“The big breakthrough will come…when we are able to handle the truth about people.” Van Jones

“The big breakthrough will come…when we are able to handle the truth about people.”

-Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod and me, NYTimes op-ed
Van’s entire piece is worth reading about what it feels like to be caught in Washington DC doing politics in real-time right now via the web.
I’ve been exploring the process what it means to be “Private” (aka yourself) in Public for some time now. It’s what solo performer, comedians, performance artists and many performers do. When it’s chosen an you provide the context it can be very powerful. Of course the latest political episode is particular poignant because Shirley Sherrod spoke in public on behaviour of her government employer but apparently of her own choosing and gave plenty of context which made her story about race and class understanding really powerful. And it’s that context which was taken away by Breitbart’s selective editing and the ensuing political playout of anxious reactions.
And I still believe that it is this act that makes the world safe for you as I said during my 20009 SXSW panel Everything I Need to Know About the Web I Learned From Feminism. But the always brilliant and challenging danah boyd noted that it’s a privilege to be yourself in public. And of course people behave differently in different publics.
The “public” of the media and the blogosphere and political DC are all different. Of course our political “public” is theoretically supposed to be the place in which we solve common problems but this kind of judgemental-ness and harsh manipulation which serves political and media business ends isn’t always in the interests of our common good.
This rend is an old media and political one. It’s not new. The fact that the real-time web is speeding it up is a little bit new. What will be new and is necessary is what Van Jones mentions: not the truth about how people are or what they’ve said but when we can handle it.
An individual matures when they can handle difference. It’s called differentiation ( “the ability to separate one’s own intellectual and emotional functioning from that of the family”). An individual heals from depression or trauma when they get to a point when they feel they can handle their feelings. Our body politic and publics seem to me to operate just like a person.  And I think Van is right, the key word is handle.

As an individual you can’t control the world, you can only get better at feeling you can handle it and the change and challenges it presents you with. It’s the same thing for the media and our politics. And sometimes you have to bottom out before you are motivated to change. And it looks like our politics are heading there.

The Net provides a place to attack each other better and I wager it’s connectedness (and our real-life connectedness with each other and our selves) could also help us get better at handling once we decide that’s what we need to work on.

Fun video link: danah boyd’s comments on how gendered behaviour plays out in social networks (thx @allaboutgeorge)

Posted via email from subvert with heather gold

Why, oh why can’t I? Video of a beautiful moment in song pre-Prop8 trial.

Melanie DeMore sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow early morning Jan 11th before the start of the Prop 8 Trial in San Francisco. 
I love the gentle threading of Judy Garland into this hopeful moment. She was a social force in connecting the GLBT community. Some say heartache after her funeral emboldened the harassed to fight back that night when the Stonewall Riots happened the next day giving birth to the movement that has led to this trial. 

This trial is being led by Ted Olson, a lawyer with impeccable conservative credentials. The man who helped put George Bush in office. A man who had his own tragedy when his wife died in the 9/11 attacks. 

This story has quite an arc.

Thanks for the song Melanie. I’m happy to feel the melancholy and the community and the hope of the moment. Yes, “why oh why can’t I?” 

(via Elyse Singer, Michael Winn)

Posted via email from subvert with heather gold

heather + Lt Dan Choi at Meet in the Middle in Fresno

It was a thrill to meet Lt Dan who is a powerful speaker and person. He actually saluted me when we said goodbye, then apologized and explained that it was out of habit.

If you somehow don’t already know, he is a West Point grad who’s completed 2 tours of duty in Iraq. He’s about to be discharged under Don’t Asked Don’t Tell even though he’s an Arabic linguist. He’s one of the few people in the military who could actually ask or tell people in Iraq anything.

It was literally 100 degrees. That explains the hair.

What No on 8 should have looked like

17 year old James testifies to Vermont Senate on LGBT Equality.

He nails the second class citizenship issue. Nails it. Please excuse my choice of words.

But forget al the abstract crap about civil unions etc. Here is the point: Are we equal or are we inferior?

This is how we need to campaign in California and across the country. And we need to have lots of

meals with other people and talk about it honestly.

Dear Mike Huckabee, you’re redefining the word “Christian”

My response to Huckabee’s appearance on The Daily Show, below. I want a conversation and a world and certainly a legal system without pretendery. Come on Huckabee let’s have a real conversation. I’ll meet you anywhere.

Day Without a Gay

This grotesque juxtaposition of robustly funded propaganda vs. cash-strapped social services is the perverse, inexcusable legacy of Proposition Hate and the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and every related money-wasting act of gay-hostile social, political and emotional terrorism wrought by the American Taliban.

If you have ever used words like “sacred institution” or “redefine marriage” or “threat to family values” without irony or—worse yet—harbored thoughts or cast votes against marriage equality, you are not my friend. You are not welcome in my life. I honestly see you as intellectually compromised. And I don’t care what you think your god tells you to believe. Your mythology does not trump my reality. And if you try to defend your indefensible thoughts or words or actions to me, be prepared to have your vile, repellant opinions reduced to the vile, repellant garbage that they are.

And when I’m done with you, the domestic partner and I will calmly go back to caring for Thomas and working to repair the decades of damage caused by the celebrated heterosexuals who are apparently free to marry and divorce and have affairs and abuse and ignore their own children without generating interest a single constitutional amendment, television ad, campaign platform or even a godfuckingdamned T-shirt by the godfuckingdamned American Taliban.

 

Read all of Jake’s brilliant post to know the story of he, his partner and Thomas on his blog NoFo. 

Then do something on the streets or online. And if you’re gay, tell your story. Spell out your relationship and the indignities and legal vulnerabilities you’ve faced. In detail. Mine soon.

 

Canadians Gone Wild: My brother explains why Canada isn’t sure who it’s leader is right now

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper was re-elected with a minority government about a month ago. But he might lose his job any day now. He’s managed, like George W Bush, to unite everyone else against him. At least that’s my understanding after my brother explained it to me. Canada’s politics has started to sound like a dramatic nerd reality show, with a special guest role starring President-elect Obama. The whole thing is crazy, which is why I was about the 8th person to ask my political wonk brother to explain it all to me in one of Canada’s two official languages. I’m posting the answer so that other confused Canadians and bemused onlookers can get benefit. This way, Jordy doesn’t have to explain it again.

Heads up for non-Canadians: In Canada the Liberals are the name of a political party and the Conservatives believe in national health care.

Here’s the button-down versionwith reporting and stuff from Canada’s best paper.