Apr 2013 23

by Brad Warner

Every once in a while I meet someone who says she became interested in Buddhism because Buddhists were never involved in religious persecution or holy wars. I always hate to break the news to them that this is, unfortunately, not entirely true.

It is true that Buddhism has been largely free of really large scale wars and persecutions based directly on religion such as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the conflicts in Israel and Northern Ireland and so on. In fact, if you go to Wikipedia’s page on religious persecutions and religious wars, you find no major persecutions by Buddhists, and the only religious war listed involving Buddhists is an uprising of the Buddhist majority in Vietnam against the pro-Catholic policies of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1966. Not exactly a war in which one religion sought to conquer or convert another by force.

But that doesn’t mean that just because someone declares him or herself to be Buddhist that the person is free from ever behaving like a dick. Brian Victoria caused a lot of people to question their belief in perpetually peaceful Buddhists when he published Zen At War, a book that examined how Buddhist institutions in Japan were co-opted by the government to support the cause of nationalistic violence during World War II – much like the Catholic church was similarly co-opted by the Nazis. Even today similar stuff keeps happening.

The latest of those who would try to use Buddhism as a way of promoting intolerance and violence on a national level is U Wirathu, an ultra-nationalist Buddhist monk in Burma who has been accused of inciting violence against Muslims in his country as leader of the “969 movement.” He has become known as the “Buddhist bin Laden” for his activities. In Sri Lanka, Sinhalese Buddhists have formed what they call the “Buddhist Strength Force,” another group seeking to persecute Muslims in the name of Buddhism. Just last week three Bhutanese Buddhist monks were accused of raping a teenage girl in India. You can read about all of these incidents in detail here. I’m sure this won’t be the last we’ll see of violence and stupidity in the name of Buddhism.

The easiest response to all of this would be to say that those involved weren’t really Buddhists, even if they were legitimately ordained since they failed to understand the most basic teachings of Buddhism. Some people have argued that certain verses in the Qur’an or the Bible can be used to justify violence and religious intolerance. But it would take a lot of work to find anything similar among the Buddhist literature, although the Buddhist sutras far outnumber the canonical religious writings of Christianity or Islam, so I’m sure someone could dig something out of there if they tried hard enough. There’s nothing I’m aware of but there are mountains of sutras out there and you could probably find some little snippet that sounds nasty if you wanted to sift though a lot of stuff.

Even so, none of the reports I’ve seen have mentioned any of these Buddhist bully-boy organizations citing the scriptures and teachings of Buddhism as a justification for their actions the way other religions often do. The closest thing I’ve come across to that is that the Sri Lankan group apparently opposes the Muslim practice of halal butchering and meat preparation as being against the Buddhist teachings of non-violence toward animals. But this seems to me like a real reach for some kind of scriptural justification. And I don’t see how you can enforce non-violence against animals by engaging in violence against humans.

Some folks were getting upset over the fact that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was not speaking out more strongly against the Buddhist based violence in Burma and Sri Lanka. However, this is actually a smart move on his part. Most Buddhists in Burma and Sri Lanka don’t regard the Dalai Lama as their leader. Far from it. They regard him something like the way Irish Protestants view the Pope, as kind of an interloper who has no business telling them about their religion. It would only incite more violence if the Dalai Lama took a strong stand.

Generally we Americans and Europeans don’t know much about Buddhism, so we make a lot of incorrect assumptions. This is excusable because all we have to go on is what we get from our woefully ill-informed mass media and cartoonish references in pop culture.

But interestingly it’s we Westerners who seem to grasp the basics of Buddhism enough to see the innate absurdity of stuff like the Buddhist persecutions in Sri Lanka and Burma better than lots of the folks in those countries. While I’m sure there are plenty of Burmese and Sri Lankan Buddhists who know how ridiculous this is, this stuff wouldn’t be happening at all unless there were also plenty of people in those countries who consider themselves Buddhists but really have no clue at all what the whole point of Buddhism is.

That’s pretty sad. But it’s no sadder than Christians murdering Muslims in their quest to spread Jesus’ philosophy of love or Muslims murdering Christians to spread Mohammed’s message of brotherhood. Religions divide people. And when Buddhism is viewed as a religion, it can be used almost effectively as any other as an excuse for viciousness and just plain human foolishness. You have to stretch things a bit, but it can be done. Human beings are good at that. We’ll find a way.

But the rest of us don’t have to accept it. We can and should point out how ridiculous this is. If we can shame the assholes persecuting others on the basis of Buddhism by knowing their religion better than they do, then we ought to do just that. Not in a malicious way, mind you. But it might be useful to subtly make some of the folks over there who are participating in this kind of nonsense aware that there are people far away who actually take “their” religion more seriously than they apparently do.

It’s disappointing to discover that even those proclaiming themselves to be Buddhists can still act like real jerks. But people are what they are. Acting like a jerk, however, is definitely not what the Buddha taught.


Mar 2013 20

by Blogbot

This Thursday’s show may be our dirtiest yet. SG Radio hosts Nicole Powers and Moxi Suicide will be discussing the filthy business of oil with investigative journalist Greg Palast and activist Ramsey Sprague, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade. We’ll be finding out why the Keystone XL pipeline is a really bad idea, even if cheap gas and more jobs are top of your priority list, and discovering how the Koch Bros will be benefiting from the construction of this environmental disaster of a project. We’ll also be crossing streams for this sleazy oil-based show with our friends from Red List Radio, and will be joined in-studio by RLR hosts Luke Harder and Corey Kozlowski.

You can listen – and watch – the world’s leading naked radio show live on Thursday nights from 6 til 8 PM at our new state-of-the-art all digital home:

You’ll also be able to listen to our podcasts via Stitcherdownload the app now!

If you have questions for the SG Radio crew or our guests, you can call in during the live broadcast at: 1-855-TRV-inLA (1-855-878-4652)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Mar 2013 02

by Asher Wolf

A while back I decided to interview @AnonyOps. We chat regularly. As a result, we quickly generated a huge stack of material.

We worked together in a consultative process to trim back the content. The result is true to the nature of the conversation we’ve held over a number of months.

This interview is the first time anyone has interviewed @AnonyOps about his decision to become Anonymous, his fear of persecution, the talent brain-drain and his decision to leave the U.S.

@AnonyOps: I don’t want talk about what country I’m in. Just that I’ve left. We can start the interview now if you want…

@Asher_Wolf: Can you tell me about your background, so people can image you behind the mask?

@AnonyOps: I sit in my mother’s basement and I write code all day. Well, all of that’s true — except the part about my mother’s basement.

I’m not going to hand over identifying information.

In my free time? I sit and stew about state powers and mass surveillance of innocent people, attempts at censorship and general tyranny. These things put gas in my tank.

@Asher_Wolf: Tell me about becoming Anonymous?

@AnonyOps: I had a set of common beliefs in line with others in Anonymous – which, looking back is a bit funny to think about, mostly because we’re not unanimous.

@Asher_Wolf: Did you know what you were getting into when you took up with the Guy Fawkes mask of Anonymous?

@AnonyOps: I was certainly filled with idealism and yes, I was naive.

But, yeah, remembering back to December 2010 – when I saw what happened to WikiLeaks (with the Mastercard, Visa and PayPal financial blockade) I was completely outraged. I wasn’t very optimistic at the start. I had a vision of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know if I would have any impact at all. I thought – I would probably just be seen as yet another idiot on Twitter.

@Asher_Wolf: You thought you were powerless?

@AnonyOps: Yes. But I was naive. A day or two after I joined Twitter, I live-tweeted a forum, the Personal Democracy Forum 2010.

When I started watching it being streamed online, and seeing what topics they covered – I knew I wanted to participate. So I tweeted, and after about a minute of tweeting at them, they mentioned me in their video feed

That was an interesting moment for me. It’s when I realized that this thing – this mask of Anonymous – could have power.

@Asher_Wolf: How did the public respond?

@AnonyOps: There was lots of retweeting going on immediately. It felt as if a light switch had been flicked on. I felt I had a platform with which to speak, possibly for the first time in my life. I broke my first 100 followers on Twitter that day.

[Note: @AnonyOps now has more than 200k followers]

It was amazing. Such a dinky number of Twitter followers in retrospect, but to have it happen so quickly was interesting.

Live-tweeting something being streamed live online is still my favorite Twitter experience. It’s a rush. It was a bigger rush than some of the hacking I did as a teenager.

And yes – I see it as hacking – hacking public dialog. Taking on the Anonymous character and costume was like hacking my way onto a panel discussion where I’d never have been invited to participate otherwise.

When they announced to the entire room and online conference forum: “Hey everyone! Anonymous is here!” and they were talking about me.

I thought “Now what? I have their attention! Shit, better think of something smart to say next.”

It drove home I really needed to have a message, a vision for what I wanted to do and say. I needed to hone and develop my purpose.

Within just over a year of becoming an Anon, I was invited to speak at Transmediale (a huge a Berlin-based festival exploring art, culture and technology) as a panelist via Skype – representing to some degree a face of Anonymous.

@Asher_Wolf: Did you worry about “not fitting in” with the rest of Anonymous, when you jumped in and became part of the “hive”?

@AnonyOps: Yes, I worried at first. I wasn’t sure I’d mesh well with the hive. I don’t consider myself a typical Anon. After time, I stopped caring about giving a shit about being “different”, and counted it a good trait.

@Asher_Wolf: Does it ever feel like you’re playing at being a superhero?

@AnonyOps: That’s exactly what it felt like – and it still does occasionally. I think Anonymous caught people’s eye. But I’m just a regular joe. Anyone can be an Anon. But doing it well… takes work.

@Asher_Wolf: Did you feel a sense of obligation, knowing the impact you can potentially have ?

@AnonyOps: Do I feel a sense of obligation: of course. But I’m not particularly involved as an activist in “meatspace.” I just care. I do pay attention to politics and I’m careful about what information I put out online, as I know it influences other activists. Giving a shit is half the battle, if not more.

@Asher_Wolf: Some political pundits have criticized Anonymous as anti-American at times?

@AnonyOps: I’m sure there are some anti-American elements. But sometimes it seems difficult to discern between those who are anti-American – and those who love America, but hate how the country is being run.

@Asher_Wolf: Do you still have hope for the U.S.?

@AnonyOps: Not necessarily hope for America as a concept, but hope – and perhaps faith – in the people. I don’t really consider myself nationalistic, but I care about my country, its constitution. I don’t hold the concept of country as more important than people or life itself. American exceptionalism is a curse upon the U.S.

@Asher_Wolf: How do you react to claims by media and government representatives hyping the potential of cyber terrorism, cyber war and Anonymous.

@AnonyOps: Cyber terrorism… it’s one of the things that made me think that perhaps the US wasn’t the place for me anymore. The US government is hungry for enemies, looking for any excuse to find that next danger to the public – “think of the children!!” I don’t want to be that enemy the US administration is looking for. For fuck’s sake – I was trying to fix America, not become public enemy Number One.

@Asher_Wolf: Did you fear the American government would prosecute you? That you would be jailed for hacking something or tweeting something?

@AnonyOps: Coupled with all the evidence about the FBI knowing about plots to kill leaders of Occupy and the violence inflicted by militarized police against peaceful war veterans protesting as part of the Occupy Movement? I didn’t think I’d be jailed for hacking anything, but for tweeting something, sure. I’ve seen it happen to friends. They were hit with amazingly flimsy “conspiracy” charges, or something they said triggered them to be raided – free speech, my ass.

@Asher_Wolf: Like Barrett Brown?

@AnonyOps: Yes, like Barrett. Granted, some of the things he said in video were pretty stupid, but I don’t believe he was planning on killing anyone. He’s looking at potentially landing in prison for 100 years for saying dumb things.

@Asher_Wolf: Anonymous has previously been described by a Fox News affiliate (as well as other commentators) as “domestic terrorists.” Did you ever, for a second, see yourself as a terrorist? And how did it feel to have media describe Anonymous, the movement you became one of many representatives by proxy, described as terrorists?

@AnonyOps: To be personally considered a terrorist was, for me, is the height of idiocy.

To love one’s country and to want to see it live up to the things it says it holds dear – just to be called a terrorist….it’s disheartening, eye-opening and really frustrating.

Sometimes I wonder if news organizations are following in the steps of “shock-jocks” – in that, I mean they’re simply stating things to get a rise out of people. Or that they’re just trolling us. Can they really be that stupid? It’s hard to tell sometimes…

@Asher_Wolf: How did you react to knowing you were being portrayed that way?

@AnonyOps: I just had to continue to fight on, knowing this sentiment isn’t in the majority. Or at least hope it isn’t. We have to fight harder against this stuff. Silence gives consent. You have to yell loudly at that kind of stupidity and not let journalists get away with it. Name and shame.

@Asher_Wolf: Did you feel a need to take special action to keep yourself and your family out of harm’s way since you began to publicly identify as Anonymous?

@AnonyOps: You hide, hope your online anonymity efforts have worked or you get the hell out of the country – which is what I did. I got the hell out.

I’ve known for quite some time that this is where things would end up. Anonymous has left the building, as it were. The idea of leaving occupied my life for about a year.

And being a refugee of sorts, it’s not all roses. I gave up so much; my home, family and friends.

But I’ve seen what my government does to outspoken people, to people who are “too effective” in their criticism.

Just look at Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown… people *are* being persecuted for trying to speak out against the regime.

I had to leave.

@Asher_Wolf: Did concern that you’d be charged with a crime relating to your involvement with Anonymous play into your decision to leave the U.S.?

@AnonyOps: Yes – mostly I feared they’d fake my involvement in something or try to entrap me, or hit me with some bullshit conspiracy charge.

I left for some of the same reasons Aaron Swartz “left.” I’m sick to death of where the US is going, about the impact it has on people’s lives. But exile was my choice of escape instead. I don’t have suicide in me and I didn’t want to end up in a jail cell.

But I’m so sick of dealing with the bullshit American “justice” system. Sick of seeing prosecutors throw the kitchen sink at people, hoping they’ll plead out so as to avoid, you know, actually going to trial and proving someone guilty. That’s not justice, it’s railroading. Kitchen sink justice is why I left.

I mean… they could still trap me, I’m sure, if they were so inclined, and I’m sure they would if i ever got *so good* at liberating information from their death grips. Perhaps then they might see fit to draw a box and put me in it. So I chose exile, instead

@Asher_Wolf: So this is essentially a form of political exile of sorts?

@AnonyOps: Political exile is better than being a political prisoner. I see how that’s worked out for others. Years in detention like Bradley Manning, Jeremy Hammond or holed up somewhere in Canada like Commander X.

@Asher_Wolf: Where did you decide to go ?

@AnonyOps: Just… away. Probably better not to name where I went. Just, somewhere safer. I think the idea was planted when I saw others leaving. Glen Greenwald left, and other talent has quietly slipped away from the U.S. for quite some time now.

There’s a brain drain, of political dissidents – America’s punishment for screwing with civil liberties.

With the NSA building massive domestic spying programs, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to leave: America – land of the surveilled, home of the logged.

@Asher_Wolf: What do you miss most since you left the US?

@AnonyOps: I miss… being able to hang out with friends and family. And I miss the really expensive health care! (Just kidding!)

@Asher_Wolf: Do you think you’ll ever return to the US?

@AnonyOps: Yes, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to the States. I just won’t be coming back with any electronic equipment.

But yeah, I’ve no illusions that I’m “in hiding” or out of view of the US government. However now if they want me, they have to expend quite a bit more resources to come get me, and have to deal with another government to do so.

@Asher_Wolf: Did you feel regret over leaving?

@AnonyOps: My only regret is leaving has become the choice that seems sanest right now. I regret… I regret that leaving seems like the best option right now. But it seems safer in some ways.

Of course… if the US government deems me an “enemy” or “enemy combatant”, they can easily drone-kill me now. I guess that’s a new danger that didn’t exist before. That’s harder for them to do in the states, but they’ve done it abroad

@Asher_Wolf: But you’re still an American citizen…?

@AnonyOps: The US government doesn’t seem to care about that pesky requirement. 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was also a U.S. citizen when he was killed by U.S. drone bomb in Yemen.

We need to stop thinking that there is one rule of law for some and another for us. Extrajudicial killing – the US government is literally murdering people. There is no “due process.”

The US has lost the concept of due process. In the US intellectuals, technologists and activists are targeted for harassment at borders: their property is taken, they’re put in “holding” for a long time. There are countless examples of Occupy protesters being singled out because of their involvement in the movement.

But there are countries that have shown that bankers can, in fact, be put in jail and that presidents aren’t immune to the scrutiny of the people, and will be held accountable. I want to live in places where justice isn’t just lip-service.

@Asher_Wolf: Do you worry about the message your decision to leave gives to other activists in the U.S.

@AnonyOps: No, not at all. I mean…. it may give them the message to leave as well – but that doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s a message activists need to hear and consider carefully at this point in U.S. history: from my perspective, it’s time to either leave or hide.


Journalist, information-activist, and commentator, Asher Wolf has been described as a “twitter journalist” by the Sydney Morning Herald, and “one of the key activists across the world in coordinating news and information relating to breaking the old information hegemony”, by Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge.

A prolific user of Twitter, Asher is a contributor to the New Matilda and a member of the Australian MEAA journalist’s union. She’s also the founder of the CryptoParty movement, with events promoting personal privacy and cryptography in over 60 locations around the world.

Boho feral, feminist and fascinated by the implications of all things machine and geek, Asher Wolf is tinkering at the crossroads of government transparency, personal privacy, journalism, social media, technology and activism.

For more from Ahser read her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Jan 2013 14

by Darrah Le Montre

On August 11/12th of last year, a 16-year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, was allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulted by members of Steubenville High School’s almighty Big Red Football team. When the story subsequently broke worldwide, it divided a small town and forced us to question the future of our men.

If you have already read details of this case, you may have also agonized through a video which was shot on the night in question and prominently features Michael Nodianos, an 18-year old Steubenville High School alum who played for the Big Red team. If not, allow me to offer a *trigger-warning* now before I outline some of the most pertinent details:

A self-described member of a group that call themselves the “Rape Crew,” Nodianos, or “Nodi” as his teammates call him, starred in an incriminating, vile smart phone video that was posted to YouTube on the night of the alleged assault, then taken down, then reposted to the web by KnightSec and Commander X, who are both affiliated with the Anonymous hacktivist hive. This video features “Nodi” – who clearly borders on sociopathic – maniacally laughing and apparently providing a play-by-play of the repeated gang rape of the 16-year old female victim. During the course of his commentary, he frequently refers to her as the “dead body.”

Events like this force people out of their copacetic, pacified state of separateness, and push us to admit we are all connected. Transgressions like these beg questions about social responsibility, technology’s role in our lives, who is teaching what to our children, what it means to be a father and mother, and why we are even debating whether unconscious means consensual.

If you are a woman, you may have been advised that if you are attacked and need help to scream “FIRE!” instead of “RAPE!” –– because people run from rape. People are overwhelmed, confused, scared and paralyzed by the idea and consequence of rape. So much so, that they often blame the victim. As a woman, it’s scary to read about a violent rapist that was sentenced to a few years in prison, then released. Or how, in many cases, trespassing, burglary, and hacking carry a longer prison term than a sexual assault. There is, what can be perceived as, sexual terrorism going on in the world, including in India and the United States, and we’re too scared to talk about it. But if we can’t talk about it, how can we prevent it, understand it, heal from it and help others who have suffered at the hands of it?

There was a time when domestic abuse cases were blamed on female victims. They somehow provoked the men into hitting them. That myth has, for the most part, been dispelled. It’s sad to me that “fault” or “blame” is placed upon women in rape cases still. It seems that whenever a battle of the sexes takes place –– especially when sex is involved –– we can expect immaturity at best, insanity at worst.

When small football towns like Steubenville exist for a long period of time inside a protected bubble, exalting a few to the detriment of others, it’s hard to know whom to blame when a crime like this is shown to the world. Given that youth are involved, and given that adults provided said youth with their foundation, ethics, morals and copious amounts of alcohol, many believe the parents are just as culpable as the boys and young men may be.

Staring Down The Demon: What Rape Culture Looks Like in Steubenvile

Two sixteen-year-old Big Red football players: Trent Mays, a sophomore quarterback, and Ma’lik Richmond, are so far the only boys to be charged with rape stemming from that evening of hard partying and barbarism. Mays is also facing a charge involving illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Previous kidnapping charges against the pair were mysteriously dropped, along with charges against Cody Saltsman. Many suggest this was part of a cover-up that was taking place prior to Anonymous stepping in.

Ex-boyfriend of the victim, Saltsman was present for part of the alleged assault. Furthermore, Anonymous believe he may have even been responsible for orchestrating the attack, which may have involved a date rape drug. Saltsman chivalrously live-tweeted about his ex-girlfriend’s condition, describing her limp body as “sloppy” and calling her a “whore.” He posted a shocking photo to his Instagram account that is now widely circulated of the victim being carried seemingly unconscious by her hands and feet by Richmond and possibly Mays. It is unverified whether the photo captures the teen in this case, or another possible victim of the “Rape Crew.” Web analyst and true crime blogger Alexandria Goddard published Saltsman’s tweets along with the photo to before Cody had the chance to delete the evidence. He subsequently filed a defamation suit against her that was later dropped. Richmond and Mays are scheduled to be tried February 13th in a juvenile court in Steubenville, however, a change of venue has been requested by Mays’s attorney, Alan Nemann.

Like his buddies, Mays also took to the internet the night of August 11th. Referring to one of the bashes that evening, Mays tweeted: “Huge party!!! Banger!!!!” His tweet was innocuous when compared to the more colorful ones penned by his friends. One such post leads prosecutors to believe the victim was urinated on after the alleged gang rape. At least one witness gave testimony indicating that this in fact happened. Aside from watching, laughing, tweeting, and snapping photos and video, these boys and men were otherwise action-less witnesses that evening. Nobody helped the girl escape from their teammates’ clutches that night.

The boys and men who attended the parties observed the atrocities and did nothing to stop them. To add insult to injury, they victimized the teen girl, and in the subsequent weeks have forced their families into shock, shame, and denial. According to the New York Times, which broke this story back in December 2012, “Richmond’s grandmother, Mae, said the charges surprised her because Ma’lik had been so focused on sports and school, with hopes of leaving Steubenville for a better life than that of his father, who has served time in prison and had been charged with many crimes including manslaughter. “Me and Coach Reno was talking, and he said Ma’lik was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. But since Nodianos’s damning video surfaced it’s impossible to shrug Ma’lik’s behavior off with such a cliché.

Now that the proverbial shit has hit the very real public fan, Michael “Nodi” Nodianos is sorry about the tape. He’s “ashamed” of his comments. He “regrets” them, his lawyer, Dennis McNamara reported in a statement released Monday. Especially given that Nodi lost his scholarship at Ohio State, where he planned to study engineering. According to Kent Patch, Kent State University has also said it is reviewing the scholarship of an incoming Steubenville High School football player who may have hosted one of the several parties at which the girl was allegedly raped.

Sources at Anonymous also suggest that the “Rape Crew” may be a clan of sexual criminals –– teens and young men who drug, rape and take photos and video of their victims –– that has existed in different incarnations, since 1975. Scarier still, is the adult protection these perpetrators may have received.

After The Agony: Now What?

KnightSec set up a page on LocalLeaks to keep the public up to date on emerging details of the case. This exhaustive resource called “The Steubenville Files” provides a timeline of the alleged events on and surrounding August 11-12th and background on those involved. It catalogs tips they’ve received from Steubenville High School students and others, as well as evidence they’ve ascertained via hacking.

In response to the LocalLeaks site, which has received massive amounts of traffic, the City of Steubenville and its Police Department launched their own website called Steubenville Facts. This sterile site, created to level the emotional intensity surrounding their town and the synonymous rape case, lists Ohio laws and doles out mental health resources. It also questionably links to Fox News’ coverage of its launch.

On Wednesday, Steubenville High School’s website homepage reported news of a security threat –– later found unviable –– that shut the school down for over an hour. It now features a media statement that says they’ve added “education programs to further raise awareness of sexual harassment, bullying, date rape and substance abuse.” It’s obvious that Steubenville, population 18,000, is under nationwide scrutiny, and pleading with itself and the country to repair its damaged reputation.

Speaking of reputations, one of the most stomach churning after effects of a reported rape is the character assassinations slung against the alleged victim. Shortly after the rape was reported, Big Red volunteer coach Nate Hubbard, 27, accused the victim of covering up a night of partying with a fake rape charge. He said, “The rape was just an excuse, I think. What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that? She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”

Walter Madison, Richmond’s lawyer, claimed that before that night in August the victim had posted provocative comments and photographs on her Twitter page over time. He contended that those online posts demonstrated that she was sexually active and showed that she was “clearly engaged in at-risk behavior.”

Yes, because no rape case would be complete without making damn sure everybody knows that that slut was wearing something slutty, tweeting about her sluttiness, and – gasp – engaging in slutty sex. We can all go home folks. She asked for it. By having a vagina and having used it at least once, she tempted those vulnerable boys. Wait, it doesn’t matter if she was near unconscious. It doesn’t matter that virgins are raped. This girl –– like countless others –– should be held accountable for having recreational sex in the past, or at least the XX chromosome, to stay true to the banner double standard for which this fine world remains oxygenated with comments like Madison’s.

Defense attorneys have gone back and forth about whether any sexual activity took place that night. According to the New York Times story, which ran in December, Nemann, Mays’s lawyer, said “The whole question is consent. Was she conscious enough to give consent or not? We think she was. She gave out the pass code to her phone after the sexual assault was said to have occurred.” A month later, according to CNN, “Lawyers for both defendants have said their clients are not guilty. ‘We deny the accusations completely. We deny the lack of consent. We deny that there was sexual activity. We deny that there was a rape. And we steadfastly maintain that,’ Nemann said.” Scrambling to explain away this picture, which shows a limp and seemingly unconscious victim being carried to a party by at least one suspect, one defense attorney claims, “it was staged.” These desperate attempts to show that the alleged female victim was, in fact, coherent enough to give consent, is insulting to all women and a ghastly example to boys and men everywhere.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

There are so many layers and players in this case and everyone appears entangled in this tight-knit community. It has been reported that Prosecuting Attorney for Jefferson County, Jane Hanlin tried to convince the victim and her family not to report the rape. Hanlin is the mother of a Big Red football player not charged with a crime.

A LocaLeaks post states: “When the family of the victim went to file the charges, Jane Hanlin [the prosecutor] was present. She strongly discouraged them from filing. Hanlin frightened not only the victim, but the parents as well. Telling them that her name was going to be dragged through the mud, she will be in and out of court for well over two years, the press wouldn’t leave any of the family alone once the crime was made public. Scared out of their wits, the parents said they didn’t want that and Hanlin then said not to worry just leave it up to her and the detectives on the case.”

Big Red friend and webmaster of a fansite for the team, Jim Parker, may have known about the “Rape Crew” and may have even helped them secure the date rape drug. At the very least he condoned the boy’s abhorrent actions. Indecent photos of underage girls were discovered on his computer by Anonymous, some may even be of the “Rape Crew’s” victims. Big Red Coach Reno Saccoccia, whose alleged motto is “lie till you die,” testified as a character witness for the defense and failed to bench alleged members of the “Rape Crew” even after news of the alleged assault broke and the incriminating pictures went viral online.

The New York Times reports: “Approached in November to be interviewed about the case, Saccoccia said he did not ‘do the Internet,’ so he had not seen the comments and photographs posted online from that night. When asked again about the players involved and why he chose not to discipline them, he became agitated. ‘You made me mad now,’ he said, throwing in several expletives as he walked from the high school to his car. Nearly nose to nose with a reporter, he growled: ‘You’re going to get yours. And if you don’t get yours, somebody close to you will.’”

If you aren’t a Friday Night Lights fan and you didn’t grow up in a small town that revolves around athletics, you’ll be surprised to learn that after 30-plus years of coaching, Coach Saccoccia has a status not unlike that of the late-Joe Paterno at Penn State. Coach Reno has so much power, in fact, that Steubenville High School’s principal and superintendent relied upon him to discipline the players.

The New York Times reports, “Shawn Crosier, the principal of Steubenville High, and Michael McVey, the superintendent of Steubenville schools, said they entrusted Saccoccia with determining whether any players should be disciplined for what they might have done or saw the night of Aug. 11. Neither Crosier nor McVey spoke to any students about the events of that summer night, they said, because they were satisfied that Saccoccia would handle it.”

Furthermore, Saccoccia may have even told his team to delete any evidence still remaining on their cell phones such as pictures and video. No longer at the helm of the investigation, Saccoccia’s friend, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, is now receiving death threats as anger rises at the apparent collusion among prosecutors, coaches, teachers, parents and police.

An aside: In case you were wondering, as was I, why the victim was asked for the passcode to her phone, it was later reported by CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “she sent a text to one of the people saying she wasn’t raped or ‘I know you didn’t rape me.’” CNN reports that this text is one that the defense plans to use in court. However, according to “KY”, the leader of KnightSec, he uncovered tweets indicating that the alleged victim lost her phone right after that evening and it is possible that, if that text indeed exists, someone else sent it using her phone. So much cover up, so much conspiracy, it’s hard to keep track.

Let’s return to the infamous video and what “Nodi” said in the twelve minute long tape, filmed at 2 AM after the victim was allegedly dragged, lifeless after one assault to another party, then another.

“She is so raped right now. There won’t be any foreplay for a dead girl. It ain’t wet now, to be honest. Trust me, I’m a doctor.”

McNamara, the attorney for “Nodi” said, “He was not raised to act in this manner.”

But, how was he raised? How were any of these boys raised?

Who’s Responsible? Raising Rapists – or Princes, Magicians and Lovers

Rosalind Wiseman, author of the bestselling book Queen Bees and Wannabes appeared on CNN as part of a panel which also included Dr. Drew. They discussed the Steubenville case, underage drinking, and attempted to address WHY none of the witnesses that evening came to the defense of the teenage victim.

Wiseman, who has worked with kids for decades as an educator and author, surmised: “These boys feel that if they said anything about it, that they would not be believed or that the adults in the community would not take care of it…There’s a lot of boys in this community who do not have faith in the adults that they will do the right thing.”

Rosalind continues, “Parents are saying to boys four things. They are saying, be a gentleman, but they’re not really saying what that looks like. Then they’re also saying things like, don’t get her pregnant, don’t get an STD. If you do something, don’t do something stupid, and if you do something stupid, don’t get caught.”

Given that kids spend the majority of their time at school, and the fact that athletes have after school practices and form insurmountable bonds with each other and their coaches, whom they look up to as role models, Wiseman astutely observes, “Coaches are so meaningful to kids… they are so much more than teaching boys on the field. They are teaching boys about what it means to be a man. And so what I’m thinking is, is that the coach failed these children in the most fundamental way possible.”

While we struggle to understand and deconstruct the psychology of gang rape, the effects of media on girls and women, and how in the hell all this shit could have gone down in such a small town, one thing is abundantly clear; What we’re doing now and how we’re doing it, isn’t working. Girls and women are not the only victims of patriarchal thinking. Boys and men are falling asunder too. And, until we cherish every sex equally and begin taking responsibility for the education of our youth, we’ll continue to read about cases like these.

As Wiseman poignantly asked, “Even if this is not rape, let’s just say that that’s not the case. Do you actually want boys to conduct themselves and have relationships with girls and talk about girls in this way?”

Lightning Strikes and Eyes Are Forced Open

Every man is born from the body of a woman. And, if he’s lucky, he’ll die in the arms of one. It’s the time in between that he’s responsible for protecting us. It is every man’s duty to watch over the women in his life from near or far, and to obstruct injustices that are forced upon her. If he does not –– he has failed at his job.

There are times when religion and the tyranny of the majority feels so archaic and repressive in how it trains us to raise children. A friend wrote me with profundity following news of Delhi gang rape victim Jyoti Singh Pandey’s death. He said: “I fully believe that we are entering an age of rational matriarchy, and leaving behind the age of irrational patriarchy. And during the transition there will be many horrors. But ultimately we’ll live in a better age of reason and healing.”

I pray that the gang rape in India and the subsequent protests and international outcry will help the women of India. I pray that the alleged gang rape in Steubenville, Ohio, likewise, results in a reexamination of the exaltation of athletes and the promotion of criminal sexual behavior in our culture. Let lives lost and souls robbed and our tears not be shed in vein.

Whatever happened the night of August 11th, 2012, the remnants indicate at the very least a lapse in humility, decency and empathy, and a chasm between reality and a technology obsessed and fueled unreality. As a race, we must figure out what we stand for, which team we’re playing on, who our “god” is, what motivates us, and what determines us each day, in every action, in every way. Is it money? Peace? Pride? Winning? Ego? Mindlessness? Drugs? Hope? Action? Because it is that blank, once filled in, that will motivate us as individuals, and ultimately save or damn our humanity. We must consistently question and challenge authority, and be judicious about whose lead we follow.

In an effort to challenge failed authority, over 2,000 protesters, including those wearing Anonymous’s trademark Guy Fawkes masks gathered in Ohio to “Occupy Steubenville” and alert the town to that fact that “the world is watching.” This chant provided a staccato rhythm for those carrying signs adorned with adages like “Unconscious is not consent,” and “Rape is not a sport.”

Twelve women spoke of their sexual assaults that had gone without investigation for up to twenty years. The activists rallied in support of the teen victim and girls and women like her. No doubt Occupy Steubenville and actions like it will cause a ripple effect. Why such a drastic turn of events has to take place for the world to open its eyes, I don’t know. But I’m just grateful that, for now, it has.

For more information on breaking details of the case follow The Atlantic and LocalLeaks. Read this interview with a member of Anonymous, and please consider donating to LocalLeaks.

Jan 2013 09

by Steven Whitney

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on Bill HR-41, finally funding disaster relief for all the towns, cities, and states that Sandy devastated just over ten weeks ago.

Why it took so long for the bill to reach the floor and why it approves only 16% of the total Senate disaster package has still to be credibly explained.

Led by the inimitable Paul Ryan, 67 Republicans voted against the bill, stern in the belief that the millions of Americans who were ravaged by the storm of the century could pull themselves up by their soaked bootstraps and rebuild without the government’s meddlesome intervention. Or perhaps they hope that concerts by McCartney, Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Clapton and the rest of the rock community can eventually pay for all the damage, one concert at a time – over the next 50 or 150 years.

Actually, Republicans have been very clear about how relief from catastrophic calamities that befall others should be administered.

First, they don’t want to spend one dollar on assistance unless it is taken (or stolen) by equal cuts from so-called “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Social Security, Title X, and anything else that benefits underprivileged Americans. To get $10 billion in relief, how about a $10 billion in spending cuts on breast and uterine exams? You want $10 billion more? All right, let’s cut food stamps and starve the poorest among us. You want another $40 billion? Okay, we’ll just confiscate everyone’s social security accounts and let the old geezers fend for themselves.

The idea here is to pick the pocket of poor Americans to provide aid to other devastated Americans. Just as long as anyone who actually has money – maybe even a nest egg – doesn’t have to pay an extra penny.

Secondly, Republicans have long wanted to completely privatize disaster relief so corporations can make a 20% (or more) profit on providing aid to the needy. Really, you can’t make this stuff up. And I’d bet a dime to a dollar that, following the Dick Cheney playbook, Halliburton has already done an internal study on how to reap maximum profits from the misfortune of others.

The Marine Corps, perhaps the proudest of all our institutions, lives by the maxim that no one is left behind. No one. Ever. It not only defines their extraordinary code of honor, it is the foundation of ethics and morality by which most Americans live.

I say “most” because these 67 Republicans apparently want nothing to do with ethics, morality, or a code of honor.

You don’t have to have a liberal bias to confirm the facts. Every single Democrat voted to help their fellow citizens in a time of dire need. And these 67 Republicans – with their state and district numbers – voted for leaving millions of their fellow Americans behind:

Justin Amash R MI-3
Andy Barr R KY-6
Dan Benishek R MI-1
Kerry Bentivolio R MI-11
Marsha Blackburn R TN-7
Jim Bridenstine R OK-1
Mo Brooks R AL-5
Paul Broun R GA-10
Steven J. Chabot R OH-1
Doug Collins R GA-9
K. Michael Conaway R TX-11
Tom Cotton R AR-4
Steve Daines R MT-1
Ron DeSantis R FL-6
Scott DesJarlais R TN-4
Sean Duffy R WI-7
Jeffrey Duncan R SC-3
John J. Duncan Jr. R TN-2
Stephen Fincher R TN-8
John Fleming R LA-4
Bill Flores R TX-17
Virginia Foxx R NC-5
Trent Franks R AZ-8
Louie Gohmert R TX-1
Robert W. Goodlatte R VA-6
Paul Gosar R AZ-4
Trey Gowdy R SC-4
Sam Graves R MO-6
Tom Graves R GA-14
Andy Harris R MD-1
George Holding R NC-13
Richard Hudson R NC-8
Tim Huelskamp R KS-1
Randy Hultgren R IL-14
Lynn Jenkins R KS-2
Jim Jordan R OH-4
Doug Lamborn R CO-5
Kenny Marchant R TX-24
Thomas Massie R KY-4
Tom McClintock R CA-4
Mark Meadows R NC-11
Markwayne Mullin R OK-2
Mick Mulvaney R SC-5
Randy Neugebauer R TX-19
Steven Palazzo R MS-4
Steve Pearce R NM-2
Scott Perry R PA-4
Tom Petri R WI-6
Mike Pompeo R KS-4
Tom Price R GA-6
Phil Roe R TN-1
Todd Rokita R IN-4
Keith Rothfus R PA-12
Ed Royce R CA-39
Paul D. Ryan R WI-1
Matt Salmon R AZ-5
David Schweikert R AZ-6
F. James Sensenbrenner R WI-5
Marlin Stutzman R IN-3
William M. Thornberry R TX-13
Randy Weber R TX-14
Brad Wenstrup R OH-2
Roger Williams R TX-25
Joe Wilson R SC-2
Rob Woodall R GA-7
Kevin Yoder R KS-3
Ted Yoho R FL-3

Those who criticize Republicans have a misguided belief that they can listen and change if the right argument is put to them. But that assumes reasonable people and these fools are anything but reasonable – they don’t listen to common sense or possess any human morality and have no concept of the common good of a nation and its people. So let’s all stop criticizing these court jesters and just ridicule them.

And no more trying to convince them to “do the right thing.” These Republicans need to be punished. So take action! If you see on this list any Representative from your state, immediately start a Petition of Impeachment and get the signatures of every person of voting age in your state. And join with those from disaster areas like New York and New Jersey and March on Washington – let’s say 30 million strong. Then surround the Capitol Building until these 67 jerks surrender en masse to the mercy of those they would leave behind.

May a swarm of locusts invade their houses…and frogs inhabit their borders…and lice crawl on the endless boils of their skin…and their sightless eyes see the darkness of their ways…and a pox settle on all their houses.

That is less admonishment than they deserve.

It’s time to punish the 67!


Jan 2013 06

by Rachel Allshiny

“What are you doing for New Year’s?” The question, posed by friends and family members this past week, seemed innocent enough. When I cheerfully answered, “Protesting the prison industrial complex,” however, most people were taken aback.

My sister-in-law tried to convince me that a prison protest on New Year’s Eve would accomplish nothing beyond annoying the guards. A friend said I should take the day off of political activism and do something fun. My parents have given up making sense of my extracurricular activities altogether.

But to me, a prison noise demonstration was the only place I wanted to be. I have been very active in supporting political prisoners this past year, primarily the NATO 5 and Jeremy Hammond. Through my interactions with them and the system that has taken them hostage, I have come to recognize how many lives are ruined when we lock people in cages. I no longer trust the “justice” system to determine guilt or innocence, and I know that the prisons have done far more harm to individuals and our society as a whole than can ever be justified.

The first noise demonstration began mid-afternoon at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago, a federal prison. Like many protest actions I have attended, there was a festive spirit to the gathering. Many protesters wore brightly colored masks and used a variety of New Year’s party noisemakers to add to the general ruckus. The plaza was still cordoned off with yellow CRIME SCENE tape from a recent prison break, in which two bank robbers successfully wove a rope out of bed sheets and lowered themselves down 15 stories. One of the men remains at large. We asked people to bring their old bed sheets and knotted them into a rope of our own right there in the plaza. It was a symbol of liberation for all who are incarcerated as well as an embarrassing reminder of the facility’s recent security breach.

We chanted and sang, shouted and danced. A few people swung the bed sheets like a jump rope. We marched around the building, followed closely by Chicago Police Department and Department of Homeland Security vehicles. The building goes straight up and has only the narrowest of windows, but we were soon able to see prisoners waving at us from every floor. Some turned their lights off and on repeatedly to get our attention. We cheered. The guards just stood their ground and glared at us.

The first noise demo ended at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building. A woman spoke about travesty of workplace raids, as well as whole families rounded up in home raids, all resulting in record numbers of deportations. These immigration detention centers are like a shadow prison system – “detention” is not considered “incarceration” and a different set of rules apply to the undocumented.


After a short break to allow people to warm up, we met at Cook County Jail for a second noise demo. This time we armed ourselves with glow sticks and were joined by a ragtag anarchist marching band. Also joining us was a veritable fleet of CPD and Cook County Sheriff cars, and two bike cops who must have drawn the short end of the stick. By this point it was very cold, and getting colder by the minute.

The plan was to circle the perimeter of the jail, which is close to a 2-mile walk. (Cook County is not only one of the most notorious jails in the country, but also the largest, and houses 10,000 inmates at any given time.) But first we veered off course and crossed the street to stop by Division 11, the newest section of the jail, built outside of the main compound. The other divisions are set back behind rolls of razor wire or overlap with other buildings, blocking our view of the windows. But Division 11 has windows facing directly onto an open plaza, and we were able to easily see and be seen by those inside.

The reaction of the inmates to our presence was incredible. We saw rows of silhouettes waving, clapping, dancing, jumping with joy. They banged on the windows and flickered their lights at us. One inmate took off his uniform shirt and swung it around his head. It was the most electric, uplifting feeling imaginable. The band played louder, we danced and clapped and made some noise. We ignored the guards yelling at us and the lights flashing atop squad cars and gave it everything we had. When we finally turned back to circle the main compound, a young woman stopped banging on a pot lid long enough to exchange a high five and irrepressible grin with me.

The jubilant spirit did not last long. Within a few minutes, we were having a tense confrontation with our law enforcement escorts, which result in a violent and entirely unnecessary arrest. The protester would later be charged with felony aggravated battery, but the only violence I saw that night was perpetrated by officers of the law on unarmed, peaceful activists.

Still, we made a complete circuit around the jail. On the last leg of the journey we spent some time blocking a side street with the bed sheet rope snaked between us, dancing and singing. It was a glorious moment, in no way diminished by the police officers watching us dubiously from every direction.

As a society, we try to hide our problems, to lock them away instead of working proactively on solutions. When our problems inevitably worsen and multiply we lock those away, too – and find a way to make the whole system profitable for well-connected individuals and corporations. We do everything possible to make prisoners –– most of whom are serving time for non-violent offenses, most of whom have dark skin –– invisible.

Noise demos such as these, in solidarity with others held on New Year’s Eve across the globe, refuse to buy in to that mentality. We stand up and say: They have hidden you away, but we see you. They have told us to forget, but we remember you. They have demanded that jail be miserable and dehumanizing –– but we brought you a marching band.

In a call from Cook County Jail on the morning of December 31st, one of the NATO 5 explained to me: “It’s hard to be in here this time of year. Even if you aren’t big on celebrating the holidays, other people are feeling it. Everybody is missing someone.”

I feel good about how we spent New Year’s Eve. It was exciting to see prisoners expressing joy, which they get to do so rarely. It was cathartic to unleash my own pent up frustration at the jail’s unforgiving walls in the form of a primal, wordless scream. Most of all, it was inspiring to see so many others committed to supporting prisoners in 2013 and beyond.

This is what solidarity looks like.

Photos courtesy of Lee Klawans and Chicago Indymedia.


Dec 2012 17

by Sandor Stern

Dear Republican Friends,

Regarding your stance on gun control…

On December 14th, 20 schoolchildren and 6 adults were massacred by gunfire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The following day, the Los Angeles Times front page headline read: “Evil Visited This Community.” Really? Evil? Have we come so far in the 21st Century that our response to a horrendous act by a mentally unbalanced man is couched in the terms of the 17th Century? Are we still responding to human initiated barbarity with labels like “evil” or perhaps “witch”? Does the impulsive action of one demented soul approach the level of planned and organized mass killings that rightly bear the description of evil. To label the actions of this man as evil is to suggest a fateful biblical connotation allowing us to throw up our hands in despair and defeat.

Lets be real. This act was not biblical. It was not evil. Even though human perpetrated, it was a natural disaster like any other natural disaster –– hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami’s, tornados –– the list is small but the results are devastating. Until we approach mass killings as natural disasters we will continue to do nothing about them but bury our dead and chew up paper and airtime in a repetitive gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth. We cannot prevent natural disasters but we can reduce their fatality rate. Earthquakes kill less people in communities that institute proper building codes. That’s the reason less people die and fewer buildings are destroyed in Los Angeles as compared to Mexico or China. New Orleans would have suffered quantitatively less damage from flooding had there been the foresight and the will to strengthen their levees. Hurricane Sandy is a prime example of foresight and will. The City of Long Beach, NY suffered enormous property damage while the beach cities on either side faired much better. Why? Because in 2006 all beach cities were offered the opportunity to have the Army Corp Of Engineers build protective sand dune barriers at the cost to each city of 10%, while the government paid the additional 90%. Beach cities on either side of Long Beach said yes. The Long Beach City Council voted 5-0 against it.

As for the catastrophe of mass killings, though we will never prevent them, we can through foresight and will reduce the number of victims. In the Los Angeles Times on the same day as the headline quoted above, another article appeared. At an elementary school in China, a man attacked and slashed 22 children. Slashed –– he had no gun. Of the children attacked, four were hospitalized with serious wounds. None were killed. This was the first such attack in a year. This is a country with four times our population. Newtown was the seventh mass killing in the USA this year. Since 1982 there have been 61 mass killings in this country. The weapons used totaled 139 firearms. And this is only the tally for mass killings. Every year more than thirty thousand people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Eight thousand are homicide deaths. Sixteen thousand are suicides and another thousand are accidental deaths. The remainder of deaths are police related. If we have the foresight and will to reduce our death toll it is obvious that firearms are the key.

This is not about illegal weapons. Of the weapons used in mass killings since 1982, more than three quarters were legally purchased. This is not about the interpretation or misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment –- even though it begins with the words “a well regulated militia” and makes one muse on the militia status of the vast majority of gun owners. This is about the type of weapon allowed in the hands of any citizen. The victims in Newtown were shot multiple times. The killer used a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle that can hold up to thirty rounds. So what hunter needs a rifle that fires thirty rounds? What homeowner needs thirty rounds of rapid fire to protect his property from a robber? This is madness, folks, and it is a madness on an organized level. The NRA and its lobbying and bullying must bear the brunt of this lack of foresight and planning. I say to any of you who will not support gun control laws that you are enablers of mass murder. Think about that when you cry over those innocent lives lost last Friday. Perhaps it’s not too late to find your conscience.

Your friend,


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