Gunmen Shoot 5 at Minneapolis Black Lives Matter Protest

The NYT and Washington Post have articles up about this:

Police announced on social media that five people suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and that officers were searching for “3 white male suspects” who fled the scene.

Miski Noor, an organizer at the Minneapolis arm of Black Lives Matter, said the shooting happened as demonstrators were escorting three masked men who had been behaving suspiciously away from the site of the rally, where people have gathered for more than a week to protest the Nov. 15 shooting of Jamar Clark, 24.

When they reached a dark area, the men turned around and opened fire on the demonstrators before fleeing, Ms. Noor said.

Jie Wronski-Riley, a student at the University of Minnesota, told the Star Tribune that the shooting occurred as protesters tried to move the counter-demonstrators, who had been taunting protesters, away from the protesters’ camp in front of the police station. Suddenly, Wronski-Riley heard what sounded like firecrackers.

“Surely they’re not shooting human beings,” he thought to himself before looking down and realizing that two African American men on either side of him had been hit, he told the Star Tribune, adding that the incident turned “really chaotic, really fast.”

Jessica Jones, Harassment, and Power

Arthur Chu has an article up on Slate about Jessica Jones, a new Marvel Netflix series:

Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones is many things. It’s possibly the biggest surprise spotlight grab by a B- or even C-list comic book charactersince Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s one of the grimmest, darkest, boldest shows out there: a TV show that’s essentially 13 hours of PTSD related to the aftermath of sexual assault.

And it’s a huge feminist achievement. This is a show in which rape is a core theme, but one that pretty much entirely avoids feeling exploitative or male-gazey. It’s a show with a female showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg, who’s done her homeworkabout depicting sexual assault and the associated PTSD realistically and responsibly and who knows all the standard tropes for strong female characters and deftly avoids most of them. But perhaps most interestingly, Jessica Jones is our first identifiably post-Gamergate thriller.

“Dilbert Creator Scott Adams on Consent: “Take Away My Access to Hugging, I Will Probably Start Killing”

The Mary Sue has a post up about Adams’ recent comments:

In his blog post entitled “The Global Gender War,” published last Tuesday, Adams writes:.

When I go to dinner, I expect the server to take my date’s order first. I expect the server to deliver her meal first. I expect to pay the check. I expect to be the designated driver, or at least manage the transportation for the evening. And on the way out, I will hold the door for her, then open the door to the car.

When we get home, access to sex is strictly controlled by the woman. If the woman has additional preferences in terms of temperature, beverages, and whatnot, the man generally complies. If I fall in love and want to propose, I am expected to do so on my knees, to set the tone for the rest of the marriage.

Obviously it’s absurd and terrifying that a man who is somewhat of a public figure can advertise on the Internet, without fear of repercussion, that he thinks consent is a bummer, and that posting screeds like this one has probably earned Adams some loyal fans. He’s not alone in his terrible and dangerous opinions. But I’m also frankly confused by the scenario Adams describes here. He hates considering women’s temperature and beverage preferences (in addition, of course, to the total hassle of making sure she definitely wants to have sex)? For someone who I’m sure hates the term “man baby,” he definitely seems overwhelmed by the minimum of social sacrifices that accompany adulthood.

Amnesty report on Europe’s approach to refugees

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before” António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The world is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Nearly 60 million people are forcefully displaced around the world due to conflict, violence and persecution. Over 19 million of them are refugees outside their home countries,5 of whom 86% are hosted by developing countries, and 25% in the least developed ones. Rather than being prepared to receive a small fraction of world’s refugees in a dignified manner, however, this report shows how the leaders of the European Union (EU) have sought to prevent their entry into the richest political bloc in the world, by erecting fences at land borders, deploying ever-increasing numbers of border guards, spending on surveillance technology and seeking to enlist neighbouring countries already hosting large numbers of refugees as gatekeepers.

The effect is to push refugees to take the most dangerous routes to reach Europe – particularly across the sea.

No matter how big the search and rescue effort in the Mediterranean, as long as refugees do not have any alternatives to reach safety than the sea, they will continue to die off Europe’s shores.

You can read Amnesty’s report in full here.

Helen De Cruz on women in science

in the Irish Times.

When it turned out that the person behind ‘I fucking love science’ was a woman (Elise Andrew), there were lots of sexist comments, such as ‘You mean you’re a girl, AND you’re beautiful? Wow, I just liked science a lil bit more today’.

For most people, the media – TV, internet and so on – are the only place where they hear about scientific findings. If the communicators of such findings are men, we’re likely ending up with a biased picture of science.

Interview with Elizabeth Barnes

An excellent interview with feminist philosopher Elizabeth Barnes, discussing (among other things) growing up as an evangelical in the Bible Belt; being disabled and discovering Disability Pride; the distinction between ‘core’ and ‘marginal’ pursuits in philosophy; women in philosophy; and work-life balance.  A small sample:


The social dimensions of disability are hard to identify, especially when you are growing up disabled in an environment that has a lot of negative social stigmas about disability. It’s easy for disability to just feel like your own private tragedy. And especially when, like I did, you have a condition that requires ongoing medical care, it’s easy chalk up all the difficulties you are experiencing to the fact that you are ‘sick’ – to blame everything on the biological condition of your body.

What I first encountered in disability studies was the idea that so much of what we struggle with as disabled people is social, not physical or medical. And so much of how we’re taught to think about ourselves as disabled people is determined by the opinions and stereotypes of non-disabled people – opinions and stereotypes which don’t really, when we get together and talk about it, reflect our lived experiences as disabled people. Learning about disability pride and thinking, for the first time, about the social dimensions of disability felt like having my view of the world turned upside down and shaken. It felt like having chains pulled off me that I hadn’t realized I’d been wearing. It felt like being given the ability to articulate feelings that I’d never been able to express before, even to myself. It was a deeply transformative experience that restructured the way I thought about myself, my body, and my place in the world.

When I started learning about disability pride, I finally dealt with the latent, entrenched feelings of shame and inadequacy that I had about my body. I learned, for the first time in my life, how to celebrate the ways that my body is different, rather than try to ‘overcome’ them or be successful ‘in spite of’ them. I can’t even begin to explain how much this improved my life, or the extent to which it was a fundamental change.

Oh, OK, one more small sample:

How do you think we can increase the diversity in philosophy, which is one of the least diverse disciplines?

I wish I knew! I suspect the answer is complicated and involves making concerted efforts along many different dimensions, from how we teach intro to how we handle grad admissions to how we approach hiring and promotion and everywhere in between. The problem is a deep and structural one, and there won’t be a quick or unilateral fix.

But I definitely think that we won’t solve the problem by keeping philosophy basically as it is, and just finding a friendlier, savvier way to market it. I think there are going to have to be changes in what we teach, in what we value, in what we consider ‘core’. I think Anita Allen was right, for example, when she said that it’s up philosophy to prove that it has something to offer Black women, rather than up to black women to prove they can fit into philosophy as it currently is. And I think the same thing goes for so many under-represented groups – people of color, disabled people, LGBT people. I also think that any genuine effort for diversity needs to be intersectional. I mean, I want philosophy to be a better place for women, but we won’t have come all that far if we end up making it a better place only for wealthy white cis non-disabled straight women.

But I’m cautiously optimistic. I think the very fact that we’re having these conversations – that we’re admitting that philosophy’s narrow demographics are something we should be concerned about, and that philosophy as a discipline might be at least partially to blame for them – is a good sign. Step one is admitting you have a problem.

7 Awful Things Told to Cracked by Syria’s War Refugees

Cracked specialise in listicles – 5 Things I Learned Infiltrating a Paranormal Convention, 5 Weird Ways You Didn’t Realize TV Is Sexist, you know the sort of thing. A recent article is the excellent We Met Syria’s War Refugees: 7 Awful Things They Told Us. It’s from September this year, but readers may not have seen it. It’s well worth a read – and, a weep – but I’ll just quote

#1. People Are Helping (And You Can Too)
Let’s give credit where credit’s due: Plenty of folks in Europe have been unbelievably awesome to the refugees flooding into their countries. German police in Munich actually had to ask people to stop sending in aid donations, because they were too “overwhelmed” to process everything they’d received. Thousands of people in the U.K. have volunteered to host refugees in their homes. But it isn’t enough… And the truth is, most countries don’t open their borders until the citizens raise enough of a stink to overcome the stink being raised by the opposition. While the E.U. floundered for a while at how to deal with the whole mess, they recently passed a sweeping plan that will rehome 150,000-plus new refugees. European members of parliament credited citizens getting super pissed off with shaming the government into doing the right thing.

Read more here.

Refugees in Lesbos

Calais is, of course, only one of several places along Europe’s borders where refugees gather. Another is Lesbos, where some people making the dangerous crossing from Turkey in flimsy boats end up. Many don’t make it, and drown at sea. Conditions on Lesbos are appalling. The island cannot cope with the numbers of refugees arriving. A few volunteer organisations try to help as best they can, but provision is woefully inadequate.

“There are thousands of children here and their feet are literally rotting, they can’t keep dry, they have high fevers and they’re standing in the pouring rain for days on end. You have one month guys, and then all these people will be dead”.

Those were the final words of Dr Linda on the phone, a doctor that our volunteer organisations (Help Refugees and CalAid) had asked to fly out to Lesbos in response to an emergency cry for help from an overwhelmed volunteer on the ground…

The situation in Moria [a refugee camp on Lesbos] is utterly catastrophic. I’ve had people holding half dead babies up to me the whole day and we have nowhere to send them. All the NGOs are inside and doctors only rarely come out. Tomorrow will be a disaster, there are no dry clothes for anyone, no shelter, there are children sleeping in bin bags, no food, no blankets, no diapers for babies. No access to drinking water for the people at the back of the line, people will sleep in the wet and cold tonight in the open air, half the people will wake up sick, some will die.

You can read more here.

Want to help? How to Help Refugees has a list of all the organisations working on Lesbos, and information about how to get involved.

Police violence in the Jungle, Calais

European readers of this blog will no doubt know about the unofficial refugee camp at Calais. For those of us based in the UK, it’s the nearest such encampment to our borders. Calais has long been a place where migrants gather – for some, it’s the last point on a perilous journey to their intended destination of the UK. Conditions are, as one might imagine, horrendous. Astonishingly (or perhaps not, given Europe’s general, long-standing reluctance to deal adequately with forced migration), the first report into conditions in the Jungle – the largest migrant shanty town in Calais – was only carried out this year. It makes for an upsetting read. Around 3,000 people – men, women, and children (some of the women are pregnant) – live in ‘diabolical [conditions], with cramped makeshift tents plagued by rats, water sources contaminated by faeces and inhabitants suffering from tuberculosis, scabies and post-traumatic stress disorder… in conditions far below any minimum standards for refugee camps’. There is insufficient food, insufficient drinking water, and a lack of washing facilities. You can read the Guardian write-up here.

In addition, refugees are continually subject to police violence. A friend who has volunteered as a doctor in the Jungle reported that many of the people coming to her had wounds from police dogs that were set upon them. Other friends doing migrant support in the Jungle report that the police use tear gas daily. They are also using rubber bullets and concussion grenades. One such night of police violence occurred on November 9th:

Without the slightest sense of concern for the 60 or 70 families resident in this area of the camp the police’s barrage of tear gas and flash balls scattered over the camp, setting light to a tent, a pile of rubbish, trees, and bushes.

Mothers stood by while the police attacked, shouting in French that there were children in the camp. Groups of families returning from another part of jungle were caught by a plume of tear gas blowing across the area. Many of the protestors on the road used signs to protect themselves but the police continued to attack from several angles.

Late into the night, the police begin patrols to find migrants who had hidden in bushes by the road. At one point at least 20 cops shot tear gas for a full 5 mintues into an area until it was covered in smoke.

As the night continued, the intesnsity of the tear gas increased. The wind spread the cloud of caustic vapour around the entire west side of the camp. This was a clear message from the police, if you protest we will punish all of you. During the night there was also many injuries from tear gas canisters hitting people, causing burns and bleeding.

The injuries from this assault are difficult to quantify, it is easy to count the scores of respiratory problems, skin and eye irritations but the psychological trauma is harder to see. Women, children, and men fleeing conflict are treated to the best of French hospitality, a night of indiscriminate chemical repression exacted on the entire population of the camp.

You can read more here.

This is no way to treat people. Write to your governments. There needs to be a humane, European-wide response to the refugee crisis. We should not tolerate people living in these conditions on our shores.