c.e. taillefer

September 15, 2016

Where the Devil Don’t Go: Preacher, Season 1 (Part 3)

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(Part 1 and Part 2)

Aka Angel-Demon Baby Daddies and The Bad Stuff.

I left talking about Deblanc and Fiore till the very end for a few reasons – to give more people time to catch up (have you watched Preacher yet? HAVE YOU?) and because I love them so obviously, I saved the best for last.  In the comics, Deblanc and Fiore are barely there cardboard standouts that exist to provide some more jokers for Jesse to beat up in his search for God.  They come to Earth to look for Genesis, but give up fairly early on in favour of the pleasures of doing cocaine and masturbating. Oh, Garth Ennis, you wacky scamp.

Beware the spoilers for all of Season 1 below, as well as a trigger warning for discussions on suicide & racism.

Read more ››

July 8, 2016

Police Brutality and You: A Primer for Brantford Citizens

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Bit of a rough post today, but one that I hope will be helpful.  This is gathered together from the tips at this fantastic post on Ravishly, “What you can do right now about Police Brutality” (and my hat is off to Lora for sharing the Ravishly post today.)

  • Educate yourself on your city’s police conduct review process.

The City’s page for Complaints and Concerns about the Brantford Police Service states that “The Brantford Police Service views the complaint process as a means of maintaining public accountability, correcting police misconduct, and improving police services to the community.”  Complaints must be made within six months of the incident, so there is a time limit.  You can choose to speak with someone in person (the informal complaint process) at the BPS office, on 344 Elgin St., Brantford, ON, or

file a complaint online through the Office of the Independent Police Review Director – this is considered the formal complaint process, although there are alternative modes of resolution offered, including mediation.  The IPRD is a civilian lawyer who formerly served on the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and Executive Director of Legal Aid Manitoba.    The website includes an online form, accessible PDFs of both the form, and the pamphlet on how to make a complaint.  However, it is noted on the investigations page: “If, during the course of the investigation, the Director discovers evidence that an officer may have committed a crime, the matter will be referred to the police for further investigation.”  Kind of a problem, no?

In Ontario, there are also the Special Investigations Unit, and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission that offer independent, civilian investigative bodies for police conduct.  The entire text of the BPS complaints by-law is online, but highlights the gaps wherein all decisions tend to be made first by the Police Board, including the decision to bring a complaint to the OCPC.  The Brantford Police are represented by the Brantford Police Association in contract negotiations. (Unfortunately, the link wasn’t working today, so I can’t confirm the information found there on their roles in conduct review processes.)

There are some definite gaps and ambiguities in this process that should be clarified and detailed, with civilian input and oversight.

  • Pressure your mayor and city council to address gaps in this process.

The Brantford Police Services Board appears to meet monthly outside of the summer season, and you can find details, including times and locations on the City Calendar.  Unfortunately for those working day jobs, they are all in the afternoons on weekdays.  Worse, the link to Agendas and Minutes from previous meetings is dead, which I’ve emailed them to correct, and you can find the archived minutes searching the BPS website. City Council meets on a biweekly basis and is another place to bring up issues of police oversight in the city.  The aforementioned site includes contact information for the City Council clerk if you wish to submit agenda items. There’s also an  RSS Feed Link that lets you subscribe to any of the public committee meetings.

The Brantford City Mayor is Chris Friel, and you can find out who your ward councillors are on the City’s website. This map will show you what ward you live in, if you’re not sure. Oluo states in the Ravishly essay, “Don’t just ask once. Ask and follow up regularly.”  Ask what you can do to contribute to the processes that shape community services, outreach and policing.

  • Vote for reform-minded city government.

“Make police reform a requirement for your vote.”  Elections are held on a four-year cycle in our city.  The last city elections were in 2014.  This gives us two years to make this issue important to people running for elected offices.  Judges are not elected at the municipal level, and the next provincial election is not until 2018, so in the meantime, we should probably focus on the government we have and putting pressure on them to adapt.

  • Write to your representatives.

Our MP for Brantford is Phil McColeman (CON).  You can write him at:

Email: phil.mccoleman@parl.gc.ca

Constituency Office
Summer Hours – July & August -Monday-Thursday 8:30am-4:00pm Friday 8:30am-1:00pm
108 St. George Street, Suite #3
Brantford, ON  N3R 1V6
t: 519-754-4300
f: 519-751-8177
Ottawa Office
The Valour Building, Rm 850

Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6
t: 613-992-3118
f: 613-992-6382

Our MPP is Dave Levac, and you can contact him at:

Queen’s Park
Room 180, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A2
Tel 416-325-6261
Fax 416-325-6358
Constituency
Suite 101
96 Nelson Street
Brantford, Ontario N3T 2N1
Tel  519-759-0361
Fax  519-759-6439
dlevac.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

  • Know your right to record police encounters.

Despite filming police encounters being entirely legal (and brutality being captured on film doesn’t appear to affect sentencing of cops who murder), it may be that an officer will try to confiscate your recording device.  There are a number of apps available now that allow users to film discreetly, or uploads to the cloud as it records, preventing someone from erasing the data.  Copblock has a huge list of these kinds of apps; while some are US-related specifically, like PocketJustice, many are region-free.

  • Support legal defense funds and activism groups.

I’ve mentioned this on Facebook, because #BLMTO not wanting to sell their shirts to allies has been kind of a “thing”, but don’t ask what you think they want you to do – ask them what they need. As allies, it’s important our desire to do good (and be seen doing it) doesn’t do more harm than anything else.  The community knows what it needs – they even had a list of demands ready to present at Pride.  Follow them on Twitter, or Facebook and see what kinds of requests for aid they’re making – and do that!

There’s also Disarm Toronto Police, and “Affected Families of Police Homicide” (no known website, but affiliated with #BLMTO) for semi-local activist movements.  Many students at Laurier Brantford’s campus are motivated, passionate people with a desire for social justice and change, and there are always groups needing support there during the school year.  First Nations peoples are particularly vulnerable to police abuses, as the #MMIW movement has revealed the complicity of federal, provincial and municipal forces in the death and assault of aboriginal men and women. Both Turtle Island News and the Two-Row Times are good places to keep your eyes and ears peeled for news of activist groups, or people in need of legal defense funds.

This post barely scratches the surface of what we, as allies, can do.  But it’s a start – and I hope with some of the research legwork done laid out in one spot, people will be encouraged to get out, agitate for reform and ask for strong statements from our city leaders and police services that condemn racist police actions, and express their committment to ending police brutality and abuses. Things have to change. We can’t let our brothers and sisters live like this any longer. They’ve made their demands clear.  Will we stand with them?

June 28, 2013

Sorry Not Sorry 3: I Play Animal Crossing

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Okay, this is kind of a cheater entry into the SNS series because in terms of problematic content, Animal Crossing: New Leaf has very few, barring the lack of customization for skin colour. (And many other writers than me have already tackled it.)

But being absorbed so thoroughly into a game (I’ve logged 131 hours since June 9th!) has left me a mostly-unresponsive meat envelope, intent on getting that perfect fruit, or completing that furniture set, or getting as many bells as I can to stuff into Tom Nook’s greedy pockets – which can be a problem.  I described ACNL to someone as “easy to learn, but difficult to master”. Mastery, unlike a lot of other games, doesn’t come so much from skill, but from time invested.  Many of the projects you want to complete only occur in real time – if you want to upgrade your house, work isn’t complete till the next day.  If you finish paying off a public works project, it won’t be built till the next day. Everything happens in real-time in the game, unlike other sim games where time is accelerated.

I missed a date with Flurry and that makes me the Worst Mayor.

I missed a date with Flurry and that makes me the Worst Mayor.

It’s also like a very slow-paced MMO – your town gates can be opened so your friends can visit, look around your town, shop the wares on Main Street, trample your flowers and scare your villagers.  Alternately, they can open their town gates, and you can go visit them.  You can trade furniture with one another, send letters to them or their townspeople, or have really intense conversations:

This dude knows the way to my heart.

This dude knows the way to my heart.

Hans, let's lay around and read comics all day.

Hans, let’s lay around and read comics all day.

H-hans-senpai...

H-hans-senpai…

This I think is the killer crux of the game – the possibilities are pretty much limitless.  No matter if you’ve maxed out your house expansions – you can always change the exterior, or completely redo a room.  Clothing designs in the shops seem blah? Design your own! Share them online.  Keep talking to your villagers to unlock new projects to build, and shopping at your stores to expand their wares and selection.  Holidays and festivals have special events and items.  Try and get horrible villagers to move, or keep ones you like in your town forever.  Save all the bells and get achievements and rewards.  Try and max out your bug collection, or your fish one.   Collect (genuine) art for your museum.

Same.

Same.

Alternately, if you’re not a perfectionst with an addictive personality, Animal Crossing is a great game to pick up and play for a few minutes a day. Of course, if you’re susceptible to emotional manipulation, your villagers tend to get sad about your lack of presence, and your town gets covered in weeds.  But there’s nothing stopping you from just playing the turnip market once a week, or checking now and then to water your flowers and check your mail.

Plus who could forget this video?

So yeah, I play animal crossing.  And I’m only sorry because sometimes I have to push Gary off my stomach so I can catch a rare golden stag.  I’m sorry little buddy.

Gary: "Same, weird frog guy."

Gary: “Same, weird frog guy.”

February 25, 2013

Satire Punches Down. Again.

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Look, no one thought Seth MacFarlane hosting the Oscars was going to be good. Oscar hosting is rarely ever good. Putting MacFarlane onstage in a suit is the Oscar equivalent of the youth pastor bringing in electric guitars because “kids like that stuff, right?” In other words, the Academy is full of out of touch, old white dudes and it shows.

You’d think with how much of the bit was scripted that someone would have blown the whistle on paedophilia jokes, or maybe domestic violence jokes. But that’s given out of touch old white dudes a bit too much credit for even remotely being aware of, let alone caring about the problems in making “jokes” like those. Dana at Slate puts an optimistic spin on the night as “defensive anxiety” about the loss of privilege, and she’s right in a way, but that doesn’t negate the fact that people up on stage in front of an audience of millions have zero compunction about airing those anxieties in ways that continue to hurt the people below them.

The crap cherry on the shit sundae was MacFarlane’s implied – and then the Onion’s overt – joke about Quvenzhané Wallis being a c*nt. The sheer amount of bile lodged in your gut to even think about making a statement like that on a public stage must be astounding. Saying it’s reprehensible because she’s a child implies, some people argue, that it’ll be okay when she’s a little older, but I think this is where the whole idea of feminism focusing on sexualisation versus sexism is rearing its head again, a little. By making the conversation about sexualisation, set up as the enemy of morality and family values – just like reproductive and LGBT rights are – we end up feeding back into the patriarchal systems that ‘family values’ represents, with the added bonus of coddling misogyists feelings, because attacking sexism attacks them – sexualisation however is just a problem in society, you know, out there. It also negates the idea that there can ever be something like sex positivity. Sexualisation uplifts only so much as men find value in your sexuality, and then is used to shut you back down again. Within the context of viewing sexism as sexualisation, women find it more and more difficult to find worth in their own sexuality – you’re either a whore, a sell-out to raunch culture, or you’re an uptight prude (but secretly valued).

A corollary: this article about a parent finding a censored version of Game of Thrones, where much of the sexual content has been removed, so they could watch with their daughter.  If you have the stomach to read the comments, most of them criticize the writer for being squeamish about sex, but not about violence.  Very few speak up about the fact that nearly every sex scene in the entire show to date is non-consensual, and therefore, acts of violence in themselves.  Viewing it as sexualisation (ie: scenes to titillate) is setting up the writer as the Upholder of Family Values and the opposition as enlightened, pro-sexuality, though very little about Game of Thrones sex is actually about sex at all. The author even clarifies with an update that the reason he would let his daughter watch a sex-edited, but not violence-edited version of GoT is because someone getting an axe to the head is unequivocally denounced by society, whereas coercion and rape are still very much “grey areas” for pretty much anyone living in a rape culture.

All of this is pretty much a round-about way to say it’s easy to see why grown-ass men feel they can get away with calling a pre-teen black girl a c*nt – it’s a knotty racist mess tied up with the concept of culture as sexualised and not sexist. It’s wrong because she’s a child, yes, but it’s wrong because she’s black too. It’s wrong because she’s a girl in a society that doesn’t value its girls and women.  It’s the same conflation of ugly humanity that led people to divebomb Amandla Stenberg for having the audacity to be black and play a black character. They’re both seen as powerless in so many ways: young, women, black.  It’s utter bullshit and yet people get away with it – I’d wager that racism has undergone a softening of terms as well, couching it under something like racialization? – the same way sexism has.  Remember, it’s JUST AS BAD, if not worse, to call someone a racist or a sexist.

Don’t let language get in the way of calling sexism what it is.  Don’t hesitate to let the Onion know exactly how you feel.  If men are feeling defensively anxious about the loss of their space at the top of the food chain, press the attack and push them down.  Dare I say it, use the power of satire to pull the rugs out from these motherfuckers and let them fall flat on their face.  Satire punches – don’t let them punch us down.

ETA: The Onion makes their apology.