The prophetic message is radical, not liberal,” he says. “To me, that left/right continuum is a complete fabrication. The true axis is up and down—it’s about who has power.

Also in the Texas Observer right now: Robyn Ross has some outstanding reporting on the Christian Left in Texas — why it’s not as powerful as it should be, and why and how Christianity and conservative politics became so intertwined. 

I know for some friends of mine, the existence of a Christian Left actually sounds like a myth, and they’ll be eager to poke holes in it — but this isn’t even as simple as “Christians who are mostly shitty, but also anti-death penalty” or “people who say they’re Christian but think that being gay is okay.” It’s a fundamental difference in how they interpret the core lessons of Christianity, and it’s much more interesting and complicated question than our current politics frame it. 

Nate Thayer: A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist


After a brief phone call where no specifics were really discussed, and she requested I email her:

Hi Olga: What did you have in mind for length, storyline, deadline, and fees for the basketball  diplomacy piece. Or any other specifics. I think we can work something out, but I want to make sure I have the time to do it properly to meet your deadline, so give me a shout back when you have the earliest chance.


Nate Thayer

From the Atlantic:

Thanks for responding. Maybe by the end of the week? 1,200 words? We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month.

I’ve had similar experiences (as, I’m sure, has every freelance journalist working in 2013), but the fact that this shit happens even when you’ve got the credentials that Nate Thayer has makes me want to fart blood.

Reblogged from whopays

The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.

Every part of this New York Times story about the research being done to document the shocking number of camps/ghettos/slave labor sites/etc in Nazi Germany is fascinating and awful, of course. 

But let’s take just a moment, once again, to notice that even when we are talking about people held in camps by the fucking Nazis, we still seem to dance around using the word “rape.” Were the women raped by German military personnel in these brothels? Nah, they were coerced into having sex

When you realize that we can’t even use the word “rape” to describe what was done to the women that the Nazis kept in sexual slavery during World War II, you maybe — once again — know some of what the term “rape culture” refers to. 

Specifically, in this case: It refers to a culture that facilitates the act of rape by enforcing penalties for talking about it. When we can’t even call the rape of the women kept as sex slaves by the Nazis what it is, we make it much harder for people who are alive today to be taken seriously when they use that word. 

"Little Q" and Mrs. Carter

I know that the Oscars were two days ago, so we’re all super sick of talking about Quvenzhané Wallis and Seth Macfarlane and the red carpet reporters and the goddamn Onion and all of that, but something did occur to me as the discourse has continued.

I have friends — people whose opinions I respect a lot — who had some less-than-enthusiastic responses to Beyonce for calling her forthcoming tour the “Mrs. Carter Show.” And I understood why they bristled at it.

But thinking about the shit that Quvenzhané Wallis got on Sunday gave me a little bit of perspective on “Mrs. Carter.” Because she is a nine year old girl; she has an uncommon name; people whose job is to report about people who have been nominated for Oscars have chosen to call her everything from “Little Q” to “Annie” in lieu of actually learning how to say her damn name properly (kwuh-ven-juh-nay will get you pretty close); she was disrespected by a horde of white grown-ups all day right there on television; and, I don’t expect it’s unfair to extrapolate, she’ll probably be disrespected by other people, on television and off, in ways both subtle and overt, for years to come.

We’ve been having a public debate for two days whether it’s appropriate to make jokes where part of the punchline involves calling a nine-year-old girl a cunt. We’ve been arguing whether it’s playing the race card or something to ask why countless reporters can’t be bothered to call a little girl by her actual name. We’ve had to decide whether a joke from the host of the fucking Oscars that sexualizes that nine-year-old is appropriate or not. 

I’m not going to argue any of that stuff. There are plenty of smart people on the Internet who’ve done that. But it does cast “Mrs. Carter” in a new light. 

Because we’ve seen over the past few days about how a whole bunch of important people feel it’s okay to talk about black girls, to their faces or behind their backs or wherever else. We’ve seen a big public debate about how much disrespect is okay to throw in the face of a little black girl. So by the time you’re Beyonce’s age, in Beyonce’s position, with Beyonce’s power? 

I get why you might want to go on tour and make damn sure that everybody knows to call you “Mrs. Carter.” 

Yeah, she could have been “Ms. Knowles.” But watching the way we’ve treated Quvenzhané Wallis over the past couple days makes me think that, if you’re a black woman who’s been in the public spotlight since you were a teenager, and you’re finally in a position to dictate what people can call you, it can be any damn name you want.

Death Threats

by Charlie Daniels Death Wish
album The Siren Song Called Us Home

150 Favorite Songs: #72, “Death Threats,” Charlie Daniels Death Wish (2000)
You’ve never heard this song. Not unless you lived in the Rio Grande Valley sometime between 1999-2001, and even then, only if you went to shows at Trenton Point. So go ahead, click “play” and listen for the first time.

This was the first song that friends of mine wrote that validated, for me, what DIY and punk rock and making your own culture meant. There were other songs I loved that my friends had written, but I loved those songs because my friends had written them. “Death Threats,” though, I loved because it sounds fucking incredible. I love the first half, when it’s a creepy ballad, with a leaky organ and hollow drums and ringing guitars setting a mood that makes the whispered croon about how “I know how your hair gently crests around your head / defining its beauty / tension like moths in its mouth” seem inevitable. I love the choruses when the organ drops out and the atmosphere stops sweeping across with the wall-of-sound guitars, and Donner sings about “And I keep my promise / safe with me.” 

And then I love the payoff, when the song stops being about creepiness and tension and setting a mood, and the thing just fucking explodes. A half decade of screamo andall that followed in the early 00’s might threaten to make the sung-to-screamed approach to songs seem like a cheap novelty, but what I love about “Death Threats” is that, even with all of that perspective, it still doesn’t sound like that, because it earns its explosion. This isn’t “Hey, check it out, we’ve listened to a couple hardcore records” showiness — it’s a bridge between the haunting atmosphere of bands like Joy Division and the early Cure and the outright menace you get from big Tony Iommi guitar riffs, or from the ferocity of Pantera. It’s a big emotional swing, yeah, but it also follows a through-line. 

"Death Threats" earns everything it puts out there. I remember hearing this song thirteen goddamn years ago now (holy shit, time is crazy) and all of that is still true. I love my spooky songs and mood-setters and tension-builders, and I love "Death Threats" because it was written by friends of mine who knew that all of that stuff could be truly amazing if, after you built all that tension, you released it as aggressively as possible. That’s something that the bands who didn’t live their brief lives down at a reception hall in the southernmost part of South Texas never figured out. I was, and still am, really proud to know that in these small places, my friends knew things that were hard to learn. 

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