Nicknames can be good or bad. Or they can describe exactly what kind of person you are.
Nicknames can be good or bad. Or they can describe exactly what kind of person you are.
“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”
~Rudyard Kipling, Gunga Din
With apologies to Kipling, the need to describe the word “mad” has come up as of late.
When I was a boy, my mother said something to me. “People don’t get mad. Dogs get mad. People get angry.” My mother is very well versed in the structure and word usage of English, and she is quite Victorian in her tastes, though from time to time when she does become quite angry, the Scottish in our family starts to come out. But she’s got a very valid point regarding the word “mad”.
Mad is a word that has a connection to insanity. And thanks to Kipling’s Gunga Din, the word can be equated to dogs. Mad, or madness, equals insanity or rabid, as in what a dog goes through when inflicted with rabies.
And I’ve heard the word used in media outlets to describe the protestors in Ferguson and other areas of the States, if not in different parts of the world. “Protestors are mad” some news reports say, and by doing so, they underline their own feelings about those who are protesting their for their rights to be recognized and for their lives to matter. By equating those protestors with the word “mad”, media outlets are doing their best to have viewers who aren’t directly affected by the events in Ferguson to think of those protestors in one light.
Insane. Inhuman. Mad. Dogs.
Darren Wilson, the officer who murdered teenager Mike Brown, has already helped dehumanize Brown by calling him “it” and describing him as demonic. Which is a tradition used by those who ally themselves with extremist groups like the Klu Klux Klan. They enjoy hearing the word “mad” to be used against the protestors, because the word itself dehumanizes them. The mostly black protestors are, in their opinion, insane. Inhuman. No better than dogs.
The protestors are angry. They’re frustrated. And they’re furious. But they aren’t mad. Their reaction to the killing of Mike Brown, along with the killing of other black youth by police officers around the States (along with the assaults committed by the police against, essentially, children), is not something irrational. It’s not something insane. It is completely justifiable. These are people fed up with the justice system that gives huge breaks to white people who break the law by murdering a black person (or other person of colour). They are frustrated by a system that vilifies black teens who have been killed, who are victims of crime often committed by white men in authority, yet white criminals who kill numerous people in a shooting rampage are called quiet, an honourable student, and given the boy next door treatment.
The use of such words is coded language, make no mistake of that. Calling the predominantly black protestors mad is not by accident. It’s not even the “new” use of English. It’s coded language to call them insane. It’s coded language to dehumanize them, just as language has been used to dehumanize black and brown people for hundreds of years.
Of mad dogs and Englishmen indeed.
A lot of Canadians right now are looking at Ferguson and saying “thank God that doesn’t happen here”. Stop saying that right now. Because, in this country, we’ve got a history that may not involve African Canadians, but there is another group which does have a history of such conflicts. And it dates back to before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
In more recent history, First Nations people in Canada have had clashes with the police as they protest to demand the same rights that every other Canadian has.
The Oka Crisis
Beginning July 11, 1990, a 78 day armed standoff took place near the town of Oka, Quebec. Between Mohawk residents of Kanesatake, the Quebec provincial police, and the Canadian Armed Forces, Mohawk leaders demanded that developers stop a planned expansion of a golf course on land that had been disputed for over 300 years. Deemed a sacred burial ground, Mohawk people began with peaceful barricades which were met with armed police and soldiers.
The Innu occupation and blockade of the Canadian Air Force/NATO base at Goose Bay, Labrador
Largely started by Innu women to challenge the further dispossession of their territories and the destruction of their land-based way of life by the military industrial complex’s encroachment onto the Innu peoples’ homeland of Nitassinan.
The Lubicon Cree struggle against oil and gas development on their traditional territories in present day Alberta
The Lubicon Cree have been struggling to protect a way of life threatened by intensified capitalist development on their homelands since at least 1939. Over the years, the community has engaged in a number of very public protests to get their message across, including a well-publicized boycott of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and the associated Glenbow Museum exhibit, The Spirit Sings.
First Nations blockades in British Columbia
Throughout the 1980s, First Nations in B.C. grew extremely frustrated with the painfully slow pace of the federal government’s comprehensive land claims process and the province’s racist refusal to recognize Aboriginal title within its its borders. The result was a decade’s worth of very disruptive blockades, which at its height in 1990 were such a common occurrence that Vancouver newspapers felt the need to publish traffic advisories identifying delays caused by First Nation roadblocks in the province’s interior. Many of the blockades were able to halt resource extraction on Native land for protracted periods of time.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake
By 1989, the Algonquins of Barrier Lake were embroiled in a struggle to stop clear-cut logging within their traditional territories in present day Quebec because these practices threatened their land and way of life. Under the leadership of customary chief, Jean-Maurice Matchewan, the community used blockades to successfully impede clear-cutting activities affecting their community.
The Temagami First Nation blockades of 1988 and 1989 in present-day Ontario.
The Temagami blockades were set up to protect their nation’s homeland from further encroachment by non-Native development. The blockades of 1988-89 were the most recent assertions of Temagami sovereignty in over a century-long struggle to protect the community’s right to land and freedom from colonial settlement and development.
To the more recent activities of the Idle No More protests, First Nations people in Canada have been met by armed police and military walls. Go back further to 1885 when Louis Riel organized First Nation and Metis people against the federal government when land settled and farmed by Metis settlers was being taken away for the more European settlers the federal government was trying to get in the territory which would eventually become the Province of Saskatchewan. Or years earlier, when Riel began his organized protests that helped usher in the Province of Manitoba.
We live in a country where Aboriginal women don’t grow up with the fear of if they are ever raped but when they are. Aboriginal women suffer and massively disproportionate amount of violence, with the largest perpetrator of that violence being white men. Called a silent genocide, Aboriginal women suffer the most of any violence that is inflicted against First Nation people.
Don’t get me wrong, we have a problem with an anti-black attitude in Canada as well. Alberta has a high number of organized KKK. In 1991, Leo Lachance was shot and killed by Carly Nerland outside a pawn shop in Prince Albert. Nerland, a member of the KKK and lead of the Saskatchewan branch of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian Aryan Nation. There have been white supremest groups in Canada identified with names like Heritage Front and Final Solution.
Almost one hundred years ago, in 1919 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Halifax Race Riots began as a group of drunk men with nothing better to do, and ended up with a two day charge of destruction. The targets were mostly Chinese, Jewish, and black owned businesses. Decades later in 1991, a similar event would happen as young black men believed they were targeted by a white bouncer who would not allow them to enter a night club in Halifax.
So we have this problem in Canada. The main difference being it doesn’t happen as often. But it does happen. It may not be as extensive as what is going on in Ferguson right now, but it does happen. We’re on the cusp of something like Ferguson happening in this country with First Nation people. They have been frustrated ever since the Meeche Lake Accords excluded Aboriginal people. They have been frustrated with the lack of protection and the lack of interest in solving the disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women. There is also the racially charged attacks against those people who are identified as being of Middle Eastern ancestry. Ever since 911, these attacks, whether considered verbal or physical, have happened in this country.
So do not look at Ferguson and say “thank God that doesn’t happen here”, because we’re not without blame for our own misgivings.
GamerGate has become a monstrous thing. It says it is a attempting to clean up corruption in journalism. If that was the case, one of their biggest targets should be Fox News. On the face of it, cleaning up journalism and forcing it to be fair and balanced is a good thing. But in all honesty, GamerGate really doesn’t have a firm or solid philosophy.
At it’s birth, it began as one guy whining about his ex-girlfriend, who just happened to be making a video game. He whined so much, he wrote a 10,000 word rant (which is a really big waste of time). With that kind of energy, he could have used that to make a really awesome first draft of a novella, but no, he used it to complain that his ex-girlfriend cheated on him.
From there, it went into something else, as members of this “movement” attempted to give it solid ground. GamerGate is against corrupt journalism. But what they view as being corrupt is opinionated reviews of video games. Which is impossible to make a review of a video game without being opinionated. The reviewer plays the game, the reviewer has an opinion on everything in that game from story, to graphics, to game play, and even box art if he or she so chooses. That’s how a review goes. If you disagree with the review, that’s fine. No one’s saying you’re stupid (or they shouldn’t) because you find a review that doesn’t match with your feelings on a game (or movie). Hell, there’s games and movies I loved playing that reviewers tanked on.
GamerGate has recently said they are anti-harassment. Again, this is fine on the surface. But many of the more outspoken members of this movement also happen to be serial harassers. Several have targeted known feminist and pop culture reviewer Anita Sarkeesian. They have done so with death threats and rape threats. And she’s not alone. Some of the more outspoken members of this “movement” have gone on to make parody video games where Anita is beaten bloody. I use parody with tongue in cheek. And it’s constant harassment. If GamerGate is so against harassment, why isn’t it, as a “movement”, attempting to filter out these negative elements and moving away from them.
But GamerGate has allied themselves (or has received alliance from) some major Men’s Right Activists. Some of whom are outspoken haters of reviewers like Sarkeesian.
If GamerGate does anything, it’ll be to make mainstream media take several awkward steps away from the video game industry. Throwing it back into the stone age of media and ignoring it completely. GamerGate has accomplished to make themselves look like right wing extreme radicals who want education stripped away from women (the Taliban), who want the rights of women’s health scrutinized by legislative law (several right wing legislatures in the United States), and close off equal opportunity to everyone (many States which have but a ban on gay marriage or made it impossible for trans*gender people to get jobs or living accomodations).
There’s going to be those who will say comparing GamerGate to the Taliban is extreme. Normally, I would agree, but one GamerGate individual has already proven that comparison is dead on. Of course, it could also be compared to the Montreal massacre at Ecole Polytechnique in the late 80s. A message was sent to USU which stated “Feminists have ruined my life, and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all others they’ve wronged”. It was signed Marc Lepine, who is ironically, the name of the individual who killed a number of women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. One individual, basically a murdering psychopath. But GamerGate has a whole host who have proven they are ready, willing, and able to issue death threats, rape threats, to dox, to form hate filled diatribes of women, and blame it all on some fantasy called misandry (which DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST!). So I think the comparison of GamerGate champions to the Taliban is pretty dead on.
I do apologize if the comparison has triggered anyone who has actually been affected by the Taliban, as they as a group have committed atrocious acts of violence, have committed acts of rape and murder, and have used their version of ideals to commit crimes in the name of God. Those who have felt the effects of the Taliban, and other organizations like them, I do apologize because your suffering is very real, and we should take care when mentioning it.
But GamerGate, you’re on the cusp of becoming that. You are driving people from their homes with real fears that you will enact violence on them. You are very close to becoming a terrorist organization, leaderless or not. You, GamerGate, are a new brand of evil.
This morning as I woke, at 5:30, I checked the weather app on my phone. It read 4 degrees Celsius. Which means overnight it could very well have hit zero. This is technically still summer.
But the darkness and the impending cooler weather says otherwise.
Just two days ago, the temperature got up to 26 Celsius. It was hot. Not a wickedly stifling hot, but a nice hot that you can relax in outside in the shade. The next day began with a temperature of 7. I think it only reached 10. Summer is not over yet. It doesn’t technically arrive until the 21st of September. I’m not backing down on that one at all.
The days are growing increasingly shorter as well. This morning was a little bit harder to get out of bed. I managed, even with it being dark outside at 5:30. A month ago, while I was enjoying my two weeks off, the sun was shining at 5:30. Although, I’d merely get up to use the bathroom, then immediately crawl back into bed. That’s what one does when on holidays. Now, back at work, the weather has taken a turn from the pleasurable warmth to something a tad more cooler.
On the different social media networks there’s already discussions of what to do for Halloween. Which is over a month away. I shouldn’t be too surprised, after all Christmas is celebrated with such vim and vigor in the preceding weeks before the December 25th arrival.
But I’m standing firm. Until the 21st arrives, it’s still summer. I don’t care if I have to wear a sweater, it’s still summer.
This came across my Tumblr dashboard, thanks to ealperin for posting it.
feel free to add in any links!