“Stupid” Is Not An Insult

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Today is World Down Syndrome Day. Today, people will be wearing blue and yellow together, and sporting mismatched socks, and standing in solidarity with people who have Down Syndrome. Today, people will be showing support for a group of people who are constantly told that their potential is defined by their diagnoses…

Today I am wearing black and grey, like I do most of the time. My socks don’t match, but they never do. Today, instead of making an Instagram-able gesture, I’m choosing to challenge the casual ableism within mainstream discourse. Today, I’m choosing to speak about the way many of us use intellectual and developmental disabilities as insults.

Like most of you, I was raised to believe that my value in this world was dependent on my intellect. I was taught that the worst thing I could be as a woman, as a person, was stupid. I was taught that only through cultivating intellectual pursuits and acquiring vast knowledge could I possibly be deserving of existence in modern society.

I was taught that it’s not okay to insult people on the basis of their gender, their religion, their sexuality, their race, their economic status, their physical ability, and a million other things they couldn’t possibly help… but for some reason, intellectual capacity was fair game. For some reason, I was taught that it’s perfectly okay to call people things like “idiot,” “imbecile,” or “moron,” despite the fact that none of us have any real control over our intellectual capacity. Despite the fact that, historically, those words are actually grounded in clinical diagnoses, and that throughout history, these diagnoses have been used to deprive people of agency. To deprive people of freedom. To deprive people of things like the right to reproduce. To this day, there are still places in the United States where people who are considered to be intellectually disabled are not allowed to vote.

When we accuse someone of being stupid, we are saying that it is an insult to be like someone with an intellectual or developmental disability. When we use pejoratives derived from a person’s perceived lack of intellect, we are effectively saying that we cannot think of anything worse than being a person with Down syndrome.

People with Down syndrome are PEOPLE. People with Down syndrome have aspirations, and frustrations, and emotions. They’re human beings, with value just like the rest of us. People with Down syndrome are worthy of respect, care, consideration, just like everyone else, and they do not deserve to be your default insult of choice.

There are a myriad words to choose from when expressing ourselves, and we don’t have to limit ourselves to ones who hurt innocent people when we use them. In fact, we can pretty much completely remove the pejoratives and slurs which derive their power from insulting wide swathes of the human population, in favor of words which far more accurately express our anger, frustration, or chagrin, and if we’re so smart that we’ve considered insulting someone else’s intelligence, then clearly we’re sharp enough to come up with a better word to express ourselves than “stupid,” or worse, “r*tarded.”

If you’re not sure where to go from here, consider consulting this wheel for ideas, and stop feeding into the societal norm of devaluing people on the basis of disabilities. You should be able to do better, and people with disabilities absolutely deserve better. If the best you can come up with is, “You’re so awful, you’re like people who have disabilities,” then you’re really, really not trying hard enough.

Wildlife ist Krieg: 10 Totally Kvlt Animals

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These animals are metal as fuck.


1. Hippopotamus

Hippos are territorial and aggressive, going so far as to fight crocodiles (and each other) over their shared aquatic habitats. Hippopotamuses will also fight off lions and hyenas seeking to prey on their young, and have been known to attack boats with humans in them. While hippos are vegetarian (they eat over 100 pounds of vegetation per day!), and not terribly territorial on land, they are credited in Africa with killing more humans per year than any other large animal on the continent. In the mosh pit of the animal kingdom, hippos are definitely that big beefy guy who will fuck your shit up if you accidentally get too close.


2. Moose

Have you ever been at a show and seen that guy on the edge of the mosh pit who’s tall, muscular, and wearing kinda showy bits of armor? That guy is a moose, except he’s wearing a chest plate instead of badass antlers. Moose are herbivores, and are also pretty chill, as long as you respect their personal space. Moose are polygamous, and will definitely fight each other over mating rights, and will attack anything they perceive to be a threat to their children, but much like that guy wearing those cool leather-and-iron bracers at the Eluveitie show, as long as you’re not threatening them or their loved ones, you’ll probably be okay. Just… try not to bump into them.


3. Black Kites and Brown Falcons

Researchers now believe that Black Kites and Brown Falcons in Australia have been intentionally setting brush fires to drive their prey (primarily lizards, frogs, and snakes) out of the protection of grass, and into their bellies. I don’t know about you, but “Arsonist Birds of Prey” sounds to me like a perfect deathcore band name.

4. Mongoose

Look at this lil’ critter. Just look. Adorable, no? This cutie pie is that scrawny, baby-faced teen you bump into at a black metal show and everything is cool until they notice that the guy to the right of you has a swastika tattoo so they literally tear his head off. The mongoose is a cute, fluffy animal so fierce that COBRAS consider them predators. Know what’s more metal than killing and eating deadly venomous snakes? Nothing, that’s what.


5. Black Widow Spider

The Black Widow spider is the most potently venomous spider known in existence on the North American continent. With venom fifteen times stronger than that of a rattlesnake, this spider’s bite packs quite a punch. In addition, the Black Widow spider (who is already perfectly dressed for any metal show, with her black carapace and an hourglass-shaped splash of red on her belly) is known to kill and eat her mate once she’s finished with him. That’s… pretty fucking metal.


6. Praying Mantis

OK, sure, Black Widows kill and eat their partners after mating, but you know what’s even more metal than that? The Praying Mantis, an insect which looks like it’s basically made of blades, takes it a step farther. During mating, female Mantises frequently decapitate their male counterparts. When they’re finished, the females of the species then eat the males… while they’re still alive. Whoa.


7. Blue-Ringed Octopus

The Blue-Ringed octopus is tiny. The Blue-Ringed octopus is cute. The Blue-Ringed octopus will Fuck. You. Up. This adorable little cephalopod, found mostly off the coasts of Australia, New Guinea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines has developed a rather amazing defense mechanism to keep itself from being easy prey for larger organisms: it produces not one, but TWO different deadly neurotoxins. One is used for immobilizing its prey, and the other is used to slay its predators. The Blue-Ringed octopus is generally shy, using its dull golden brown flesh to blend into its surroundings… but piss one off, and its glowing blue rings of death become extremely obvious. This deadly little cutie preys mostly on crustaceans and small fish, but only one milligram of its defense toxin is enough to kill a human.


8. Fugu

Look at this adorable little guy. Pufferfish and blowfish are super cute and smiley under average circumstances. As long as they’re not feeling threatened, they’re really pretty chill… so what makes them metal? These adorable little puffballs, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, produce a deadly neurotoxin considered to be hundreds of times stronger than your average, garden-variety cyanide. Where this gets metal as fuck is, their meat is also considered to be a delicacy in Japan. While the preparation of fugu is tightly regulated, that doesn’t stop amateurs from trying to prepare their catches themselves — and dying because of it. Fugu is so metal, it kills humans after it’s dead.


9. Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga ducks are black. Their feathers are black, their beaks are black, their legs and feet are black, their babies are black. They even lay black eggs. They’re basically the sludge metal of the water fowl world.


10. Thresher Sharks

If we’re being honest with ourselves, sharks are metal by default. Rows upon rows of teeth, that whole “being able to smell blood” thing, rending the flesh from their still-living prey in the most brütal fashion… so what makes Thresher Sharks worthy of a specific nod? This fuckin’ shark has a goddamn SCYTHE for a tail. And it uses it to stun and herd its prey for maximum munching efficiency.

Obligatory Trump Thinkpiece

The country is currently embroiled in heated debate after activists in Chicago shut down a Donald Trump rally Friday night. Many are praising the activists who worked together to deny Trump a platform to speak in their city, while others are fretting about what this may mean for the future of the First Amendment, and its protections of Freedom of Speech.

It’s true that the First Amendment protects citizens from governmental repercussions for their speech. It is also true that the First Amendment grants citizens the right to peaceably assemble without fear of legal ramifications. So what does this mean in terms of citizens gathering to shout down Trump? It’s very complex, so I’ll break it down for you:

Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.

Are there any further questions?

OPSEC for Activists, Part 1: The Basics

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**I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY, THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE**

When attending a protest, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Your experiences during a demonstration may vary based on a lot of different factors. It is generally best practice to prepare as though you may be arrested, even if the risk factor seems very low.

Some things you may want to consider include:

  1. Lock your cell phone.
    A 2014 Supreme Court Ruling states that police must obtain a warrant before searching your cell phone. While it is possible that officers may act in defiance of this order, securing your phone with a PIN, passphrase, or fingerprint can help ensure that they do not violate this ruling without your knowledge.There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these three methods of securing your device:Fingerprints: provide very quick access, and cannot be shoulder-surfed; however, if a warrant is obtained for the search of your device, you can be legally compelled to unlock it.
    PIN: provides quick access, is easy to remember, and may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained; however, a 4-digit PIN can be easy to guess/crack, and may also be easy to shoulder-surf.
    Passphrase: may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained, and is more difficult to guess, crack, or shoulder-surf; however, a strong passphrase may be difficult to enter if you need to access your phone quickly, and strong passphrases may also be more difficult to remember.
    Any of these three options is a good choice, and all three are preferable to leaving your phone unlocked. Choose the solution that works best for you, and don’t worry too much about its imperfections.
  2. Encrypt your text messages.
    There are a variety of options at your disposal. Signal, Wickr, and even iMessage all provide reasonably secure messaging. The encryption all three provide means the plaintext content of your messages isn’t able to be captured by IMSI catchers (aka “Stingrays”) that law enforcement agencies set up to monitor protester communications.With Signal specifically, this protection extends to your phone calls as well as your text messages.As an added security measure, Signal for Android allows you to password-protect access to your text messages, and Wickr allows password protection on both the Android and iPhone platforms. The benefit of this password protection is that if you are using a fingerprint lock for your phone, law enforcement will still be legally unable to compel you to grant access to any password-protected databases, as passwords are protected under the Fifth Amendment.
  3. Check your pockets.
    Make sure you check your pockets before you head out. Be mindful of anything you may be carrying that could be construed as a weapon, and try not to bring anything you cannot bear to lose.Additionally, if you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring them with you in their original packaging. It is best to only bring a 3 day supply or so, and to leave the rest at home, in the event that you are somehow separated from your possessions and cannot get them back immediately (or at all.)
  4. Bring a mask.
    While it’s entirely possible you will have no need for it, bringing a bandanna or other face-covering can help in many ways. Wearing a mask is unlikely to protect your identity in any real and meaningful ways if you are seen doing something illegal, but it may help protect you from passive recognition by local law enforcement officers, thus shielding you from being singled out for future harassment based on your political ideologies.Additionally, wearing a mask can help keep you from being spotted by employers watching news coverage of events, or to avoid being the poster child for unsavory headlines. Photos of your face may be available long after the protest, or even the movement is over, so it is important to consider how being associated may impact you several years down the line.
  5. Choose your clothing carefully.
    Distinctive clothing can make you easy to pick out of a crowd, easy to place at the scene of a crime (even if it is not a crime you have committed,) and easy to target for police repression. While “black bloc anarchists” are frequently demonized as “violent” and “criminal,” the fact remains that black bloc is actually a tactic, not a faction, and its roots lie in protecting individuals from being targeted for repression during or after a demonstration, by cloaking everyone in a shroud of homogeneity.It is, of course, still possible to use biometrics such as height, weight, facial structure, and gait analysis to identify people in a crowd, but unremarkable attire can still help your chances significantly. It is particularly wise to avoid wearing bright colors, and also a good idea to abstain from wearing jewelry. If you have brightly-colored hair and/or tattoos, it may also be a good idea to cover these.If you are anticipating exposure to chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, it is important to know that while synthetic fabrics will not absorb these chemicals, and may provide a good barrier between them and your skin, they may also melt if they come into contact with something hot.Additionally, make sure whatever you’re wearing is easy to move around in (specifically in the event that you need to make a quick escape), and wear comfortable shoes.
  6. Prepare your emergency contacts.
    Find out whether there is a legal hotline that operates in your area. In many areas where such hotlines do exist, it is sometimes possible that they may not be staffed for all demonstrations, but it is always wise to write the phone number for the hotline in sharpie on your arm, as many unstaffed hotlines will also find emergency staffing in the event of arrests being made. Additionally, it is a good idea to check in with a couple trusted individuals who will not be at the demonstration; write their numbers on your arm as well, talk to them beforehand about any relevant information that you might want a legal hotline to know (prescriptions you need, whether or not you want public support, whether or not you want to be bailed out, who, if anyone, you’d like to have called, etc.)As part of this procedure, it’s also a good idea to set a check-in time with any individuals you are designating as emergency contacts; this is for a number of reasons. For one, it is always possible that you may get only one phone call in the event of arrest. It’s generally best to use this call to contact a legal hotline, but often there is a time lapse of several hours between being taken into custody, and being given your phone call. In the mean time, your emergency contacts can assume that your failure to check in means that you are unable to do so, and can start calling into the hotline, or calling people who need to be informed of your arrest (maybe you need a co-worker to cover a shift, maybe you need to let your housemates know you won’t be able to take your laundry out of the dryer or feed your dog, maybe you need your partner or neighbor to pick your child up from school.)Remember, also, that phone calls made from jail are monitored, so be mindful of what you are saying, and make sure your contact knows not to say anything that could be used against you as well. It may also be a good idea to come up with a duress phrase, to be used in the event of extreme emergency if you’ve told your contacts you do not want to be bailed out, but circumstances you may not wish to discuss over the phone have changed that.
  7. Keep your mouth shut.It is important to remember that you are under no obligation to answer questions posed by law enforcement officers. If you are being taken into custody, you may be required to show identification and give fingerprints, but there is no need to answer questions prying for information beyond that given by whichever form of identification you choose to use. Officers in the United States will often ask questions conversationally without first reading you your Miranda Rights, but you are under no obligation to answer them, and should refrain from doing so.Law enforcement officers are well-trained in asking questions conversationally, so you don’t necessarily realize they are pumping you for information, and any information you reveal, even in response to a seemingly innocuous question, can be used to hurt you. Specifically state that you would like to invoke your right to remain silent, ask to speak to an attorney, and say nothing else, no matter how harmless you think it may be.
  8. Consider repression tactics.
    Several of the dispersal tactics used by various law enforcement agencies may influence the choices you make prior to attending a demonstration. If police in your area use chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, you should refrain from wearing any oil-based makeup or contact lenses. If law enforcement uses less-lethal projectiles, you may wish to wear thicker clothing to help pad against rubber bullets and beanbag rounds. You may also want to consider bringing a gas mask and/or helmet along with you.
  9. Never travel alone.
    When going to a protest, always bring a buddy along to watch your back. Buddies should help keep each other safe from being flanked by law enforcement, being taken into custody without anyone knowing, or generally getting left behind. Having someone to watch your back can make a huge difference in how safe you are at a protest.Additionally, never depart from a protest alone; at minimum, travel using the buddy system, and whenever possible, travel in larger groups. Post-demonstration snatch-and-grab arrests by law enforcement are frequent occurrences, and traveling in a group means that at very least, there are witnesses if you are targeted.With special thanks to The Grugq for reviewing this guide.