dead fans' base instincts. Oh, by buying his music, you're supporting a guy who is "charged with conspiracy to commit murder, multiple weapons possession, and reckless endangerment as part of a 15-person, 69-count indictment that included his brother Javese and fellow GS9 label-mate Rowdy Rebel."

I could go on, but I think I've said my peace.

You want a "party"/upbeat rap song that at least maintains musical integrity and does the crazy thing,  respecting women? Try:
And for "minimalist" music with softer beats AND TALENT:
Look. You can call me an old man yapping from his rocking chair all you want. But if you want to know why "rap music" is associated with hypersexuality, crime, and low quality, I think I've made my case.