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Pete Buttigieg Says Marijuana Arrests Signify “Systemic Racism.” His South Bend Police Fit the Bill.

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Pete Buttigieg wasn’t much of a pot smoker in college. But coming home from a party one evening, he bumped into a friend of a friend smoking a joint. Buttigieg later recalled that he acted out of curiosity. “Oh, is that — ?” the young Buttigieg said. “And she handed it to me.”

At precisely that moment, a police car pulled up. He quickly tossed the joint over his shoulder. Luckily for Buttigieg, it was a campus cop. Unluckily, he quickly found the roach on the sidewalk, berated Buttigieg, had him place his hands on the trunk, and searched him. Finding nothing more, he sped off, leaving Buttigieg with a story he still tells today of the first time he realized what it means to be privileged. “If I were not white, the odds of that having been something that would have derailed my life are exponentially higher,” he said at an event this spring. “It’s one of many reasons why I think we have to end the war on drugs and move towards the legalization of marijuana.”

It’s a theme Buttigieg returns to often. In July, at an event in Iowa, he shot down a racist question from an audience member by responding, “The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism.” When pressed by fact-checkers on his claim, he said that he was referring to the racial disparity in marijuana arrests nationwide, citing an American Civil Liberties Union study that found black people were 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for pot than whites.


The disparity in South Bend, Indiana, however, has been significantly worse than that under Buttigieg’s leadership.

Since Buttigieg became mayor in January 2012, taking charge of the South Bend Police Department, the city’s black residents have been far more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than its white residents. That disparity in South Bend under Buttigieg, in fact, is worse than in the rest of the country, or even the rest of Indiana.

A black South Bend resident, under the Buttigieg administration, was 4.3 times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana between 2012 and 2018 than a white resident, according to data collected by the federal government. Meanwhile, in Indiana statewide during that time, according to data from reporting law enforcement agencies, black people were 3.5 times more at risk of a pot arrest; nationally, the disparity between the rates of black arrests and white arrests was 3 to 1. In the study Buttigieg cited to back up his claim in Iowa, the ACLU in 2013 found a 3.7 to 1 disparity nationally. The study is also referenced in Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan for Black America, which calls for marijuana to be legalized and arrest records to be expunged.

South Bend has a black population of roughly 27,000 and a white population of around 64,000, and local police have made 1,256 arrests for pot possession since 2012. Of those, 805 were black, while just 449 were white. Nationally, the rate of marijuana use is roughly equal for blacks and whites. The disparity in South Bend policing extends into other crimes: In 2018, 22 black people were arrested for selling weed in South Bend, while just 4 white people were taken in.

In 2018, 714 people were arrested for all drug-related offenses. Despite making up just a quarter of the population, more than half of those, 384, were black. While overall, South Bend was worse than both Indiana and the country as a whole, there were some individual years during which arrest rates for black people in South Bend were lower than the statewide average.

Sean Savett, a spokesperson for the Buttigieg campaign, wrote in a statement: “While mayors don’t make the law related to drug possession, Pete has been an outspoken advocate for legalization because he recognizes the disparate impact these laws have in devastating Black communities and the lives of Black Americans, particularly young Black men. It is also why he’s one of the only candidates to make eliminating incarceration for drug possession part of his presidential platform, and it’s why he’s proposed legalizing marijuana, expunging past convictions, reducing sentences for other drug offenses — and applying those reductions retroactively.”

Before Buttigieg entered office, according to testimony from one former city official, a small group of white police officers conspired to push the city’s black police chief, Darryl Boykins, out of his job, hoping to use donors to persuade Buttigieg to make the move. “It is going to be a fun time when all white people are in charge,” one officer reportedly said.

Buttigieg did fire Boykins, but after protests from the black community, rescinded the firing and demoted him instead. Though the parties deny any involvement, the affair, Buttigieg later wrote in his memoir, “affected my relationship with the African-American community in particular for years to come.”

Henry Davis Jr., who was recently elected to a third term to the city council, told The Intercept he was unsurprised to hear the significant disparity in arrests. “It’s bad as hell here,” said Davis. “The numbers for African American police officers have dropped to historic lows.” He also said that Buttigieg has yet to make a human connection with the South Bend black community. “He feels like it’s an open book test: If I do these things, then I win,” he said. “He’s discounting the fact that he’s dealing with human beings.”

Davis lost to Buttigieg in a 2015 primary for mayor, and has often butted heads with the city over policing. In October 2012, after leaving a council meeting in which he voted against a police union contract, Davis was pulled over and detained at gun point. Davis, according to the dash cam video, protested that officers knew who he was. “I know exactly who you are,” one told him, explaining he had been pulled over for a “sudden lane change,” though there’s no evidence of such a lane change in the video. In the wake of the Boykins fiasco, Davis had reported the South Bend Police Department to the Department of Justice for an investigation into the racist remarks caught on police recordings, and the officers sued him for defamation, which was tossed out of court.

Jorden Giger, a 28-year-old South Bend activist with Black Lives Matter, agrees with the prominent criticism that Buttigieg ignores the concerns of black people in South Bend. “Mayor Pete is like, you know, he’s very calculating,” Giger said.

The mayor’s focus on police accountability in his presidential campaign is puzzling, he continued, “because we don’t see that here in South Bend.” Black Lives Matter activists held rallies in downtown South Bend in July and August to push the mayor on a set of demands for him and the police force — among them, the removal and demotion of several officers, including Chief of Police Scott Ruszkowski, who was implicated in suggesting to the mayor who should replace Boykins. BLM wanted the mayor to create a civilian review board for incidents of police violence, along with instituting anti-bias testing and updated bias training.

Buttigieg often touts the Board of Public Safety, Giger said, which oversees disciplinary actions for police and firefighters, and which includes three black men.

Buttigieg in a 2017 address said that “complaints about the conduct of officers are rare” but “taken very seriously,” citing as proof the existing Board of Public Safety, what he called “one example of a ‘citizen review board.’” In an April story, South Bend City Council Member Regina Williams-Preston told the New York Times that the mayor’s suggestion “was a betrayal.”

“Citizens had asked for a citizens’ review board, and for him to say now we have one, in fact it’s the same thing we’ve always had, that was really disingenuous,” Preston told the Times. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“They’re political appointments,” Giger said of the Board of Public Safety. Giger said activists have asked him remove and replace several members, but the mayor hasn’t. “He’s not using any of his political capital to address these issues here locally. I think he just wants to get away from South Bend as quickly as he can.”

Buttigieg has struggled to gain traction among nonwhite voters, polling close to zero among Hispanic and black voters. His chief piece of policy outreach to the black community, the Douglass Plan, led to controversy when The Intercept reported that two of the top three high-profile black South Carolina supporters touted by the campaign were not in fact supporters of the plan, or of Buttigieg.

Giger said he was unimpressed by the Buttigieg campaign’s explanation for his lack of black support, namely that black voters simply aren’t familiar with the candidate yet. “It’s very difficult to convince white moderates or white liberals to really get it,” Giger said.

The post Pete Buttigieg Says Marijuana Arrests Signify “Systemic Racism.” His South Bend Police Fit the Bill. appeared first on The Intercept.

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59 days ago
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Empty T-Mobile Promises Convince Texas To Back Off Merger Lawsuit


While the DOJ and FCC have rubber stamped T-Mobile's controversial $26 billion merger with Sprint, the megadeal still faces stiff opposition from more than a dozen state AGs. What began as a coalition of ten states had been slowly expanding over the last few months to include states like Texas. Collectively, state AGs have made it very clear that every meaningful economic metric indicates the deal will erode competition, raise rates, and result in thousands of layoffs as redundant employees are inevitably eliminated.

In response, T-Mobile lobbyists have been working overtime trying to convince some states to back off their opposition in exchange for promises history suggests there's little chance they'll actually adhere to. Case in point: Texas AG Ken Paxton announced Monday morning he'd be quitting the lawsuit coalition after T-Mobile promised more jobs and better broadband coverage. But the promises themselves were kept vague, and there was, you'll note, zero mention of what happens should T-Mobile not meet them:

"Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that his office reached a settlement with T-Mobile resolving the state’s antitrust claims against the proposed merger of mobile wireless telecommunications service providers Sprint and T-Mobile. The agreement is designed to prevent the New T-Mobile from increasing prices for wireless services on Texans for five years after the merger is complete. The agreement also commits the New T-Mobile to build out a 5G network throughout Texas, including rural areas of our state, during the next six years."

But I've written pretty extensively how pre-merger telecom promises are absolutely meaningless. 99.5% of the time, when it's time to hold a big company accountable on the state or federal level for pre-merger promises five years from now, all backbone suddenly and mysteriously evaporates, and whoever is in charge at the time will suddenly decide that actually enforcing any such promises isn't worth the time and hassle of battling with telecom lobbyists and lawyers. It's a bipartisan tradition that goes back the better part of forty years, and it's a major reason why US broadband is so patchy and mediocre.

Economists are painfully clear about the fact that the T-Mobile merger will eliminate thousands of jobs, reduce competition, and drive up US wireless prices (already some of the highest in the developed world). It's another "debate" where there is no actual debate, yet you wouldn't generally know that from reading fluffy tech press coverage of the deal, which oddly omits historical context (like the fact two variants of this deal have already been blocked for risk of clear anti-competitive harm). The myopia is thanks in no small part to the litany of folks paid by telecom to pretend mergers are uniformly wonderful.

The job losses from this kind of union are inevitable. And while T-Mobile is busy promising Texas that the merger will result in expanded broadband coverage, with their other hand they're working with the CTIA to make it harder to actually determine where 5G will be available. Why do you think that might be, exactly? Still, there are thirteen states taking part in the lawsuit which, thanks to the unrealistic nature of these promises and legal precedent, has a good shot at succeeding.

Texas isn't the only state to be wooed by the dulcet tones of T-Mobile lobbyist promises. Colorado and Mississippi also backed off the lawsuit after receiving promises of new call centers and rural broadband expansion which, if 40 years of telecom history holds, will be little more than a faint echo half a decade from now when it's time to pay the bill. It's the American way.

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60 days ago
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The social norm of not talking about salary only benefits the corporations who can pay the less confident people less

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73 days ago
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“If It’s Gonna Come Out, It’s Gonna Come Out the Right Way”: Heroes of Torture Report Movie Are Lauded for Dodging Reporters

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Standing in line for a movie screening at the Newseum this past week, I overheard a conversation — the kind I’ve come to realize is banal in Washington, D.C.

Two Capitol Hill staffers behind me were lamenting the risks of inviting their journalist friend to parties. “I couldn’t believe I had to tell him he couldn’t report on what he heard at the party,” one said. “Yeah,” replied the other, “We agreed long ago that our house was off the record.” “And then when I told him,” continued the first, “he stopped coming to my parties.”

We were waiting to see the D.C. premiere of “The Report,” the new movie written and directed by Scott Z. Burns that chronicles the struggle within the government to release the Senate Intelligence Committee’s five-year investigation into the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — i.e., torture — following 9/11. The inquiry had roots in a prior investigation, beginning in 2005, into the destruction of CIA tapes showing the waterboarding of detainees. In 2009, the committee voted to initiate an expanded investigation into the CIA’s program. Five years later, the committee released a summary of the report that was heavily redacted and a tenth as long as the full report. The Obama administration and the CIA pushed to remove any details that would lead to real accountability, keeping the CIA officers involved anonymous and blacking out the names of the countries where torture had occurred.

Around 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, after over an hour of open bar and a red carpet expressly set up for Instagramming, Burns — known as the screenwriter for “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “The Informant!” — introduced the movie. He began by thanking Daniel J. Jones — the Intelligence Committee staffer detailed to the investigation into black sites, rendition, and “enhanced interrogation” — and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate committee, both of whom were in the audience. When Burns addressed Feinstein, the packed house in the Newseum auditorium burst into applause. Annette Bening (who plays Feinstein in “The Report”) “sends her regards,” Burns said. “She wants you to know you’re her hero.” I watched the back of Feinstein’s head bob up and down in acknowledgement.

For many in the room that night, the movie was a celebration of the bureaucratic government work that too often doesn’t make it into the limelight. But opening in the midst of an impeachment inquiry sparked by a whistleblower, “The Report” is also a rumination on the internal calculus of government employees who want to revolt against official secrecy — as Jones did — and whether the public’s right to know is best served by revealing illegal government activity through official channels or sharing it with the press.

The movie surfaces another story about how and when congressional staffers decide to leverage journalism for their own purposes, and how whistleblowing is viewed in the culture of the capital.

“The Report” begins, like Spencer Ackerman’s 2016 rendition for The Guardian, with Jones breaking the law. Jones, played by Adam Driver, had been tasked by the Intelligence Committee with sifting through millions of documents, cables, and emails related to the CIA’s interrogation techniques in a windowless room designed to contain sensitive material. One file in particular caught his attention: an internal report prepared by the CIA for former Director Leon Panetta that seemed to corroborate the Senate’s findings. Worried about losing access to this file when it became clear that the CIA was intent on preventing the Senate from releasing anything about the torture program, Jones illegally removed it from the building. That document became a critical piece of leverage in countering the CIA’s resistance to the release of the Senate’s torture report.

The existence of the public Senate report, albeit in its limited form, is something of a bureaucratic miracle. The CIA’s own investigation into the matter, the document produced for Panetta, was deep-sixed, and President Barack Obama made an explicit decision when he came into office not to pursue the investigation. He wanted to appear, as the movie notes, “post-partisan.” Without Jones’s relentless work, we might never have known the depths to which the CIA fell in the years after 9/11.

“The Report” is a useful reminder of the inhumanity and ineffectiveness of torture and of the key fact that no one was held accountable. The graphic reenactments of torture scenes with blaring music, nudity, and physical abuse are second only to the full-throated embrace by a CIA officer of everything from imposing “learned helplessness” to waterboarding.

But the movie surfaces another story about how and when congressional staffers decide to leverage journalism for their own purposes, and how whistleblowing is viewed in the culture of the capital. It’s the same thing those Hill staffers in line were wrestling with, at a different level: A sense of both the value and the danger of the press is instilled from above. A choice moment in the film comes when Feinstein, meeting with a frustrated Jones, asks him what he thinks of Edward Snowden. Jones is silent. “I think he’s a traitor,” Feinstein says.

According to the movie, Jones, who was notoriously reticent when it came to talking to reporters, leveraged the press to his and the report’s benefit only once: when he himself became the subject of CIA intimidation. After having removed the Panetta report, he gives a reporter a cryptic clue, telling him to look into computer hacking targeting the Senate. The reporter asks for more information. “You’re the New York Times national security reporter, you should be able to figure it out.” Jones walks away, leaving the Times reporter incredulous. The crowd in the Newseum giggled.

The movie, here, elides the fact that reporter who actually broke this story was Ali Watkins — then a reporter at McClatchy who only later worked a stint as national security reporter at the New York Times (she now works on the Metro desk). “The Report” is an insider’s movie: It doesn’t name most of the characters, some because they’re CIA officers who were given pseudonyms in the summary that was released, some because they’re staffers who worked with Jones. (I overheard someone wondering out loud, before the movie began, how the composite character that included his friend would be portrayed.) Like the report itself, the story is unwieldy, and giving it a Hollywood treatment necessitates the lionizing of some and the sidelining of others.

At another crucial moment — in December 2014, when Feinstein is in her last week as chair of the committee, as the Republicans come to power during Obama’s second term — Jones again weighs the prospect of talking to the press. A moody Jones puts his entire report into his bag and drives to meet the same reporter in a parking garage. “If the Times had your report, we would print it tomorrow,” the reporter says. Jones struggles for a moment before reaching his conclusion: “No. If it’s gonna come out, it’s gonna come out the right way.”

This approach ultimately pans out. The Democratic caucus in the Senate pressures Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough (played by Jon Hamm, the perfect hotshot), to get the redacted summary of the Senate report out. The movie nails this moment as a crucial indictment of the Obama administration for wanting to move beyond what happened, rather than own up to it. But pause on Jones’s dramatized decision for a moment. He took a leap of faith; he chose to believe in the importance of the process. That time, it paid off (sort of). What if it hadn’t? Jones is something of a unicorn in having moved against the government via official channels and emerging relatively unscathed.

And what does it mean to put something out “the right way” anyways? The implication is that the report gained some kind of authoritative status because it was condoned by the Senate and the White House. The government publicly admitted that it tortured people, and promised never to do it again, even in the fog of the war. But imagine an alternate history, in which an unredacted summary had been released — a version that didn’t eviscerate the details. If that had happened, there would have been a chance at something more than symbolic justice.

The movie portrays Jones as a hero for turning away from the temptations of journalism. As a viewer who is immensely skeptical of official process, I believe that sharing evidence of government malfeasance with the press is a legitimate and often necessary check on power. But how will Americans respond to this movie when it’s released on November 15, after months of headlines about cover-ups, whistleblowers, and leaks?

For the room in D.C., “The Report” felt like a salve on a difficult time, a reassurance that the system can work as it’s set up.

The best-case scenario is that “The Report” helps viewers understand the powerful forces working against transparency. For the room in D.C., the film felt like a salve on a difficult time, a reassurance that the system can work as it’s meant to.

The depressing thing is that getting the truth out there doesn’t always result in change. On my way out, I picked up a free copy of the almost 600-page summary of the Senate’s torture report, reprinted by Melville House. On the back, one line seems to say it all: “The book that inspired the major motion picture.” Oh God, I thought, is this the fate of all that work? A new cover plastered with Driver’s face? After all, Gina Haspel, who played a key role in the destruction of the torture tapes, is now the director of the CIA, as the movie wryly notes in its end cards. Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, two of the victims of U.S. torture and the subjects of the destroyed tapes, are still being held in Guantánamo Bay. Not even the Newseum will be around that much longer.

Topic Studios, part of First Look Media, The Intercept’s parent company, helped support production of “The Report.”

The post “If It’s Gonna Come Out, It’s Gonna Come Out the Right Way”: Heroes of Torture Report Movie Are Lauded for Dodging Reporters appeared first on The Intercept.

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75 days ago
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US Government Threatening To Kill Free Trade With South Africa After Hollywood Complained It Was Adopting American Fair Use Principles

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Hollywood hates fair use. Even though Hollywood frequently relies on fair use, it seems to go out of its way to fight against fair use being used anywhere else. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) (which is a mega trade group of intellectual property maximalist trade groups, including the MPAA, the RIAA, ESA, IFTA and AAP) has freaked out any time any other country in the world has sought to have American-style fair use. Over a decade ago IIPA flipped out when Israel's fair use rules matched the US's. The group and other surrogates have also fought American-style fair use in the UK and Australia after both of those countries explored implementing American-style fair use.

The IIPA has a playbook all set for any country (outside of the US) that is thinking about adopting US style fair use policies: it claims that because fair use relies heavily on judicial common law, no other country but the US can possibly have it, because it will lead to lots of litigation until the courts set the boundaries. Of course, this seems pretty silly, as there are easy ways around this (indeed, it's why fair use kinda works fine in Israel). The latest country to explore implementing an American-style fair use is, as we reported last year, South Africa. Its copyright reform seemed quite smart and well-thought out.

And, of course, Hollywood absolutely couldn't let that stand. Earlier this year, the IIPA included South Africa in its usual omnibus submission to the USTR for the Special 301 list, the ridiculous annual process by which big copyright holders tell the USTR what countries aren't implementing the copyright laws they want, and the USTR tries to "shame" those countries into playing by Hollywood's rules. In this year's submission, the IIPA seems positively apoplectic that South Africa might implement American-style fair use. And, of course, it pulls out the bogus "so much litigation!" warning:

Most recently, the National Assembly of South Africa adopted legislation in December 2018 that also features a broad spectrum of vaguely delineated exceptions. On top of a set of extremely broad new exceptions and limitations to copyright protection (and the existing “fair dealing” system), the new law adds a version of the U.S. “fair use” statute that will allow judges to excuse certain uses from licenses. This version of “fair use” can be applied to eight broad and unclear “purposes” of use, such as “scholarship, teaching and education,” and “expanding access for underserved populations.” The proposed “fair use” system lacks the decades of legal precedent that have served to define, refine, and qualify that doctrine in the United States. The effects of this provision, along with overlapping exceptions and limitations, will result in confusion and uncertainty about which uses of copyright works require licenses, and could hinder investment in and the development of new copyright services in South Africa. It will, in particular, imperil the legitimate markets for educational texts, locally distributed works, and online works in general. Taken as a whole, these provisions are inconsistent with South Africa’s international obligations since they far exceed the degree of exceptions and limitations permitted under the WTO TRIPS Agreement (the “three-step test”).

First, kudos to the IIPA for at least admitting outright that South Africa is looking to implement a "version of the U.S. 'fair use' statute," because I wouldn't have put it past them to ignore the fact that this exists in the US and all of the IIPA members' members have used it to build parts of their business.

But the claim that this is inconsistent with international obligations is utter hogwash. As we've discussed in the past, the "three-step test" is often used by Hollywood as a strawman pretending that it blocks users' rights in copyright law. But that's not true. If it was, then the US couldn't even have the fair use system we do. But we do. So, no, the three-step test doesn't prevent it.

Now, here's the really fucked up part in all of this. While any competent US Trade Rep (USTR) would look at this and laugh off Hollywood's usual nonsense and point out that if we have fair use here in the US, it's pretty fucking rich to think that we should attack an ally for implementing the same law, that's not what happened. Instead, just recently the USTR directly announced that because of these very concerns, it's opening an investigation into South Africa's intellectual property processes, and it could lead to the USTR kicking South Africa out of a very favorable free trade agreement (the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)):

South Africa: USTR is accepting a petition from the International Intellectual Property Alliance based on concerns with South Africa’s compliance with the GSP IP criterion, in the area of copyright protection and enforcement.

This could lead to a huge change in South Africa's access to the American market, potentially putting over $2 billion worth of South African exports at risk.

All because South Africa wants to implement a totally reasonable copyright plan that respects the public's rights in a manner entirely consistent with current US law. And the US (by way of Hollywood lobbyists) wants to punish the country for that. This is a potentially huge and incredible situation which is not getting very much attention at all -- which is just how Hollywood, the IIPA, the MPAA, and the RIAA want it.

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81 days ago
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Dear Strange Man on the Train,

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At 11 o’clock at night, you moved across the train car to sit far too close to two girls about half your age so you could interrupt our conversation to tell us how pretty we are. We said thank you, have a good night, and went back to our conversation.

You interrupted us a second time to say that you didn’t want to bother us, but we needed to hear it, how pretty we are. We said cool, thanks, have a good night, and went back to our conversation.

You interrupted us a third time to say you wouldn’t say anything else, you didn’t want to bother us, you just had to let us know. We said have a good night, and went back to our conversation.

This seemed to perplex you. You came all that way across a train car to bestow upon us this life altering knowledge - the fact we were pretty - and all you got was a polite thank you? You grumbled about gratitude, about how you better not end up on facebook, were we putting you on facebook? Why was my friend looking at her phone? Was she putting you on facebook? All you’d done was tell us we were pretty.

At this point, my friend says, “Sir, we’re trying to have a conversation. Please don’t be disrespectful.”

This was when you got angry. Disrespectful? YOU? For taking the time out of your day to tell us we were pretty? Did we know we were pretty?

“Yes, we knew,” says my friend.

Well, that was the last straw. How dare we know we were pretty! Sure, you were allowed to tell us we were pretty, but we weren’t allowed to think it independently, without your permission! And if we had somehow already known - perhaps some other strange man had informed us earlier in the day - we certainly weren’t allowed to SAY it! Where did we get off, having confidence in ourselves? You wanted us to know we were pretty, sure, but only as a reward for good behavior. We were pretty when you gifted it upon us with your words, and not a moment before! You raged for a minute about how horrible we were for saying we thought we were pretty, how awful we turned out to be.

I took a page out of your book and interrupted you. “Sir, you said you wouldn’t say anything else, and then you kept talking,” I said. “You complimented us, we said thank you, and we don’t owe you anything else. It’s late, you’re a stranger, and I don’t want to talk to you. We’ve tried to disengage multiple times but you keep bothering us.”

At this point, our train pulled into the next stop. My friend suggested we leave, so we got up and went to the door.

Seeing your last chance, you lashed out with the killing blow. “I was wrong!” you shouted at us as we left, “You’re ugly! You’re both REALLY UGLY!”

Fortunately, since our worth as human beings is in no way dependent upon how physically attractive you find us, my friend and I were unharmed and continued on with our night. She walked home; I switched to the next train car and sat down.

So, strange man, I know you’re confused. I don’t know if you’ll think about anything I said to you, but I hope you do learn this: when you give someone something - a gift, a compliment, whatever - with stringent stipulations about how they respond to it, you are not giving anything. You are setting a trap. It is not as nice as you think it is.

But you’ll be happy to know that when I sat down in the next car, a strange man several seats over called, “Hey, pretty girl. Nice guitar. How was your concert?”

“Thanks. Good,” I said, then looked away and put on my headphones, the universal sign for ‘I’d like to be left alone.’

“Wow. Fine. Whatever. Fucking bitch,” he said.

Fucking creepers. May I ask how feminism or anything similar would actually have prevented this from happening? This ya already socially unacceptable.

Men - because to be clear, I called them ‘strange men’ because they were strangers to me, not because there was anything abnormal about them - act this way because they are raised in a culture that lets them believe their time and opinions are more important than the time and opinions of women, and that as a consequence, they are owed women’s attention. They are socialized to believe women should be grateful to them for their attention, and that they are being denied something rightfully theirs when women are not.

Raising someone with feminism, the idea that all sexes/genders are equals and thus no party is beholden to or more important than another, would have prevented this by not allowing men to grow up expecting ‘rights’ that are not actually theirs. You say this is socially unacceptable, but there were 20+ people on that train who actively watched us being harassed and did not say a word. It is socially unacceptable, but this kind of thing happens to me and many other women multiple times a week, with often more traumatic results.

So, yes, I believe more feminism would prevent sexist moments like this. Also, water is wet, the atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, and cheese is addictive.

This was not sexist, this was an awkward man, possibly trying to get a positive reaction versus a neutral or negative one that was displayed, based off of the context you showed. Awful that he interrupted your conversation, and wanted to be engaging socially, whatever his reasons that motivated him. Generalizations of a certain biological sex does not help society as a whole, and the ideal of feminism does not help. The people who “actively watched” you be verbally harassed possibly believed you were perfectly capable in handle yourselves. You’d probably be more upset if there was another man that told the strange man to back off, due to him possibly being “chivalrous”.
I find the whole event to be amusing for the awkwardness of the conversation and would only had stepped in had he’d been physical. I really don’t see how this event was “sexist”, and only say that you’re really reaching.

Well I wouldn’t see any part of this amusing, more times then I can count on my hands I’ve been"complemented" and met with really awful responses when I don’t praise someone endlessly… Yes some guys are awkward which is unfortunately bundled up it these kind of interaction. But the problem is when people are instantly hostile when you don’t drop everything and pretend it’s the first time someone’s every noticed you let alone called you pretty!
Imagine it’s so women saying this to a guy, if she reacted the same way she’d get called out on being a bitch or what have you…
I’m in a shit mood some my writing is terrible but here are two examples;

At the shops waiting for people doing my own thing and someone calls me pretty. I’m preoccupied but I look up and say oh thank you and go back to what I was doing only to have them mutter that they did me a favour and it’d pay to not be so emo. Like sorry I’m on the phone and didn’t drop everything…
Perhaps I could say “I was at fault for not engaging in further conversation”

And more recently on a train had a dude compliment my bow to which I replied the same way “oh thanks” and he wished me a good day as I did to him. That was it. Same response from me but boy it’s nice to not feel like I’m a bad person for not saying how amazing and nice they are for complementing me??

Ugh I doubt any of this makes sense or helps but I really can’t look at the situations I’ve been put into and find them funny…..

Thanks for the response and the perspective, and yes they are two different incidents that happened.
I find that these compliment baiters to be funny, because they just want attention too, but aren’t observant of the environment they’re in.
The situation is uncomfortable, sure, especially when they resort to negative attention seeking behaviors, but for her to contort it to a sexist deposition is something that I’m confused about and don’t agree with at all. These people were probably not taught the art of communication and observation. They don’t need feminism for that. They need to experience a social life.

It’s got nothing to do with sex. There is a pervasive psychological thread where men chase and women are chased. It’s not always in a sexual way. It’s a power thing. These awkward men don’t seem to approach other men. Why? Because those men might chase back. A person could get hurt that way. But, women, our subconscious tells us, do not fight or chase.

Might a social life help? Depends on the crowd. A crowd of people who object to such behavior and socially reward the opposite might nip those shenanigans in the bud. But, those shenanigans might never start if a child of any gender is taught, starting at a young age, that nobody owes you any reaction.

I’m awkward myself. Right now, I’m out of my comfort zone for the next three days and I don’t know what to do. But my first instinct after years of being told to be nice and stay passive and quiet is to hold back and remain silent. Why? Because girls don’t approach. They do not engage. They are engaged. I live in terror that someone will take offense to my trying to stick up for my personal freedom and space and attack me. It happens everyday and in every country. Would a social life help? Maybe. But that assumes I’m socializing with people who won’t push or get aggressive.

And there is where feminism comes in. It doesn’t start as sex, it might not end as sex. It begins with how we’re taught power and behavior. It ends with either what happened above or the opposite.

^ Yep, this.

Also, an interesting intellectual disconnect: a guy can experience this situation and “find the compliment baiters amusing,” whereas most women in this situation have been raised to be careful and behave so they won’t get raped or murdered by a stranger, told all the ways to not make themselves a potential victim, consumed media that is just a repetition of stories of women being hurt for essentially existing. It’s not particularly funny or amusing to me since every time it happens, I have to wonder, is this the man who’s going to snap and end my life?

But, fine, whatever, let’s say for a minute that these are just a couple of awkward guys who don’t know how to interact with women and are handling it badly. Let’s say they’re men who have been brought up consuming that same media, where the man has to be in charge, rugged, emotionally controlled, suave, and the initiator of all potential romantic interactions. Let’s say that they fall short in some way and can’t emulate the ideal male image perpetuated by society, so they can’t figure out how to interact in social situations, so they just begin to experience a deep level of frustration and despair that they can’t express to anyone, since men are supposed to be tough and unemotional. Let’s say this emotional cycle continues until it results in them lashing out at strange women because they can’t figure out how to get their attention, even though it is the one thing they want and feel they deserve.

You know what would prevent men feeling like this? Feminism. Because our society puts just as much pressure on men to fill sometimes unachievable roles as it does women, and a society where we were equally allowed to fill a variety of roles regardless of race/gender/sexuality/etc would not hold that same pressure.

If this had been a woman near our age, this never would have happened because womxn generally don’t do this shit to each other. 

I think the thing that amazes me the most about the people still complaining about this three years after I posted it is that they have this idea that every time a man is within fifteen feet of a woman, that woman starts screaming harassment at them. I don’t assume every man that talks to me is hitting on me, which is why this blog is not bloated with every conversation I have ever had with a man; I assume the ones who are actively hitting on me and also not taking social cues or outright “no”s as an answer are hitting on me, and I call them out when they feel genuinely threatening, like above. It’s truly amazing (in the most sarcastic tone you can read that in) that people can read a written recounting of a situation and be completely confident that they know significantly more than anyone present how the situation went down and should have been handled.

If you compliment someone, you are not owed any response more than “thank you.” You are not EVEN owed a “thank you.”

You are not entitled to anyone’s attention.

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