Blaming the Victims (Yet Again)

This sickens me so much I’m at a loss for words:

Fifteen year-old Larry King (no relation to the CNN interviewer) was shot twice in the back of the head by his classmate Brandon McInerney while sitting in school in Oxnard, California. Now that McInerney is on trial, the boy’s legal team and the school administration are using the tried and true “he was asking for it” defense. This is totally disgusting.
According to a story in the L.A. Times today, “McInerney’s defense attorneys… acknowledge that the boy pulled the trigger but say that he was pushed to the breaking point by King’s taunts.” Yes, it’s the tried and true “gay panic defense” that preys on juries’ homophobia to get confessed killers cleared for murdering gay people. It was even used against Matthew Shepard, when one of his killers said he was driven to kill the gay college student because he hit on him.

It only gets worse from there.

I know that defense attorneys have very few avenues they can take with an obviously guilty client. But this tactic is beyond reprehensible. What they’re basically trying to argue is that, should you suffer an unwanted advance, it is perfectly right and fine to shoot a person in the head. You should be able to murder a human being and walk free just because you were briefly inconvenienced and made to feel a bit icky.

I don’t imagine they’d be arguing that women have that blanket right to murder men who come on to them. But, y’know, gays. Ew. Of course it’s all right for a straight guy to shoot a transsexual or a gay dude, because that’s a threat to manhood. Kinda like when your wife sleeps with some other dude. It’s okay to shoot ’em in the heat of passion – why not be able to shoot queers, too?

One can only hope that the jury is not so morally bereft as to buy this argument. But we need to have a conversation, a very long and unflinching conversation, about the kind of society in which arguments of this sort can even be entertained. We’re supposedly a first-world nation, and yet there are not insubstantial numbers of people who don’t see much wrong with demonizing and victimizing gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. When a little girl gets raped, an entire town rallies round the rapists, because, y’know, she wore makeup and was obviously asking for it. How dare those sorts of people lure nice, upstanding young men into performing savage acts?

Some folks, otherwise decent, may claim that the defense attorneys are only doing their job. Sure, they have to blame the victim – how else can they defend their client? I don’t know the answer to that. I know this, though: that sort of tactic is devastating to victims, survivors, and the culture at large. There’s probably nothing we can do to prevent defense attorneys from using such tactics, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them. We can speak out against them. We can tell our society that murdering a person because they made the mistake of flirting with a homophobic sociopath, that raping a girl because she wore makeup in the presence of men, is not justifiable. There are certain things you just do not do in a civilized society. There are some actions that cannot be excused on the grounds that the victim wasn’t a perfect, straight, chaste person.

This dehumanizing bullshit may be a tactic defense attorneys feel comfortable using, but society at large never should. Victims have shouldered too much of the blame. Time to pass that blame to those who have earned it: the victimizers.

Oh, Yes. Very Frivolous

A while back, our own Chris Rhetts asked me to unlimber the Smack-o-Matic and deliver an epic beatdown. He pointed me to this:

And I watched the trailer:

And I grew very, very angry. Verily, I wished to unleash the Smack-o-Matic upon the deserving. Because, you see, I’d been taken in by that: by the media and the comedians and all the rest who had made bitter fun of the woman who sued McDonald’s for spilling a cup of coffee. None of them ever made any mention of the fact that she’d suffered life-threatening burns in the process. They just laughed: silly wench. She should’ve known better than to spill coffee on herself. What a trivial thing to sue a corporation for.

When the corporation serves its coffee at 180 degrees F – 85% of the boiling point of water – it’s not trivial.

This is how not trivial it is:

Each year, approximately 3,800 injuries and 34 deaths occur in the home due to scalding from excessively hot tap water. The majority of these accidents involve the elderly and children under the age of five. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges all users to lower their water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to preventing accidents, this decrease in temperature will conserve energy and save money.

Most adults will suffer third-degree burns if exposed to 150 degree water for two seconds. Burns will also occur with a six-second exposure to 140 degree water or with a thirty second exposure to 130 degree water. Even if the temperature is 120 degrees, a five minute exposure could result in third-degree burns. [emphasis added]

Go spill some water on yourself. I guarantee you will be exposed for more than two seconds. Now, imagine that cold water is 180 degrees, and you are elderly, and thus already vulnerable to burns. Look at the wet bits of you, and imagine this is what you see (don’t go below the fold if you can’t handle graphic):

Photo courtesy Brown University

Now imagine that is your face.

Corporations should know basic things like, “Even tap water can kill if it’s over 120 degrees. And even very cautious people can spill things in paper cups.” You would hope they’d then say to themselves, “Maybe we shouldn’t serve our coffee at nearly the boiling point of water, then. Our paying customers might get hurt.”

McDonald’s didn’t follow that train of thought. And when their product nearly killed a woman, they offered her a pittance, and a lot of people banded together to turn her into a laughingstock. People didn’t look at the temperature and the fact that McDonald’s was serving an ultra-hot product without warning that it was far hotter than what people normally expect their hot beverages to be, and their subsequent refusal to do anything approaching decent when the inevitable happened and someone got hurt. No, people just tittered over the fact that a woman had spilled coffee on herself and sued.

Well, she’d nearly died, she was left permanently scarred, but she gave them a chance to make things right. A multi-million dollar lawsuit turned out to be the only language McDonald’s could understand.

Tort reform in a country without meaningful regulations and a way outside of lawsuits for consumers to hold companies accountable for their actions is a sick, evil joke.

So yes, I would love to take the Smack-o-Matic to this subject in some depth, but I don’t get HBO, so I can’t do it in tandem with the documentary. But luckily, people with bigger Smack-o-Matics than mine are all over it. Go. Read.

And the next time someone tries to use an elderly woman’s nightmare as an example of a frivolous lawsuit, tell them that only native decency keeps you from suggesting they spill 180 degree coffee on themselves to prove how trivial it is.

GOP Priorities: Redefining Rape

Right, then, ladies.  The Cons in Congress, together with a handful of despicable Dems, have decided we must have rape babiesObserve:

Under this new bill, the only rape survivors who would be able to receive funding [for abortion] would be those who were able to prove that their rapes involved “force.” If your rapist drugged you, intoxicated you, or raped you while you were unconscious, you don’t get coverage. If your rapist used coercion, you don’t get coverage. If this is a case of statutory rape — that is, if you are a thirteen-year-old child, raped by someone outside of your family — you don’t get coverage. If you’re an incest survivor over the age of eighteen — if, say, years of abuse only culminated in a pregnancy after your nineteenth birthday — you just don’t get coverage. And if you live in a state that doesn’t distinguish “forcible rape” from “rape,” you might not qualify, meaning that no matter what the circumstances of your assault were, well, sorry: You might not get coverage.

I cannot begin to describe how angry these fucktards make me.  They won’t understand, anyway.  Men can get raped, true – but they can never be impregnated by their attacker.  They don’t have to face that particular hell.  And the chances of them being raped in the first place is so vanishingly small that they can’t imagine the fear and the trauma women live with.

I would like to explain it to them.  I’d like to sit down in a room with all 173 co-sponsors and describe to them in minute detail everything that happened the morning I woke to a rapist at my door.  You know, it’s been nearly twenty years, and I still get sick to my stomach, my hands still sweat and shake, thinking about it.  And I’m one of the lucky ones.  I wasn’t physically scarred for life.  I didn’t end up pregnant.

If I had, and if an abortion had been denied to me because I didn’t fight hard enough, scream loud enough, risk my life adequately enough to satisfy the Cons in Congress, I can promise you something: I would’ve ended up killing myself if I couldn’t abort that baby.  They can’t understand, will obviously never understand, why many women wouldn’t be able to face carrying their attacker’s spawn to term.  Let me just put it this way: there are worse things than getting raped.  One of them is being denied any chance to regain some control over your own body afterward.  One of them is being forced to put your body through the further trauma of pregnancy and childbirth against your will.  And at that time, in the aftermath of the worst morning of my life, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to deal with it.  It was hard enough putting the shattered pieces back together without a swelling belly and constant reminders of the horror I’d gone through.

But they don’t care about a woman’s welfare.  Obviously not.  They have some fantasy about rape, which makes them just as despicable as the men who rape.  They think there’s some kind of honor to be fought for, that a woman should do everything in her power to guard her virtue rather than survive, and if she doesn’t, then she’s a slut who deserves everything she gets.

I wish I could take them back in time.  I wish I could turn what’s in my mind into a film, so I could walk them through the event.  I’d like to see their faces when they’re faced with the reality of sexual violence.  I’d like them to have to walk in my mind.  And I’d like to pause every so often, and ask, “Did I fight enough here?  How about here?  Was that rape forcible enough, or was it too gentle to qualify as the kind of rape where a woman is granted an abortion?”

I’d like them to have to experience every emotion with me, both during the attack and in the months and years afterward.  I’d like them to know just what it is to have control and integrity ripped away from you.  I’d like them to walk that fine line, knowing that if you fight too hard, you’re going to get yourself killed.  I’d like them to be there in my mind, the moment I realized I didn’t have the physical strength to fight my attacker off, and that no one could hear me scream.  I’d like them to share that instant where panic and gut instinct turned into a cold calculation, where I decided it would be a better idea to live.

Do they think I made the wrong choice, choosing survival over a fight to the death?  Do they think that making the choice to survive means signing away your right to your remaining bodily integrity?  And would they still believe that were they forced to live it with me?

They believe abortion is murder, and yet each and every one of them, should you ask, would likely tell you that killing someone in self-defense is justifiable.  Let me try to explain something to them: getting rid of a clump of cells isn’t murder, but let’s play on their field a moment.  That clump of cells that could become a human being someday is an intruder.  It broke in, it wasn’t invited, and it’s stealing from me.  It could kill me.  It’s certainly going to hurt me, both mentally and physically.  So if you believe some homicides are justified, why do you think it’s not justifiable to kill that intruder?

They need to walk in my mind.  They need to watch the months it took, feel the force of will it took, to regain function again, to not hide in the house anymore, to learn how to cope with a terrible new reality.  I dropped out of school, because I wasn’t capable of normal function for quite some time.  It took years before I could trust people again.  I still have bad moments.  But I’m nearly a whole human again.  I don’t think I would’ve gotten there if I knew I’d been forced to bear my rapist’s baby.  And I don’t have words strong enough to describe the visceral reaction I have to the idea.  That would have given me a lifelong connection to my rapist.  That would have been a level of trauma beyond my imagination.  I know my mind well enough to know that bearing a rape baby at the age of 18 would have broken it.

Is that the price I’m supposed to pay for being attacked?  According to the Cons in Congress, it is.  It’s my fault, you see.  I should’ve fought hard enough to keep from being impregnated or died in the attempt.  Nothing else will do.  They care more for a clump of cells than they do for a living, breathing, thinking and suffering woman.

But I don’t think they’ve thought this through, and that’s why I’d like them to experience what I did.  Because then, you see, they could imagine what it would be like if that had been their wife, or their daughter, or some other woman they may actually care about.  They may have to look at her a bit differently, and wonder if it’s worth destroying her in order to force her to grow a clump of cells fertilized by a rapist.  They might have to ask themselves if they’d really want her rape to be so forcible that it could kill her before they’d allow her the choice of aborting that clump of cells before she gets traumatized all over again.

Because, you see, what the Cons in Congress are saying to women is that if we don’t fight, if we don’t drive our rapist to really hurt us, then we’d better be prepared to have a rape baby.  If we’re strong enough and wise enough and lucky enough to survive, we’re to be punished.  We’re to have control and bodily integrity ripped away from us once more.  And if we want to avoid that second traumatization, we’d best escalate the situation.  There’s only one way to respond to rape in their world: fight.  Even though fighting could get us seriously hurt or killed.

That’s why, when I sit down in a room to describe what I went through in excruciating detail, I’d also want Robert K. Ressler, John Douglas, and Ann W. Burgess there.  Two of them are former FBI profilers, the other a forensic nurse.  They wrote a book called Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives.  They understand fully that a one-size-fits-all rape strategy would end in more seriously wounded and murdered women.  Let me direct your attention to the chapter for victims, wherein survival strategies are discussed:

When the amount of rage and aggression obviously exceed what is necessary to force compliance, a violent confrontative response on the part of the victim will generally increase the violence in the assault and place the victim at increased risk for serious physical injury.  Gratuitous violence on the part of the rapist places the victim in dangerous, volatile, and unpredictable situations.  For that reason, we recommend that the first response to violence not be violent.  If direct dialogue does not begin to neutralize the attacker (reduce the intensity of the aggression), then the victim will have no recourse but to employ any means available to object.  The offender believes that he is entitled to sex under any condition, and hence has a callous indifference to the comfort or welfare of the victim.  Both verbal resistance and nonconfrontative resistance strategies are appropriate.  Once it has been demonstrated that the rapist will likely use whatever force neccesary to gain victim compliance, confrontative physical resistance would be unwise unless the victim is confident that it will work.


If the attacker responds to victim physical confrontation with increased anger and/or violence, the victim should cease physical resistance.  If he responds by immediately ceasing his aggressive/violent behavior and is willing to engage the victim in conversation, he is also likely to be an exploitative rapist and the victim should use verbal strategies.


For the displaced-anger rapist, the victim is a substitute for and a symbol of the hated person(s) in his life.  The primary motive is to hurt and injure the victim.  Aggression may span a wide range from verbal abuse to brutal assault.  Continued physical confrontation, unless the victim is reasonably certain she will be able to incapacitate the attacker, may only justify the need to “punish” the victim and thus escalate the violence.

This is what the Cons in Congress want.  They want us, when confronted with a rapist, to have only one choice: escalate the violence.  Because, you see, if it wasn’t violent enough, it wasn’t a rape, and hence we are not victims who deserve the right and the funds to decide what to do with our bodies afterward, we’re hussies who are supposed to live with the consequences of our “decision.”  They want to teach little girls that they must fight to the death rather than do everything in their power to come out of a horrible situation reasonably whole, with a chance at a fairly normal life after.

They want us to ignore the sound survival strategies formulated by two FBI agents and a forensic nurse after years of study of violent offenders, because some of those strategies will lead to a not-so-forcible rape, which means the woman obviously didn’t try hard enough to defend her virtue.

You know that I find most everything Cons believe and advocate for these days to be either stupid or despicable.  I make no secret of that opinion.  But some of their ideas are more odious than others.  This is one.  When they advocate disgusting legislation such as this, they become victimizers themselves, no less than the original rapist.

So, after I’ve had a chance to take them on a walk through my mind, I have one final question for them: How does it feel to join a rapist in victimizing a woman? 

If you find this all as disgusting as I do, take action.  And use the #dearjohn hashtag on Twitter to let John Boehner and all know what you think of them.

It’s Not That Easy

So David Dayen wrote this article right after the Giffords shooting, taking the WaPo out to the woodshed and administering some tough love for being such complete fuckwits.  You see, WaPo decided that since there’s a law on the books in good ol’ AZ saying crazy folk can be committed, all those people who didn’t take advantage of the law to get Loughner off the streets before he put a bullet in a Congresswoman’s head and killed a whole bunch of others have something to answer for:

According to the Washington Post, Arizona has a law on the books that enables anyone to identify a potential victim of mental illness, and remand them for treatment:

Under Arizona law, any one of Jared Lee Loughner’s classmates or teachers at Pima Community College so concerned about his increasingly bizarre behavior could have contacted local officials and asked that he be evaluated for mental illness and potentially committed for psychiatric treatment.

That, according to local mental health and law enforcement officials, never happened.

Ah, yes.  Good ol’ Title 36.   Title 36, wot could’ve saved ’em all.

Let me tell you a little something about Title 36.  And it’s gonna get personal.

 My mother, you see, is off her nut.  She won’t mind me telling you.  She’d tell you herself, if you asked her.  I’m sure she’d be happy to tell you about being Title 36ed, too, and what the Arizona mental health care system was like.  And keep in mind something: that was before they slashed the funding.

When my mother went nuts, my dad and I didn’t know about Title 36.  We didn’t know about psychiatric disorders.  Sure, my uncle was crazy as a loon, but he’d been in the service, so the feds had taken care of that.  And this was my mom.  Sanest woman in the universe.  At least until the accident.  An old biddy rear-ended her.  She hit her head on the side window.  Nothing major.  But after that, she started getting odd.  She’d go to the chiropractor to have her neck adjusted and come back convinced that she had to change her diet.  She started eating nothing but squash.  She lost her skills as a homemaker.  She started flying off the handle at the least little thing.  We never knew what would set her off. She became withdrawn.  And we put it all down to stress from the accident.

Then she started sitting in my room at night.  I’d wake up with her breathing heavily over me, terrified, and she wouldn’t tell me why.  I started locking her out.

She’d wander off down the street, and howl at my dad when he dragged her back.  He had to lock her in the house to keep her from running off.  Otherwise, she’d just walk away, and we were afraid something would happen to her, because by then it was crystal clear she wasn’t rational.  But we had no idea what to do.  We didn’t know about Title 36, and she refused to admit anything was wrong.  So, for that matter, were we.  Hard to admit that your loved one’s crazy as a loon.

One of our physician friends finally got us in touch with a psychiatrist, a wonderful woman who persuaded my mother to sit with her long enough to figure out what the problem was: Bipolar Disorder.  The kind with the psychotic features.  Chemical imbalance, not a personality flaw, not something you could just snap out of if you really put your mind to it.  She’d need medication.

Oh, that did not go over well.  You see, my mother was convinced people were trying to poison her, although we didn’t know that at the time.  She refused medication.  And we couldn’t just bundle her off to a nice treatment facility.  Even with a supremely capable psychiatrist on your side, it’s hard to get someone committed against their will.  And when they wander the streets, it’s hard to get the police to take them in.  At first, it’s because there’s no diagnosis.  After that, it’s because getting them picked up could make their paranoia worse, so you’re reluctant to ask for police help.  And what can they do?  If that person’s not an imminent threat, they just drop them off at home, where a working father and a teenage daughter are at their wit’s end while they wait for the courts to decide the problem’s severe enough to do something about it.

We finally did get her committed.  And then came the issue of getting her to the facility.  A long drive up the canyon to Flagstaff, winding roads with cliffs, and a crazy woman trying to jump out of the car at 30mph.  She howled when we gave her to the orderlies.  She had to be heavily medicated and put in solitary at first.  If that doesn’t break your heart, nothing will.  It almost seems kinder to leave them alone with their paranoia, at home, where they find occasional moments of comfort.  Not everyone has the stomach for it.  Not everyone can apply that kind of tough love.

But we got her there, and the facility (a private one), returned her to normal.  So normal, in fact, that after a few months of having my mother back, she went off the meds, thinking she didn’t need them anymore.

Thus began the cycle: commitment, normalcy, go off meds, commitment.  My dad handled the court stuff.  I never saw how difficult that was.  But I know it was very nearly a full-time job for him.  You can’t just say, “Hey, this person’s gone bonkers again, can I just drop them off at the mental hospital?”  It doesn’t work that way.

Private insurance wouldn’t cover the expensive private facility after so many go-rounds, so it was off to the state’s.  And she was never right after that.  Never.  They’d return her to something approaching sane and eject her before her medications were fully adjusted.  The state facility wasn’t an institutional horror, but it was a dim, depressing little place filled with desperate people who also would never be right.  She hated it there.  She’d beg to come home.  And when she came home, she wasn’t my mother and never would be again.  She’d gone off her meds too often, for one, and for another, the doctors there weren’t as good.  They were underfunded and overworked and they did their best, but they could only do so much.

They kept her alive, and that’s something.  But the state of Arizona just patches you up.  They don’t do all it takes to fix you.  And this was back in the halcyon days, before they cut the funding by 37%, and told all of the people who couldn’t afford mental health care but were too rich for Medicaid to fuck off.  Here’s what Arizona’s doing now:

To fill a $1 billion hole in its 2011 budget, Arizona slashed this year’s budget for mental health services by $36 million — a 37 percent cut. As a result, advocates say 3,800 people who do not qualify for Medicaid are at risk of losing services such as counseling and employment preparation. In addition, more than 12,000 adults and 2,000 children will no longer receive the name-brand medications they take to keep their illnesses in check. Other services such as supportive housing and transportation to doctor’s appointments also will be eliminated.

Let me tell you about something about people who can’t get their meds and can’t get to their appointments: they’re condemned to hell.  A worse hell than my mother ever faced.  At least the state always made sure she had a place to go when she was too crazy to survive on her own.  At least they gave her a refuge when she was suicidal, and provided her medications that, while they didn’t set her completely right, at least gave her some sanity back.  She didn’t have to hear voices telling her awful things would happen to her family if she didn’t kill herself.  She didn’t have to believe her only option was suicide.  They saved her, over and over again, and now, if she were there, they wouldn’t.  Not if we had it to do over again.  Instead of her divorcing my dad because she’d concluded he was the root of all her problems, he’d probably have had to divorce her in order to leave her poor enough to qualify for care, once the insurance ran out.  And it would have killed him, because he is an honorable man who didn’t abandon her, not when she went nuts and not when she left him for another man, but would occasionally come back to him for help because he was the only one who knew what to do when the voices returned.

Now imagine trying to do this.  Imagine trying to navigate this morass of mental health law.  Imagine trying to get authorities to understand that a very odd man is a deathly danger, when he hasn’t done a damned thing other than freak people out.  Imagine trying to get that man help, when you’re afraid of him, when you don’t know how to navigate this morass, can’t get anyone to take it seriously, and can’t convince the person in question to get help, and even if you could, who’s gonna provide it, with budgets slashed so severely?

If you walk out on an Arizona street and say, “Title 36, who knows what that is?” how many hands do you think will go up?  If you ask for volunteers to get a man picked up for possible insanity, who do you think will take that step, knowing they could be wrong, knowing that man may blame them, hate them, for what they’ve done?  How many of us really feel comfortable enough judging another person’s sanity to make that call?

It is not so simple, WaPo, even with a law on the books.  First, you have to know there’s a problem, and that this problem is severe enough to report to the authorities.  Then, there has to be a court system willing to get treatment for those refusing it, and a mental health care system well-funded enough to provide said treatment.  None of those things is assured in the great state of Arizona.  Few places in America will do all in their power to heal broken minds.  

And you, WaPo, have no idea how desperately hard it is.  You’ve never been there.  You’ve never walked in the shoes.  So don’t tell us a phone call would have done it.  There was too much: the deterioration of Arizona’s health care system, the easy access to guns, the relentless drumbeat of eliminationism, the stigma of being branded mentally ill in a wild west state, and the simple fact that things this complex care rarely be prevented by picking up the phone.

Especially when the people on the other end of it don’t have the funding to take you seriously.

Handy Reference Guide to Biblical Rape Laws

For those who like to take their religion literally, here’s an easy-to-use reference guide:

Lessee… had we been following those guidelines, I do believe I would’ve been married.  Believe me when I say that given the choice between that and stoning, I would have been handing out rocks.

This is one of the reasons I despise fundamentalists.  They don’t think the world has changed since Bronze Age goatherders went on a killing spree.  Oh, some of them say Jesus came and gave us a new, kinder law – then try to tell us the Ten Commandments et al are still in force.  And they somehow conveniently forget the violent bits of the New Testament when telling us how wonderful and gentle Jesus was.  And they enjoy endorsing Paul’s misogynistic bullshit far too much.

Building a modern civilization on Biblical foundations makes about as much sense as licensing only psychopaths as child care providers.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to whoever posted this on Twitter.  Alas, I cannot remember who it was!)

Why I Won’t Own a Kindle

No matter what my stepmother says about how awesome it is, a Kindle will not darken my door until certain issues are resolved.  Namely (h/t):

Having learned all this, I went along and had a closer look at the current Kindle License Agreement. There is some simply petrifying stuff on there. For starters, you don’t “own” Kindle books, you’re basically renting them.

Unless otherwise specified, Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.

They can change the software on you whenever they like:

Automatic Updates. In order to keep your Software up-to-date, Amazon may automatically provide your Kindle or Other Device with updates/upgrades to the Software.

That is how a totalitarian state would go about confiscating books, if they wanted to. There is nothing in this agreement to stop Amazon from modifying the Kindle software to make it impossible for you to read any of your own files on the device. Such a step is not actually forbidden to them by this agreement; they are under no obligation to protect any data you might be storing on there. That’s not to say that there aren’t laws at least in some states that might allow you to sue for damages; I’m just saying, there isn’t any promise made by Amazon to protect your data or preserve its readability.
They can also change the terms of the deal or simply shut down Kindle service entirely, anytime they like:

Changes to Service. We may modify, suspend, or discontinue the Service, in whole or in part, at any time.

Or they might decide to shut your account down:

Termination. Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate if you fail to comply with any term of this Agreement. In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Software, and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Service or to Digital Content without refund of any fees. Amazon’s failure to insist upon or enforce your strict compliance with this Agreement will not constitute a waiver of any of its rights.

Keep in mind these are your books that you bought or collected. Can you imagine a bookseller or publisher asserting rights over the contents of your bookshelves in your house? That’s basically what we’re talking about, here. 

There’s much more at the link.  Sticking with paper, thank you so very much, at least until giving money to an enterprise for a book means I get to keep the damned thing no matter what.

England’s Libel Law is Liable to Bite Yer Arse

So do what Simon Singh says and sign the petition to reform it:

This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.
The English libel law is particular dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.

You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.

The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition at

Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.

If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.

We must speak out to defend free speech. Please sign the petition for libel reform at

Please sign and pass it along.


Excuse the shouting there, but it’s so nice to know that we here in the States can call a spade a spade without considering how much our bank account converts to in pounds sterling (although I guess it’s Euros now, innit?):

American authors, journalists, and bloggers can breathe a sigh of relief: with broad bipartisan support, a short time ago President Obama signed a bill into law that makes sure that the awful and regressive libel laws in the UK cannot be enforced here in the United States.

Huzzah!  Now all we have to deal with are the ridiculous SLAPPs from butt-hurt woomeisters.  Which is a breeze compared to defending against a libel charge in Britain.

I have only one thing to say to the dumbshits who hoped Britain’s noxious laws would save them from good ol’ American dickishness: