The Voting Rights Act Is a Mess, but We Still Need It
The Supreme Court ruled today that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which said that some (mostly Southern) states and communities in the US had to ask the federal government for permission to change their voting rules and procedures, was unconstitutional. The majority of the court held that while the South used to be hella racist back in the 60s, things are now way more chill, thanks in part to the VRA, so the law doesn’t need to exist in its current form. Right-wingers celebrated this as a victory for federalsim (or whatever), while the MSNBC crowd mourned this as the destruction of one of the most important laws of the Civil Rights era—an NAACP official said, “Today will be remembered as a step backwards in the march towards equal rights.”
Now, I don’t think that every single person who opposes Section 4 is a racist. I know it’s not fun being called a racist. When I was in sixth grade, I was accused of being a Nazi because I was making a picture of B.J. Blazkowicz, the hero from Wolfenstein 3D, busting a cap in a Nazi’s ass. To portray this accurately, I had to draw the Nazi’s swastika armband, and according to some of my classmates, this made me Nazi. My teachers, fortunately, didn’t take any of this seriously because at 12 I looked like a rabbi in a Tazmanian Devil T-shirt. The following week, another kid wore highwaters to school and that took the heat off me.
You know what’s worse than being accused of racism, though? Having racism directed at you, which is something that happens in the United States fairly frequently. There were 2,924 racially-motivated hate crimes in 2011, the most recent year statistics are available for, and there was an actual lynching of an African-American in Texas as recently as 1998.
More statistics: According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 84 percent of white Americans approved of interracial marriage. But, framed another way, 16 percent of whites disapprove of interracial marriage. You can slice off part of the population, like Mississippians. Another survey, this one from Public Policy Polling, found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans, unbelievably, think that whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry blacks. That is some old-timey racism, of the sort that isn’t that uncommon in Mississippi—which is the whole reason the VRA exists in the first place.
Cry-Baby of the Week
The incident: A woman’s boyfriend wouldn’t stop singing the song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore.
The appropriate response: Finding a boyfriend who is less lame.
The actual response: She attacked him.
Last Saturday, Samantha Malson (pictured above) spent the evening out drinking with her boyfriend Lars, to celebrate his 26th birthday.
According to Samantha, they’d spent a lot of the evening arguing because Lars had accused her of “consuming all the alcohol in the house.”
At some point during the evening, Lars put on “Thrift Shop” (ugh, this just sounds like the worst birthday ever).
In a statement to police, Samantha said that, once the song was over, Lars continued to sing the lyrics “over and over” and that she asked him to stop “25 times.”
Enraged, Samantha started to shove Lars, but he still wouldn’t stop singing the song. So she grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him (wait, now it’s the worst birthday ever).
This is when Samantha decided to call the police. Which is weird, because she was the one commiting a crime. I can only assume that she was calling the police to tell them that Lars wouldn’t stop singing “Thrift Shop”? Oh dear.
Unsurprisingly, they came and arrested her. And she was charged with domestic violence and harassment.
Measure B Is a Pain in the Dick
Let’s not bullshit ourselves, condoms flat out suck—both in one’s private life and in pornos. They’re uncomfortable boner-ruiners and girls are always trying to put holes in them to get my babies. In porn, from a fan’s perspective, it’s just not stimulating to see a plastic bag going in and out of a girl’s mouth/butthole. I understand the need for them, but I just don’t like them and I am thankful I’m married and no longer forced to use them. Recently, a law was passed in Los Angeles that is so preposterous it could send porn stars and porn industry people to jail if they don’t use condoms, dental dams, and all sorts of other forms of safe sex in their films. The law is called Measure B (or Measure Bullshit to the folks who will be pummeled by its iron fist).
Measure B, which is really just a witch hunt and a means to run pornographers out of LA County, was proposed by the well-financed AIDS Healthcare Foundation President, Michael Weinstein. The language on the ballot was so deceptive it led voters to believe it was a law to protect the performers in the porn industry. The reality is that Measure B calls for pornographers to purchase health permits and it opens their shoots up to random inspections from the Health Department to make sure they are complying with the law. This goes for everyone, even the lowly cam girls who are in the safety of their own homes doing solo shows to help put themselves through college.
Many of my friends are both up in arms and fearful of what is to come. Director Kimberly Kane, who you know from my recent episodes of Skinema and her VICE magazine feature on Zak Smith and Mandy Morbid, is now a criminal under Measure B. She was uncharacteristically speechless when I asked her for a quote about the law. She didn’t know what to say for days. She finally told me, “Technically they’ll penalize you for breaking the law even if you’re married and performing with your spouse without a condom. Everything I do now is illegal without a permit, a condom, and probably someone on set from the Heath Department making sure that everything is up to code. I don’t know what we’re going to do. They say it’s a First Amendment violation and it could be litigation for a long time. But no one knows. Everyone is very worried. Measure B basically runs us out of town on a moral stance. They say Vegas or Nevada is an option [for relocating the industry]…”
MAKING IT A PAIN IN THE ASS TO VOTE IS THE AMERICAN WAY
Why can’t we be more like the Russians? They can vote in their fucking swim suits.
It’s hard to understand polls. Where do they get their numbers from and why are they so different? They often vary drastically from one pollster to the next, with one having Obama ahead by four percent and another having Romney up nine, all within the same state. Some polling companies are noticeably biased, others claim objectivity, and still others are clandestinely partisan. The numbers swing so frequently that anybody paying attention is sure to develop a case of the spins.
The polls take on different formats to try and glean likely outcomes for the election. Popular methods include randomized phone calls at different times of day, generally to landlines (but increasingly to cell phones). The biggest difference-maker is who and when they poll—even the littlest disparity between one poll and another could swing their results in drastically different directions. Think Dr. Malcolm’s explanation of the butterfly effect in Jurassic Park:
“A butterfly could flap its wings in Peking and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.”
At the moment, it looks like Obama has the slightest lead in a number of crucial states, and it appears he might be able to gather the 270 Electoral votes he needs to retain office. But what happens if he doesn’t reach the mark? What happens if neither candidate automatically wins?
Welcome to another bizarre caveat brought to you by the Electoral College. According to the 12thAmendment, if no candidate receives a majority of the Electoral vote, the case goes in front of the House of Representatives. Each state delegation receives a single vote, meaning that although California has 53 representatives and North Dakota has one, both states would effectively have a single vote to cast. If each state was a person, this could be considered straightforward democracy. But since each state has wildly disproportionate numbers of people living in them, it boils down to less individual representation than already given to us by the Electoral College.
But wait, there’s more. This is where it gets even weirder. Not to be left out, the Senate is responsible for choosing the vice president, with each senator receiving a single vote to throw into the pot. Since there is an even number of states, it’s possible that the House could wind up deadlocked at 25-25, so if no president is elected by Inauguration Day, then the Senate-elected vice president acts as president until the issue is resolved.
Me Vs. “Me” - by Kate Carraway
I’ve never had an abortion, but I’ve been to a few. They are or are not a big deal depending on a few things, like, how much religious or sexual dogma was absorbed before the age of majority, or whenever a girl double-middle-fingered her origin story and peeled the fuck out of there. It also probably depends on how bloodily nightmarish said dogma was, and on whether you believe that abortion is murder but an OK kind of murder or an almost nonthing or whatever. But I don’t actually know anything about abortions, and I don’t want to, because it’s probably not much different from but probably worse than touching my eyeball, and I hate that.
It doesn’t matter, but it does necessarily exclude me from a subset of my feminist sistren [spits] who are very into their I Had an Abortion T-shirts, and the ways in which their collectivized experience gives other people the squigglies, which is all fine—totally fine—and I do all of that all the time about having been raped: all code words behind whisper fingers with other girls who know. When you have an essential interest because you chose it or were born into it, or because something happened to you that was like a rushing wave of surgical knives, you will want to be somehow among your similars, getting empathically inebriated. (Twitter is a good place to see this play out without self-consciousness.)