Having lead gay characters on prime-time television in 1998 was a political act. Will and Grace’s very presence and founding was political. To criticize, ‘When did it get so political?’ is to betray your own ignorance in missing the very point of its existence. To desire a harmless, sterile Will and Grace indicts you as one who does not want for minorities to politicize themselves, and more generally, as one who, under the guise of ‘escapism’ feels he has earned the right to be ignorantly, willfully blind to such struggles. In a country that today voted against banning the death penalty for homosexuals, you can hide and escape in cowardliness; we cannot.
This is what happens when human lives are made subject to an unrestricted capitalist turn-for-profit. The Department of Corrections argues legal aid is ‘a very expensive thing for taxpayers’. The humane, just, and obvious solution is not then to outsource this legal aid. It is to decriminalize in a nation that carries the damning distinction of incarcerating its citizens at the highest rate in the world per capita. This is a society that locks up its own so as to not have to be held accountable to them. 16 years ago Portugal decriminalized the use of all illicit drugs and now has one of the lowest drug-induced death rates of any country in the world. Cost-cutting is not a humanism. This same corporatism of a kind with the 2008 Kids for Cash scandal has taught us nothing.
This rhetoric of ‘access’ is perverted doublespeak. Utterly virtual, ‘access’ hedges its bets on a degree of non-fulfillment: that this access will not be taken advantage of. It is a means to dodge responsibility. Unless one is given in advance the knowledge of how, when, where, and why to access this benefit, then no real access has been given: the material conditions necessary to actualize a possibility. In the same way as giving African-Americans access to Little Rock Central High School did not mean they could enter it- they could not until escorted by the 101st Airborne Division.
Legal aid is required by law. This is not a fulfillment of the law; this is an circumvention of it.
Those who critique with the truism that the arms of the 18th century were not those of the present day, move toward the proper materialist critique of this clause, but on the wrong side. It is not the arms of the 18th century that is the turning point, but rather the government.
It has nothing to do with the difference between guns then versus now- to admit this argument is already to give in. It has only to do with the purported reason for them: the justification that they are ‘necessary to the security of a free State’. More than 200 years ago, the power of a government resided in its standing army in proportion to the threat over its territorial claims. This is the threat that necessitated the clause. Today however it is not our neighbors who threaten our state – France, Spain, and Great Britain are not contesting North American independence.
The state’s own government threatens the state when it no longer recognizes itself as accountable to the common citizen. Arms will not prevent the takeover of your government by fascists – and in any case this government has more militarized arms than you: this takeover has already happened, soundlessly in a chamber with the passing of laws that disenfranchise its citizens. The paradigmatic war for our time is the Cold War; arms are not the privileged instrument of warfare, but ideology. Only an educated and civically-active polity could have assured a free state.
The difference between Tracy Chapman’s 1988 original and the Jonas Blue remix spans the entirety of ideology.
The cyclical perpetuation from the singer’s ‘old man’ to her partner is a product of the father’s lack of labor power to sell as an aged person. He cannot exploit himself on the market and there are not adequate social resources in place for those in such a position (the frail, elderly, mentally unfit, etc.) Thus the singer is compelled to quit school in order to sell her own labor for a minimum, non-living wage. She is coerced out of a future.
In the remix, stanzas 6 through 8 are excised, but such stanzas index precisely the forms of societal subjugation: ‘I work in the market as a checkout girl. You’ll find work . . . We’ll move out of the shelter . . . You stay out late drinking at the bar’. The fact that the American dream, ‘buy[ing] a bigger house and liv[ing] in the suburbs’ was never anything more than a delusion: ‘I’d always hoped for better’. In their absence, the one stanza of critique which remains, ‘Somebody’s got to take care of him so I quit school’, becomes senseless in its out-of-placeness.
The song instead becomes an ode to escapism rather than precisely a critique of a society that bars any escape for its subjects. For capitalist ideology needs you to believe you are freely selling yourself, and here pop music falls in step with the official ideology. The only truth that remains would be dialectical: the subject must desire a liberated escape precisely because it knows itself to be unfree.
To indict ‘reality television’ for not being real is precisely to miss the point; rather, it is that the televisual structures our contemporary experience of reality. To speak of ‘America’s moral decline’ reeks of nuclear family, 1950s values. It is to take the mantle of the conservative right’s sententiousness and outfit oneself with it. It is not in our interest to revive such regressive rhetoric.
Any argument that need resort to the ‘slippery slope’ fallacy- the very same that 30 years ago would tendentiously assert ‘if a man can marry a man, where does it stop, it is a slippery slope to a man marrying his dog, etc. etc.’-, can be dismissed without further ado.
The argument of unthinking imitation based on what you view is old hat- 18 year gamers are not going out, stealing cars, and driving them across Venice Beach at 100 mph, running over multitudes of people in the process. It ignores the cathartic economy of art. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ is fine if you disbelieve in people so much that you must equate their cognitive faculties with primates.
I will answer one question: ‘Documenting the escapades of a bunch of gay men on Fire Island may seem harmless, but what effect could it have on gay preteens who have yet to come out?’ It might make them aware that there are places where being openly gay can celebrated, place where there is a community- however flawed that community, like any, may be-, and that gayness can be unapologetic.
It is precisely a ‘normalization’ of this that we need. We have absolutely no duty to ‘elevate public perception of us as best as we can’. For them to accept us only on their own, sanitized terms would mean already to play directly into their hand and to lose the game.
The official statement from the Chechnyan presidential office damns it precisely as much as if it had openly admitted to torturing homosexuals: ‘You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.’
The rhetoric recalls Stalinism. Not simply in its apophatic invocation of Siberian labour camps. One must make the dialectic switch in order to read between the lines: precisely because these are non-people, ‘people who simply do not exist’, that is why they cannot be detained: for, in order to be unjustly detained one must be legally recognized as a person with human rights. The erasure of them as non-people is the admission of inhumanity.
‘If there were such people’: the subjunctive conditionality of the counterfactual. This is precisely how Adorno defines totalitarianism: ‘Totality is to be opposed by convicting it of nonidentity with itself- of the nonidentity it denies’ (Negative Dialectics, 147). Ramzan Kadyrov’s ‘republic’ denies anything unlike itself, must deny that anything could be unlike itself, anything that would threaten its integrated, self-identical totality. To deny that things could ever be otherwise is the shibboleth of ideology.
Mordrons à l’hameçon et acceptons cet être imaginaire, cette ‘femme de paille’ qui s’appelle ‘Sandra’. En plus, laissons à coté le fait que les étrangers font environs 10% de ceux qui sont dans un logement sociale. La vraie honte n’est pas que ‘Sandra’ ne peut pas emménager dans un logement social- comme si cela était un privilège. La vraie honte c’est plutôt que, dans un monde de surproduction, une société existe qui fait qu’une mère soit réduite à avoir besoin d’un logement social. C’est-à-dire, ce n’est pas la faute de n’importe quel immigré en particulier. C’est plutôt la faute d’un système qui fait une telle société, un système qui vous oblige de choisir, dans le faux dilemme ‘cette personne-ci ou cette personne-là’, qui mérite une vie. Quand la vraie, la seule réponse à un tel dilemme serait : les deux. Les seules personnes coupables ici sont ceux qui défendent et défendraient un tel système pour eux-mêmes.