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Cliven Bundy Wants To Tell You All About 'The Negro'

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A few days ago Jonathan Chait asserted that modern conservatism is "doomed" because it is "rooted in white supremacy."  The first claim may or may not be true, but there's little doubt about the second. Whether it's the Senate minority leader claiming that America should have remained legally segregated,  a beloved cultural figure fondly recalling how happy black people were living under lynch law, a presidential candidate calling Barack Obama a "food-stamp president" or a campaign surrogate calling Barack Obama "a subhuman mongrel," the preponderance of evidence shows that modern conservatism just can't quit white supremacy.

This is unsurprising. White Supremacy is one of the most dominant forces in the history of American politics. In a democracy, it would be silly to expect it to go unexpressed. Thus anyone with a sense of American history should be equally unsurprised to discover that rugged individualist Cliven Bundy is the bearer of some very interesting theories:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Prick a movement built on white supremacy and it bleeds....white supremacy. That said, I think it's always worth clarifying what we mean when we use words like "slavery" and "freedom" in an American context.

I took a flight to L.A. last night and brought with me Thavolia Glymph's bruising monograph Out Of The House of Bondage. Glymph is mostly concerned with the plantation house as a work-space during enslavement, and thus the scene of horrendous violence primarily dished out by "ladies of the house."

In general, a silence surrounds white women's contributions to the basic nature of slavery, its maintenance, and, especially, one of its central tendencies, the maiming and destruction of black life.

The maiming and destruction of black life. This is key. What Glymph is discussing is not merely the theft of labor, but the total plunder of the human body. Slavery is torture as a system of governance, corporal destruction taken as the mere cost of doing business.  

Here are a few additions, courtesy of Glymph, to your morning reading.

Item: Enslaved woman Mandy Cooper was not quick enough churning milk, and thus her mistress had no butter to serve her party along with the conrbread and biscuits. Cooper's mistress and her two guests--all women--then set upon Moore and "beat me from angah." Moore's mistress grabbed a heavy board. Another friend grabbed a whip.

Item: Enslaved woman Alice Shaw was given the task of fanning flies and clearing the dinner table. When she dropped a dish, her mistress "beat her on head."

Item: Clara Young did not always respond quickly enough to her mistress's summons. Her mistress lifted her dress and beat her.
 
Item: Lila Nichols failed to gather enough eggs. She was beaten by her mistress. This same mistress later set upon an enslaved woman whom she suspected of poisoning her, "leaving her back 'in gashes.' She then ordered the slave woman chained until she had recovered sufficiently enough to be sold."
 
Item: Delia Garlic was responsible for nursing and caring for her mistress' baby. "One day I was playin' wid de baby," she reported. "It hurt its li'l han' an' commenced to cry, an' [my mistress] whirl on me, pick up a hot iron an' run it all down my arm an' han'. It took off de flesh when she done it."
 
Item: "Slaves was punished by whip and starving," reported freedwoman Harriet Robinson. "Master Sam didn't never whip me but Miss Julia whipped me everyday in the morning. During the war she beat me terrible. She say 'Your master's out fighting and losing blood trying to save you from the Yankees, so you kin get your'n here.'" 
 
The idea that Robinson's master was fighting on behalf of the slaves is both rich and telling.  Mostly it shows that Cliven Bundy's theories are not original, but inherited. 
 
Enslaved black people were, with some regularity, beat with cowhide whips, tongs, pokers, chairs and wooden boards. Nails were driven through their palms, pins through their tongues. Eyes were gouged out for the smallest offense.
 
When people like Cliven Bundy assert the primacy of the past it is important that we do not recount it selectively. American enslavement is the destruction of the black body for profit. That is the past that Cliven Bundy believes "the Negro" to have been better off in. He is, regrettably, not alone.







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grammargirl
1 hour ago
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Has anyone else noticed that Newsblur has a hard time with rendering font size, specifically for The Atlantic? I don't think I've noticed it for any other pub, but I always have to click through to read TNC.
Brooklyn, NY
smadin
2 hours ago
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Coates on Bundy is obviously something you want to read.
Boston
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adamlcox
1 hour ago
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Coates nails this, which should surprise no one.

man there's probably pizza there too. man. maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

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April 23rd, 2014next

April 23rd, 2014: Guys, The Midas Flesh #5 comes out today! AHHH. It's the comic I'm writing about oh I don't know KING MIDAS IN SPACE WITH DINOSAURS and this issue is a big one. You can read a preview here! And you can pick the book up at your local comic book shop, or download a digital version instead (/ ALSO??)

Check it out!

One year ago today: some days you write the comics and some days the comics write you

– Ryan

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glenniebun
18 hours ago
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I hope I don't get lost on my way to the Friend Zone and wind up in the Phantom Zone.
CT USA
mjunker
1 day ago
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The friend zone sounds awesome.
iaravps
1 day ago
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title-text: "wait, there's a maze at the exit?? THERE'S A MAZE?? THAT'S AMAZING, I'D HEARD THE FRIEND ZONE WAS HARD TO GET OUT OF BUT I NEVER DREAMED IT'D BE FOR SUCH AN AWESOME REASON"
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

The Rules of Gender-Variant Chivalry

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chivalryAn asexual must always open the door for a pansexual.

Trans* men must always assist genderqueers with their luggage if there are no airport personnel available to help.

A high femme must do battle for any androsexual in peril from dragon or Frenchman.

The traditional age for taking up the sigil of gender anarchy and door-opening is seventeen, after four years of apprenticeship under a non-monogendered Master.

Heterosexual cisgender men are the daintiest treasure of all in Gender-Variant Chivalry. They must be delicately swaddled in linens and samite and carefully carried from castle to castle.

All soft butches must be trained in the use of the quarterstaff in close-quarters combat.

Trans* women wear pointy princess hats and feed the poor and lean out of windows calling for bold knights to do brave deeds, unless they don’t feel like it, in which case they can do something else.

Drag kings must swear before their people to protect the weak and defenseless, to give succour to widowers and orphans, to refrain from the wanton giving of offense, to live by honor and for glory, and to perform one Tom Jones song a month.

A queer boi must always stand whenever a bisexual enters the room.

Lipstick lesbians should offer their seat on public transportation to any polyamorous triads.

Every fortnight, all practitioners of Gender-Variant Chivalry must switch roles and identity with whatever knight stands nearest to them.

Read more The Rules of Gender-Variant Chivalry at The Toast.

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Courtney
1 day ago
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Any androsexuals in danger from Frenchmen, holler.
Boston, MA
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annberends
2 days ago
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It's about time someone codified these rules.
USA

Copyright is Out of Control

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I have written about patent and copyright law primarily from the perspective ofan economist interested in the institutions and incentives that maximize innovation. As a textbook author, however, I must deal with copyright law in practice. Dealing with copyright law on the ground hasn’t caused me to change my views but it has made me more frustrated. I have also come to appreciate some of the subtler more subtle costs of the system. Two cases in point.

A lot of textbooks hire a photo editor to pick generic stock photos, this simplifies things because the bundlers pre-authorize permissions and prices. But we hand picked every photo in our book to illustrate a point which means that our permissions and legal staff often have to find owners and clear permissions on an individual basis. We are grateful that our publisher is willing to do this to produce a quality product but it sometimes leads to absurdities. For example, the publisher doesn’t like to use public domain images. Why not? What could be better than free? The problem is that the bundlers insulate a publisher from lawsuits but when we use a public domain image the publisher is open to lawsuit if a mistake has been made and that makes them fearful.

The general lesson is that strong IP shrinks the public domain not just because it keeps things out of the public domain but also because it makes the public domain appear to be uncertain and dangerous. It’s as if clean, mountain spring water were freely available but people bought from the bottlers instead out of fear of contamination.

Copyright law is one of the forces behind the rise of the mega-bundlers. Mega-bundlers benefit from economies of scale in cataloging IP but there are also economies of scale in dealing with the legal system and insuring against/for lawsuit. It’s probably no accident that two of the largest bundlers, Corbis and Getty, are owned by Bill Gates and (Getty heir), Mark Getty respectively. (FYI, Piketty should have said more about this kind of 21st century rentier in Capital).

Here is another example. To illustrate the point that, contrary to what is often argued, a rich person might get more from another dollar than a poor person we have in Modern Principles a movie still of Scrooge McDuck swimming in money. We think the image speaks for itself but apparentlythatis a problem. The rights to thephoto are–we are told–not the same as the rights to the characters shown within the photo. Thus, even though we have bought and paid for the right to print the photo, to ensure that the use of the characters within the photo falls under fair use we must discuss, comment on and critique the content of the photo in the text.

The distinction between the photo IP and the what’s in the photoIP is one only a lawyer could appreciate, as is the solution. And I mean that without irony. I am not critiquing our publisher or their lawyers. Bear in mind that this is coming to us from the very highest legal counsel of a multi-billion dollar firm. Thus, I do not doubt that the dangers are real and the legal analysis acute. The problem is copyright law itself.

The episode illustrates more generally how the complexity of copyright law has greatly elevated the power of lawyers. It’s no accident that thepermissions director is one of the few people at our publisher whose signature is absolutely necessary before our book, or any book, can be published.

I am reminded of Mancur Olson’s 9th implication in The Rise and Decline of Nations:

The accumulation of distributional coalitions increases the complexity of regulation, the role of government, and the complexity of understandings, and changes the direction of social evolution.

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mareino
3 hours ago
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The economic rent is too damn high!
Washington, District of Columbia
infogulch
1 day ago
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Coming from a textbook author........
Missouri
digdoug
1 day ago
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Lawyers. Man.
Louisville, KY
cpm
1 day ago
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!
Chicago, USA

"I once told a joke about a straight person. They came after me in droves. Each one singing the..."

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I once told a joke about a straight person.

They came after me in droves.

Each one singing the same:

Don’t fight fire with fire.

*

What they mean is: Don’t fight fire with anything.

Do not fight fire with water.

Do not fight fire with foam.

Do not evacuate the people.

Do not sound the alarms.

Do not crawl coughing and choking and spluttering to safety.

Do not barricade the door with damp towels.

Do not wave a white flag out of the window.

Do not take the plunge from several storeys up.

Do not shed a tear for your lover trapped behind a wall of flame.

Do not curse the combination of fuel, heat, and oxygen.

Do not ask why the fire fighters are not coming.

*

When they say: Don’t fight fire with fire.

What they mean is: Stand and burn.



- Stand and Burn by Claudia Boleyn.  (via claudiaboleyn)
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ryanbrazell
1 day ago
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//
Fredericksburg, VA
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squinky
1 day ago
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Given that today was speaker eval day, in which I was accused repeatedly of being too angry, this here is on point.
Santa Cruz, CA

Free Speech

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I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
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grammargirl
5 days ago
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Yup.
Brooklyn, NY
satadru
6 days ago
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It's dawning on me that wikipedia needs Tl;DR links pointing to the relevant xkcd pages.
New York, NY
ChrisDL
6 days ago
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You haven't lived until you've shared an XKCD online
New York
etiberius
6 days ago
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This
ÜT: 33.997032,-86.035736
wreichard
6 days ago
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+50,000
Earth
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tewhalen
5 days ago
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Wikipedia: "The Citizens' Councils used economic tactics against African Americans whom they considered as supportive of desegregation and voting rights, or for belonging to the NAACP; the tactics included 'calling in' their mortgages, denying loans and business credit, and boycotting black-owned businesses. In some cities, the Councils published lists of names of NAACP supporters and signers of anti-segregation petitions in local newspapers in order to encourage economic retaliation. For instance, in Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1955, the Citizens' Council arranged for the names of 53 signers of a petition for school integration to appear in a local paper. Soon afterward, the petitioners lost their jobs and had their credit cut off." -- Apparently, no free speech rights were violated.
chicago, il
stefanetal
6 days ago
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This strikes me as an 'argument from definition'. But the definition itself is contested. Lot of rights don't work this way, for instance there are non-retaliation laws asociated with many rights (especially in labor law -- say the right to marry includes the right, for the most part, not to get fired for getting married).
tewhalen
5 days ago
Like, remember this comic when your supervisor shows up to your cubicle and asks you to donate to the "Conservative Victory Fund PAC" or lose your job. At least you'll have the comfort of knowing your free speech rights weren't violated.
chrisamico
6 days ago
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I'd love to post this at the end of every news site's comments policy.
Cambridge, MA
diannemharris
6 days ago
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I have to save this for future postings, everywhere
sfringer
6 days ago
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Couldn't be better stated on free speech...
North Carolina USA
neilcar
6 days ago
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Eventually, XKCD will be the answer for every ridiculous argument.
Charlotte, North Carolina
karmakaze
6 days ago
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Alt text: I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
07974
darastar
6 days ago
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THIS X1000
ktgeek
6 days ago
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Yet another xkcd that will be reposted and reposted until the sun burns out.
Bartlett, IL
Michdevilish
6 days ago
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Free to leave
Canada
JayM
6 days ago
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.
Shenandoah Valley, VA
Askew
6 days ago
...
aaronwe
6 days ago
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There should be a "BUT FREE SPEECH!" corollary to Godwin's Law.
Sioux City, Iowa
mindspillage
6 days ago
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This was basically designed to be passive-aggressively linked to in mailing lists/forums/IRC...
Mountain View, California
stavrosg
6 days ago
I can't count how many times this would have been useful in the past...
jtgrimes
6 days ago
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Alt text: I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
Oakland, CA
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