Rape and Civility

Yesterday over at The Watch, Radley Balko reported on a story from Aiken, South Carolina, where police pulled a car over for having a temporary tag (something that's not illegal), abused the inhabitants, called the African-American adult male passenger "boy", and on the pretense of searching for drugs digitally probed his anus on the side of the road:

The anal probe happens out of direct view of the camera, but the audio leaves little doubt about what’s happening. Pontoon at one point says that one of the officers is grabbing his hemorrhoids. Medlin appears to reply, “I’ve had hemorrhoids, and they ain’t that hard.” At about 12:47:15 in the video, the audio actually suggests that two officers may have inserted fingers into Pontoon’s rectum, as one asks, “What are you talking about, right here?” The other replies, “Right straight up in there.”

Pontoon then again tells the officers that they’re pushing on a hemorrhoid. One officer responds, “If that’s a hemorrhoid, that’s a hemorrhoid, all right? But that don’t feel like no hemorrhoid to me.”

As I said when a man in New Mexico was violated at even greater length and with shameful medical assistance, inserting your fingers into somebody's anus against their will is rape. It doesn't stop being rape because the cops did it; it's just rape under color of law.

The Aiken Standard — the local newspaper of Aiken, South Carolina — was snide and defensive about Radley's work and minimized the events and their significance in an unsigned editorial. The Standard noted that the lawsuit has not yet been adjudicated, the claims have not been tested, and we're finding out what's going on. It praised the police department for "transparency" and closed with this paen to civic discourse:

Police officers face danger every day. They’re not perfect, but they lay their lives on the line every day so we can be safe.

As stated by Council member Lessie Price in a meeting with the Aiken Standard, shortly after the story broke, “This is a town where we can talk to each other, we can come in a room, have a conversation, you may not like what’s being said, but we can come together and talk to each other.”

How genteel.

The Standard does not appear to dispute that the Aiken police probed the man's anus on the side of the road looking for drugs. The dispute, rather, is what cause they had to do so, and whether they did so in a way that is notably less cordial than forcibly probing someone's anus on the side of the road would be as a matter of course.

This leads me to ask — is the civility the Standard celebrates helpful?

Civility is a good thing, even when discussing controversial subjects. It's a goal I often fall short of, but a goal nonetheless. Civility even on heated subjects is a good thing because of humility: we may be wrong about the things we are angriest about. It's a good thing because of proportionality: our sense of what is outrageous enough to provoke incivility may be idiosyncratic. It's a good thing because of perspective: the world is full of people ready to be uncivil to us about things we have every damn right to do, and if we encourage incivility we'll get what we ask for. It's a good thing because of human frailty: too often incivility is about the self-image of the uncivil, not about justice or persuasion. Put another way, while I vigorously defend the right to rant about woodchippers, I recognize that invoking them is more often the self-indulgent wankery of poseurs than not.

But civility can take pernicious forms. It's pernicious if we shy from calling out outrageous and despicable conduct. It's pernicious when we give armed government officials the benefit of the doubt because the culture tells us they're brave and nice. It's pernicious when we don't demand public explanations for conduct because the conduct is horrifying and unseemly. Most of all, it's pernicious when we decide that civility is substantive rather than procedural. Civility weighs against gratuitous shouting, insults, and threats. But civility does not require that we let the government beg the question. It does not require that we accept, as true, the premises about government power that have been served to us since birth.

Civility does not require that I presume cops had a reason to do things. Civility does not require me to be automatically skeptical of accusations against them. Civility does not require me to refrain from calling forcible anal intrusion a rape. Civility does not require me to refrain from saying that a white cop who calls a black passenger "boy" is a bigot. Most of all, civility does not require me to accept the devil's bargain proffered by the state and the press: that if the police can conjure up evidence that they had some rational grounds to believe this man did have drugs shoved inside of him, that would justify raping him on the side of the road. Civility does not require me to accept that a law that would permit the police to act this way — even if everything they say is true — is right or moral or just or minimally tolerable. Civility does not require me to accept the proposition that the amount of drugs that would fit in a man's rectum can justify the state forcibly intruding there to look for it. I decline.

I don't care if the Aiken police had twelve eyewitnesses and a video tape showing this man shoving drugs up his ass. If they bent him over on the side of their road and shoved their fingers into him looking for it, they're rapists. I don't care if the law says they can do it, it's wrong. And I don't care how many rape apologists like the Aiken Standard tut and shush and shrug. A society that says this is okay — a society that says it's acceptable for armed agents of the government to rape a man on the side of the road in search of a golf-ball sized bag of drugs — deserves scorn.

Pardon the incivility.

Lawsplainer: What Does That Controversial Mississippi Law Do, Anyway?

I have a question.

Of course you do.

Don't be rude. You've abandoned this site for weeks.  What's your issue?

I was in trial.  I apologize for not entertaining you.  What's your question?

That new law in Mississippi.  The one people call a "religious liberty" bill, either with our without scare quotes.  Does it really allow people in Mississippi to refuse to serve gay people who come into their stores?

Yes with an if, or no with a but.

That's not helpful.  So does it just let people refuse to serve customers if something about the customers offends their religious sensibilities?  

Only if their religious sensibilities arise from three narrowly defined beliefs identified in the bill.

Wait.  What?

This bill doesn't protect all religious beliefs from government intrusion.  It just protects three that the legislators like.

Which ones?

Read the bill, would you?  It's right here. Or here, if you want a pdf.

SECTION 2. The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:
(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and
(c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

Does the bible say something about immutable biological sex?

It may. I drifted off during Leviticus to be honest.

Wait a minute. Can the government decide to give extra protection to some religious beliefs but not others? Does that violate the Establishment Clause or the Equal Protection Clause?

As we speak, lawyers are thinking about how to argue that.

That's a copout answer.

I'm waiting for smarter people to answer it first.

So now anyone in Mississippi can refuse to serve a customer on any of those bases?

No. It's narrower than that.

How?

Well, first of all, the bill cannot and does not purport to change federal law, so to the extent something is prohibited by federal law, it's not protected from federal intervention by this bill. The bill only protects people in Mississippi from intervention by the state of Mississippi or its cities.

Second, the bill's protections are limited to a fairly narrow range of people and activities.

Like what?

Well, Section 3(1) prohibits the state government from taking "discriminatory action" against religious organizations for doing certain things:

28 (a) Solemnizes or declines to solemnize any marriage,
29 or provides or declines to provide services, accommodations,
30 facilities, goods or privileges for a purpose related to the
31 solemnization, formation, celebration or recognition of any
32 marriage, based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely
33 held religious belief or moral conviction described in Section 2
34 of this act;
35 (b) Makes any employment-related decision including,
36 but not limited to, the decision whether or not to hire, terminate
37 or discipline an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are
38 inconsistent with those of the religious organization, based upon
39 or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief
40 or moral conviction described in Section 2 of this act; or
41 (c) Makes any decision concerning the sale, rental,
42 occupancy of, or terms and conditions of occupying a dwelling or
43 other housing under its control, based upon or in a manner
44 consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral
45 conviction described in Section 2 of this act.

Wait. Was Mississippi trying to force priests to conduct gay weddings before?

No. Of course not. That would violate the First Amendment.

But people say that the Supreme Court decides all sorts of crazy things and that it COULD happen.

And monkeys might fly out of my butt. But there's no plausible indication that even an activist Supreme Court will apply anti-discrimination laws to religious sacraments. To the contrary, in 2012 the Supreme Court unanimously found that a "ministerial exception" prohibited a former church employee from bringing a discrimination suit against the church.

So why was the "Mississippi can't force you to perform a gay wedding" clause necessary?

To convey that gays are mean and scary, I imagine.

Is any of Section 3(1) really necessary?

Well, Section 3(1)(b) allows religious organizations to discriminate in hiring based on the three protected beliefs. That's probably a bit broader than First Amendment protections, which would only protect that choice for "ministerial" employees. So, basically, the First Amendment wouldn't allow Mississippi to fine a church for refusing to hire a gay pastor, but Mississippi could constitutionally fine a church for refusing to hire a gay custodian or receptionist. I mean, if Mississippi were ever inclined to do such a thing, which I doubt.

Also, churches that rent out their facilities to the general public could plausibly be penalized even under the First Amendment if they do so in a discriminatory manner — if they offer them to everyone except gays, for instance. So before this bill Mississippi could have punished that.

Was there a danger Mississippi was going to do that?

Of course not. But I guess maybe a town or two in Mississippi might. A lot of these state-level "religious liberty" statutes are a struggle between more conservative state-level power and more liberal local power — state legislators quashing local ordinances.

I thought conservatives liked local control?

I'm the snide one. Step back.

Okay. What else does the bill do?

Section 3(2) prohibits the Mississippi state government from taking action against religious organizations that facilitate foster care or adoption only according to the three specified beliefs. Section 3(3) says the state can't punish a foster or adoptive parent for teaching the specified religious beliefs. Section 3(4) says Mississippi can't punish people for not participating in the provision of treatments or counseling that contradict the specified beliefs.

So Mississippi is saying that the state can't punish you for refusing to help a gay couple conceive through IVF or surrogacy, for instance?

Right. In addition, Section 3(5) lets you refuse to provide a wide range of services in connection with a marriage if that marriage is against one of the specified religious beliefs:

73The state government shall not take any discriminatory
74 action against a person wholly or partially on the basis that the
75 person has provided or declined to provide the following services,
76 accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose
77 related to the solemnization, formation, celebration, or
78 recognition of any marriage, based upon or in a manner consistent
79 with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction
80 described in Section 2 of this act:
81 (a) Photography, poetry, videography, disc-jockey
82 services, wedding planning, printing, publishing or similar
83 marriage-related goods or services; or
84 (b) Floral arrangements, dress making, cake or pastry
85 artistry, assembly-hall or other wedding-venue rentals, limousine
86 or other car-service rentals, jewelry sales and services, or
87 similar marriage-related services, accommodations, facilities or
88 goods.

So. If I read that right, I can't refuse to let a gay person stay at my hotel in general, or refuse to sell a lesbian a cake in general, but I can refuse to let gays honeymoon at my hotel or sell a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding?

Right, that's what the statute purports to protect.

What if I don't want to provide a cake to a wedding reception because it's a divorced Catholic getting remarried, or because it's an interfaith wedding, and those things violate my religious beliefs?

This bill doesn't protect you, then. The Mississippi only singled out three preferred religious beliefs for protection.

Doesn't that violate the . . . .

WAITING. FOR SMARTER. PEOPLE.

FINE. Anything else in the bill?

Yes. Section 3(6) lets people establish gender-restricted restrooms. Section 3(7) lets public employees express the specified religious beliefs if it follows the employer's rules for expression in general or is outside of work.

Wait a minute. Don't public employees already have that right?

Why yes! I'm glad you asked. [talks for three hours.] In short, for speech on matters of public concern, a state employer can discipline public employees for speech if a balancing test finds that the employer's interest in an "orderly and efficient workplace" outweighs the employee's speech rights. Mississippi's bill arguably gives public employees broader free speech rights by allowing them to speak on these specified subjects without engaging in a balancing test about whether any disruptive effects outweigh the employee's speech rights.

So the state of Mississippi chose three specific religious doctrines, and announced a special right for public employees to articulate those specific doctrines that is broader than the right to articulate other religious doctrines and ideas?

Yes.

What the fucking fuck?

Forget it Jake. It's Mississippi.

Anything else? Please say no.

Section 3(8) lets government employees opt out of issuing marriage licenses or solemnizing marriages if it offends their religious beliefs. Sections 5 and 6 lets aggrieved people sue for injunctive relief if they think that Mississippi or its localities are violating this bill.

How would you summarize this?

Mississippi's bill does not "allow anyone to discriminate against anyone," as it's been inaccurately described in the media. For the most part it only says that, if Mississippi or its cities ever had any laws protecting gays from discrimination, religious organizations and wedding vendors in Mississippi wouldn't have to follow them.

However, the spectacle of a state law that chooses very specific religious doctrines and elevates them above other doctrines and beliefs is very disturbing. As I read it, in Mississippi, a public employee could be fired for saying "discriminating against gay marriage is a sin against God, who wants us to love one another," if the disruptive effect of saying that outweighed the employee's speech. But the same public employee could not be fired for saying "gay marriage is a sin against God," even if the same balancing test showed that its disruptive impact outweighed the employee's speech rights. That's just freakish. It's not the rule of law.

OFFICIAL CITY OF PARMA POLICE DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASE

PROTECTANDSERVEANDSHUTYOURMOUTH

FROM: City of Parma Police Department Public Information Officer, Detective Lieutenant Kevin Riley
TO: Citizens of the City of Parma, "Media"
REGARDING: Correction of False Statements Disseminated Through Harassment and Terrorism

As our Vision Statement explains, the City of Parma Police Department is committed to providing the citizens of Parma with lawful environment where all persons can perform their daily routine at any time free from the fear of any type of harassment, injury, or victimization from the criminal activities of any person or entity. Police officers are citizens of Parma too. They, too, have a right to be free of any sort of harassment or victimization or injury, physical or emotional. That is why this Department has taken lawful actions in the course and scope of its law enforcement power to uphold laws prohibiting disruption of public services.  Despite inaccurate and irresponsible media coverage, the Department's initiation of criminal charges against the perpetrator of a destructive and misleading "satire" were appropriate and in the best traditions of American law enforcement practices. The media should leave legal issues, like criminal exceptions to the First Amendment, to the law enforcement experts.

Swift and effective action has ended this particular campaign of lawbreaking. Regrettably, it is now necessary that the Department correct harmful and derogatory misinformation spread by online criminals:

  • Police Chief Robert Miller is popularly known in the Department as "Sir" or "Chief" or "the Boss," not as "Bossy Bottom Bob."  Please accord the Chief the respect to which he is entitled as the leader of a modern professional force.
  • Although the Department is recruiting and does have a firm nondiscrimination policy we are not specifically seeking "every functional illiterate in Cuyahoga County."  Potential recruits who respond before May 1st will be accorded application priority, not "three free tazings."
  • Our tip line does not pay any sort of bounty for any body parts of "messicans" or any other persons.
  • The Detective Bureau Commander's Motto For the Month in February 2016 was "integrity and service," not "RaHoWa Motherfuckers."
  • We do not wear chaps while on duty.  The Department has no information or policy regarding clothing worn off duty, except for misuse of official uniforms.
  • Motorcycle officers will not give you a coupon if you slap their helmets in traffic.  Officers should not be touched in traffic at all.
  • I do not have a sealed juvenile record.  I do not have any juvenile record.  I am a law-abiding person.  I have not killed anyone, and specifically have not killed "an indeterminate number of hobos."
  • Our union representatives help protect our rights and interests in any Departmental investigations and are not actually empowered to execute witnesses.
  • "Lick it or ticket" is not a genuine or authorized City of Parma Police Department public information campaign.

These misrepresentations have caused confusion and disruption in the Department and the City.  Certain agitators assert that the unlawful "parodies" of the Department were clearly jokes and not meant to be taken seriously.  However, there have been several regrettable incidents in which Department officers and staff have acted upon these "parodies," leading to consumption of officer time, waste of taxpayer money, and potential litigation.  To avoid criminal prosecution, any future "parodies" must be labeled prominently and expressed in language reasonably calculated to be understood easily by a City of Parma Police Department officer.  You should feel free to send me a draft to determine if I can understand it.

The Fur Flies In Jupiter

Chapter One

It was on the red carpet that the Breitbart bitch jumped me. Five foot six inches of wild conservative journalist, jabbering something about illegal aliens and the starving children of Judge Scalia. She'd played her cards right, smiling at me, winking and nodding, waiting until the angel dust kicked in. That was her moment to strike, with me weighing all of nine pounds and ready to fly off at the gentlest breeze. It was only the speed-enhanced reflexes of My Campaign Manager that saved me, grabbing the dyke from behind and throwing her to the ground.

Like a dog.

"Jesus Jumping Christ, man," My Campaign Manager hollered. "Did you see the size of the bomb that chick was carrying? It was fifty megatons if it was two ounces."

"I'll bet it was two ounces, you degenerate dope fiend," I replied  from high above, on wings of PCP. "You've been dropping so many blues into that gullet of yours that you couldn't tell a ball point pen from an M-X missile. We have to be careful. There are feds all over this joint. Secret Service. The Heat! How did we ever get into this shit?"

How had we ever gotten into this shit? Three sheets to the wind and cast adrift on the seas of presidential politics, with The Man breathing down our necks, and a showdown with that sinister bastard Cruz ahead, if only we could stay out of prison. Or worst of all, the White House.

It was ten months earlier, in the nineteenth hole at my exclusive resort in Mar-A-Lago, that the inspiration had struck us. Inspiration fueled by slamming back shots of Old Granddad all afternoon, with generous tokes of Panamanian Red.

My Campaign Manager and I had been discussing the trade deficit with China, and the grass deficit with Mexico, when he croaked the fatal words: "God damn it if you're so smart about the Acapulco Gold markets, why don't you run for President?"

As I reached to claw the bong out of his oversized hands, it hit me like an electric vomit-bomb: a political trip. There is nothing so crazed as a politician in rut, screeching whatever thoughts burst into his coke-addled brain like a radioactive weasel before thousands of ignorant nimrods, on total auto-pilot, completely in the now, popping off like God's own Mentos and Diet Coke. Even Mick Jagger wouldn't know how to handle such a beast.

"I'll bet you never come down from a nuclear high," I agreed.

"That's it!" My Campaign Manager screamed, "But first, we'll need the supplies." Yes! The supplies. And so we gassed up the helicopter and zoomed off like a pair of Martians on steroids, frenziedly gathering all of the dangerous drugs we'd need to make it to the White House: six keys of Colombia's finest; a pharmacist's hernia-load of reds, blues, and yellowjackets; twenty pounds of Panamanian Red; the whitest heroin from the Harz Mountains of Germany; a gallon jug of angel dust; two briefcases loaded with mescaline; twelve blotters of Florida sunshine acid; and an aquarium full of Bolivian arrow toads. Plus a hogshead of Budweiser and a big inheritance from our Old Granddad.

"You sure this shit is enough?" My Campaign Manager asked. "Enough?" I said. "We'll barely make it to the convention with a stash this small. We'll have to fuel up in Cleveland. But don't worry, motor-head. They love me in Cleveland. All of the polls say so. Why, that swine Kasich, he still owes me a kilo of Laotian white!"

"Kasich?!?" My Campaign Manager roared. "Is that a name for some kind of burrito-head?"

"He's a natural born American!" I cried, "not some demented iceback. That's Cruz you're thinking of. A Canadian through and through! Or is he a Cuban? Anyway, I have valuable plans for this Kasich fellow. He's the Governor of Cleveland, a most important state they tell me. He's vice-presidential timber! A regular master at the art of the deal."

"He sounds like a God-damned Mexican to me."

Chapter Two …

Statement Of Dear Leader And In-House Counsel Joel Pollak Denouncing Criminal Acts Of Traitor Fields-Shapiro Gang

(BREITBART PYONGYANG) Today all the peoples of TrumpNation expressed shock and remorse at news of the well-documented crimes of slanderous traitors Michelle Fields and Ben Shapiro toward Great Leader Donald Trump and the memory of Eternal Breitbart News President Andrew Breitbart.

Word of the infamous and unnameable deeds of the assassins Fields and Shapiro was released by Dear Leader Joel Pollak, Breitbart News Editor At Large and In-House Counsel, who said thusly: "For months the lies and villainies of the lawless Fields-Shapiro Gang have festered beneath the skin of Breitbart News, before erupting forth like the oozing pus of a treacherous pimple into the sunlight of truth. It was only due to the heroic work of the Special Organs and Great Leader Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski that these treasons against all humanity, and the Populist Nationalist Idea of Great Leader Donald Trump, were dragged forth into the public view, to be spat upon as such slanders deserve."

The lies of the venomous she-bitch Michelle Fields against TrumpNation and all right-thinking peoples are thus exposed to the ridicule and contempt of the peoples. It was through the dedicated work of Mister Lewandowski that Fields was exposed as a malignant urchin posing under the good and honorable name of a Breitbart News Reporter at Large, who casts lies and deceits into the popular consciousness concerning Great Leader Donald Trump, the Lion of Trump Tower, who because of his endurance and inflexible will to win will go from conquest to conquest leaving fire in his wake. May all such traitors wither before the gaze of the unforgiving peoples of TrumpNation.

Of the wrecker and saboteur Ben Shapiro it is best not to speak, save that his name must be blotted from all scrolls and shattered from all tablets for all time to come. The rootless cosmopolitan Shapiro, who was taken in as a foundling and nurtured to strength by Our Eternal President Andrew Breitbart, has betrayed his benefactor by repeating the calumnies of Fields and magnifying her foul work, spitting upon the honored body of the man who raised him from the gutter from whence he came into the worldwide prominence he enjoyed as a Breitbart News Editor at Large and trusted friend of Great Leader Donald Trump, only to sell his master's wife and children in return for the hireling Judas thirty pieces of silver he received from the weakling Ted Cruz, curse his name!

Breitbart News Editor at Large John Nolte, who has succeeded the thrice-accursed dog Ben Shapiro in all offices and honors, spoke of his devotion to Great Leader Donald Trump and assailed the reprehensible back-stabbers Fields and Shapiro as such: "May all of the fruits of the treasons and betrayals of the disloyal Fields-Shapiro Gang turn to scorching ashes in their mouths, burning their serpents tongues for all time in retribution for their greedful and unfair words. Ten thousand years of life to Great Leader Donald Trump!" All the peoples of TrumpNation agree. The Populist Nationalist Idea of Great Leader Donald J. Trump shall endure through the ages, until all such liars and slanderers suffer the torments and bereavements of the damnation which is their fate, and America is Made Great Again.

The Fields-Shapiro Gang has been broken up, and their double dealing exposed, yet these two flunkies of the GOP establishment and wicked Ted Cruz remain at large. A Peoples Tribunal of Breitbart News editors has sentenced the Fields-Shapiro Gang to doxing, to death in absentia, and to public mortification. All peoples of TrumpNation are urged to report the whereabouts of these two thieves in the night. Great Leader Donald Trump has promised huge rewards, including an autographed Make America Great Again baseball cap, in return for their capture, alive if possible.

Follow Patrick Nonwhite on Twitter @DPRK_News.

Kim Jong Il

Violence and Political Speech

I don't write the headlines

I don't write the headlines

My most recent CNN Column discusses violence in political settings. See Defend Donald Trump's right to free speech

I don't get to write my own headlines, ok?

Some good people think that sometimes being violent is ok. What they don't understand is that when we use violence in politics, no matter what, the bad people always win. They get to escalate the violence, feeding off of it, up to a point where the good people lose the stomach for it — or at least a critical mass of them lose the stomach for it.

Always.

And the bad people will always have more of a stomach for it, so in the war of attrition, they will win. They'll always be willing to bash you over the head with a truncheon for less of a reason, with more willingness to keep going long after your head looks like cherry pudding. They'll always go further on a macro level too, they're the bad guys because they're sociopaths.

No matter how right you are… if violence ensues and you win? You're probably one of the bad people. I don't care if you're protesting against the KKK or NAMBLA or the Black Panthers or ISIS or Nickleback fans.

That's kinda the point of my column:

Donald Trump finally learning about the meaning of free speech?

Other candidates might be bad for free speech once elected. But Trump is the only candidate to actually campaign to reduce our First Amendment rights. This is the guy who said, "There used to be consequences to protesting. There are none anymore. These people are so bad for our country, you have no idea, folks."

On Friday, he canceled a rally in Chicago, citing security concerns. Eyewitnesses reported that there were thousands of protesters outside, and hundreds demonstrating "in unison inside."

Even after it was canceled, there were reports of several outbreaks of violence in the streets after the speech and protesters celebrating by chanting, "We stopped Trump!"

And now, while everyone is trying to play the blame game, Trump ironically asks, "What happened to freedom of speech?"

Read the rest here.

The truth of the braying ass

viaangusOne day on my ventures, following the road that I think Roy used, I saw a braying ass in a field with a broken fence. He was standing in a rotting pile of dead thing, and every kind of animal stood around and listened as he brayed. Sometimes he leaned down to eat a mouthful of dead thing.

I did not leave the road, but I could hear them because they were very loud.

“I will keep you safe from the Man” said the ass. “The Man hates you, but I love you. The Man put this fence around you to hurt you, but I will build a wall around you to help you. It will be tall and excellent. The Man will not be able to come in.”

“Didn’t you help the Man build the fence? I saw you carry this wood for him” said a raven. But the ass made a sound and two goats charged the raven and made it fly away.

“I hate the Man, but you love me. Let me build a wall around you to keep you safe” brayed the ass. “Our field will be great. You will eat grass, roots, and seeds I give you. I won’t let squirrels and rabbits take them away.”

A squirrel said “I am a squirrel. My family is a squirrel family. Can’t they come inside and live with me?” A rabbit said “I think we should study and make plans.” A crow asked, “Didn’t I see you with bags on your back? Didn’t you help the Man carry grass, roots, and seeds away to sell them in the market?”

The ass leaned down to take a bite of dead thing, but four stink foxes ran to the squirrel, the rabbit, and the crow. They sprayed stink on them to make them go away. After they were gone, the braying ass said “I am the one who will help you. Follow me into the woods and we will live without the Man.”

“Doesn’t the Man own the woods and go there to make fence rails?” asked a snake. But a pony trampled the snake dead. Some animals were afraid. But others came up to trample its body.

Then I saw the front eyes. I had met this front eyes before. He had wanted me to help him lead but I had not wanted to lead. He said “Let us follow the braying ass.”

I felt a lot of things but words did not work right in this field. So I emptied my bowels by the road before them and walked away.

From the Trenches at the Nevada Caucuses – Part 3 – Amongst Republicans

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on the Nevada Caucuses. Here is the Previous episode, Part 2

3.0 – I enter the nest of the Republicans

I approached the high school where the Republican Caucus was going to take place as if I were scrambling over rocks to approach Mordor. I hadn't even told that many people where I was going. I calculated the odds in my head… 50-1, I would die here today. Not bad odds, but still. 75-1, sold into slavery. 14-1, gang raped with a plunger like Amadou DialloAbner Louima. Fistfight? Even money.

I got out of my car and started following a woman who seemed to know where she was going. No yoga pants, but it was not unpleasant using her ass as a lighthouse, guiding me to the hive of crazy. I could hear them all chanting some mysterious incantation. Would there be a cross burning? It was goddamned freezing, so if there was, would I just run away? Or would I go warm up by the fire for a bit?

It was like wasp's nest (heh, see what I did there?). There were a lot of them gathered around the entrance, and then a mysterious series of passageways… I took a deep breath… I went in.

People streamed in as if it were a sporting event or a concert. While the Democrats looked like a homogenous group of rummage-sale clothed drones, resigned to lives in the salt mines of life, the Republicans were actually a lot more diverse. There were guys non-ironically wearing cowboy hats, a guy with that helmet where you put beer cans, just with soda cans in it. Mexicans. There was even a black guy — although he was blind. Lots of fat guys in MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hats. Clearly, the Trump crowd was the dominant gang.

All of the "precincts" were tables in a high school cafeteria, but it felt like each table was supposed to be a place where someone would try and sell you Amway products or give you a 1 minute speed networking session. I sat down at my precinct, and still no Yoga pants moms, but there were a few of those Republican women who don't blink. The conversation was scintillating — it was as if someone had put on an episode of "stereotype theater" for me. The woman next to me was SO EXCITED to meet a neighbor, and she immediately asked me "what in the hell is going on with all the break ins around here?" I just looked at her blankly. "Probably because of the new mall," she said. I wondered if that was her code word for "Mexicans." I don't think it was. But, I was inside the Trump hive mind. Anything could happen.

Knowing that this scene could break out into violence, torture, horror at any moment, I chose my words carefully. I tried not to make too much eye contact.

I then explained that the homes on the perimeter of the neighborhood, where the wall to the "outside world" was, well they were getting broken into. But, those of us on the interior, we were all relatively safe. Everyone nodded. She said, "Yup, just too much temptation with that wall there and they see the nice homes, hop over, steal something, someone is going to get hurt."

I decided to conduct an experiment…

I said "yeah, we gotta do something about that… you know what I think? We need to all go to the next Homeowners Association Meeting and demand that they increase our HOA dues to pay for a higher wall around the neighborhood." Everyone nodded with approval. "It isn't our homes being broken into, but if our neighbors' homes get broken into, that's not ok, we gotta stick together!" Everyone was loving the idea. I was making friends.

"They could raise our HOA dues by $100 a month and get us some real security! We can afford it!"

I was very popular at the table by now — what calling for "law and order" and a nice big wall.

I had just called for raising our "taxes" to pay to help other people out… surrounded by MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hats and Cruz buttons.

I laughed inside. I am in you, Republican devils. Ha! Live Republican trolling!

"Don't get cocky," I said to myself. That was really fucking stupid. If they figured out that I had just suggested a tax increase for the common good, they would have torn me apart like salt water taffy, except with bile and the sound of snapping bones and ligaments. I wondered how long the tendons would hold my joints together as they ripped me to shreds.

I realized that unless I actually told them, they wouldn't be able to figure out that I had voted for Obama in 2008, and that I was really rooting for Bernie Sanders.

Then, the unthinkable happened… Out of nowhere comes a friend of mine, Chris. He is a hard core Republican Mormon guy, and he KNOWS that I'm a pro-gay-marriage, Bernie Sanders loving, porn guy.

"MARC, HOW THE HECK ARE YA?" He gives me that "Mormon smile." If you don't know, Mormons can actually make much larger smiles than other humans. That magic seer stone smile filled face of his, and all of a sudden I freeze… "Chris! How the… hi… hey, fancy seeing you here!" As if he would be anywhere else…

He introduces me to his wife, who hugs me like I'm her long lost brother. I hold on just a little longer than I ought to when hugging a friend's wife that I never met before. Not anything creepy, I just knew that I was going to be killed within 10 minutes, and I just wanted one last embrace from a woman. I took a deep whiff of her hair. Not in like a sexy way… I just wanted the smell of a clean Mormon woman's shampooed hair in my lungs as they filled with blood as the Trump supporters took one of many steps toward "Making America Great Again," by stomping on my face screaming "TAKE THAT YOU LASAGNA EATING PIECE OF SHIT!"

Any second now, and Chris was going to out me. Not on purpose. I imagined he would just say "so, what he HECK are YOU doing here! Hey, everyone, my buddy here, he's a Socialist porn lawyer!"

And that would be how I would die.

The crowd was so dense they could just form a circle around me and kick me to death. The sheer number of concealed hand guns in the place was enough to start a genuine revolution, not that hippie Sanders crap. The encounter took all of 25 seconds… but it felt like being on the run for three years behind enemy lines. Everything slowed down. I breathed.

I remembered how MacDonald gets caught by replying in English to a Gestapo agent who wishes him "Good luck". Don't be McDonald. Don't be McDonald… Don't say anything… stupid…

And then he just swirled past, waving over his shoulder. His Marco Rubio pin shining in the light almost as bright as his white white white Mormon teeth. "Mormons are great at dental hygiene," I thought.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. "Can I borrow a pen?"

I screamed: "BERNIE SANDERS, I WANT BERNIE SANDERS TO WIN, OKAY? HE'S FUCKING AWESOME!"

Everything froze for me…, as I say about 5 or 6 times a day, I wondered "did I just say that out loud?" I really wasn't sure… FUCK.

I half expected the entire room to go quiet. Maybe the sound of a record scratching. Then, some big black guys to come up and say "mind if we dance wit' yo' dates?" But who was I kidding? This was the Republican caucus… there was only one black guy here, and he was blind.

The woman just looked at me and smiled… not even a "this guy is crazy" smile, but just a "hi, have you found our lord and savior Jesus Christ" smile. I handed her a pen. "I like him too," she said. "He's honest. But, I just think that Donald Trump has the best chance of making us safe from all that this Muslim traitor has tried to do to destroy our country."

She didn't even skip a beat.

"Did you hear? Today he said he wants to give Guantanamo Bay back to the Castro brothers!"

I said, "well, that was one of his campaign promises, and one of the reasons I voted for him was that I didn't want to have this 'constitution-free zone' in Cuba."

Everyone at the table was interested in what I had to say. I explained why I thought Guantanamo Bay was an awful thing. And they asked questions. And nodded. And… jesus christ… I was now proselytizing total Leftist shit in the middle of a crowd of Trump supporters. I looked around for my Mormon friend. At least he was wearing a Rubio button… and I had given $50 to the Rubio campaign. Maybe he could save me before the Trump-ites held me down and did the Louima thing to me.

"That makes sense," one of them said. "I guess it just feels like surrender. And you have to admit, if you voted for him cuz he said he was gonna do that, and he's just getting around to it, he's sort of a shit, wouldn't you say?"

"yeah…" I shrugged. "You got a point."

We talked for a while. Them all explaining why they liked Trump. Yeah, about half of them had overdosed on Fox News and believed that Obama was a Muslim, and terrorists were hiding under every rock, and Obama had ruined the country. I couldn't quite get what "ruined" meant. But, they were so damned civil. Here I was talking about how I really wanted Bernie Sanders to win, and how we should close Guantanamo Bay, and raise our HOA dues to pay for better security patrols… and the most negative thing anyone said was "oh, that's nice" in a non sarcastic way.

Nobody was arguing with anybody.

I noticed that Jeb Bush and Carly Florina were still listed on the ballots. People started handing their ballots in. The caucus went on until 9:00 PM, giving people four hours in which to come in, shoot the shit about how much they hated Obama, hug each other, talk about getting together some time. Drop off their ballots and be home in time to catch whatever they catch on Fox News.

I won't say these were the smartest people I had ever met, but they sure as hell weren't the sub-humans the press seems to find to represent the "average Trump voter." In fact, as misguided as some might think they are, they weren't any less brilliant than the morons at the Democratic caucuses. The average intelligence level seemed about the same. But, the Republicans were all smiling. They were a group of genuinely happy people. It was totally weird. Their views were angry, but they were not.

That was one big difference. The Democrats were all scared. They were all pissed off. Pissed off at the banks. Pissed off at (and scared of) Trump. The Democrats were fuming about Obamacare being taken away by Sanders (yes really). The Sanders people were pissed off at Hillary for selling us out to the Banks. Everyone was just miserable.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party felt… well… like a party. I all but expected someone to spark up a joint, or at least hand me a flask.

There was no coercion. No union reps walking around watching who was where. The ballots were secret, and you could just vote without sitting in a segregated pen. People discussed the issues, but nobody got bussed in, and nobody seemed to have been told who to vote for by any bow-tied preachers.

There were a few MILFs in yoga pants.

It was weird. I've never voted Republican before, and I don't think I agreed with my neighbors about anything except the need for a wall — around our neighborhood — not on the border. They knew I was a Socialist in their midst, and that I didn't agree with them about anything, except that I didn't want Hillary Clinton to be president.

I think they were nice to me in part because they thought I might be mentally disabled myself, especially given how nervous I was… and what with the outburst about Bernie Sanders. I think they may have actually thought I yelled out FRANKS AND BEANS!

But, all in all, I have to say that while I want the guy on the Left to win, I will be looking up the Trump supporters to have cocktails with.

From the Trenches at the Nevada Caucuses – Part 1.0

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on the Nevada Caucuses.

1.0 I know Dirty… and I know Elections

The big news of the day is Donald Trump's runaway victory in the Nevada Republican caucuses. Along with it, "reports" that the process was tainted, crooked, a Trump flimflam. The "sources" for these reports are almost all people griping on social media.

The Republican caucuses that I observed were either clean or they hired Penn & Teller to handle the shenanigans – because I didn't see a damn thing happen. Maybe it was a little disorganized, but certainly nothing that suggested a dirty election.

I know a dirty election when I see one. In 2004, I was an election observer in Florida, and I saw things that you probably wouldn't believe happened, even if I had video.

Crowds of black voters came in to vote, noting that "volunteers" had come to their neighborhoods to “help” them register to vote. After taking their registration information, these “volunteers” seemed to "forget" to send in the forms. Oopsie!

Ok, perhaps it was just an honest mistake that dozens of people came in with the same story, that a "nice volunteer" came to their house to "help them register," and then their registration forms magically didn't ever get submitted. The black voters, believing they were registered, would not discover the truth until election day – when it was too late to rectify the injustice. “Y’all come back in four years now,” the poll workers said with cheshire smiles and voices as sugary as sweet tea. Some might come back….but, the damage was done for that election.

And in other situations, I recall more than a few voters being told that they weren't registered to vote, even though they personally turned in their voter registration forms on time. When I showed up by his side, all of a sudden, his name would appear.

After I apparently helped too many of them get ballots, a Republican election observer made a call, and ten minutes after the call, a white van screeched to a halt in front of the polling center, and five stocky, buzz-cut white men (one shaved bald) in red shirts barged into the polling station and demanded that I be removed from the polling place. Finally, the gang of five thugs found a corrupt deputy who ejected me from the place under threat of arrest. I was more than happy to go to jail for the cause. But, when I called the HQ, they gave me strict instructions to stand down — their concern was that if voters saw a civil rights attorney getting hauled off in cuffs, it would most scare the shit out of them, and thus likely be the best vote-suppression strategy the Republicans could hope for.

Outside the polling station, I walked over to a chair, and fell into it. I thought that battle ended before I was born. The emotion that sat on my shoulders and collapsed my whole body was shame – shame at being part of a society that still considered equal rights to be a nuisance, shame that I didn’t do more, shame that I was so naive that until Nov. 2, 2004, I truly disbelieved everyone who told me a story like this. But this time I was there. I couldn’t deny that it happened, and I couldn’t deny that what I saw was an organized effort to deny people the right to vote.

That was a dirty election.

So here in Nevada… were the caucuses really dirty? What were they like?

NEXT: Part 2.0 – Wallowing in the Democrats