February 27, 2004

Trackback on the Clap Clap one track claptrack

A reader comment:
Name: Hannah Tubman
Email Address: hannah_tubman@fastmail.fm
URL: http://natality.blogspot.com

It is unfortunate that you have failed to truly engage with Mr Claps' post regarding the sundry options we have to fight sex slavery and the institutionalized abuse of children around the world.

My question to you is, if you believe that we ought to stifle free speech, which is what jokes about child rape is, because through such efforts we will be able to terminate the practice of coercing children into making sexually exploitative material for the underground mass market of the stuff, then what else are you doing with your time? Do you regularly give money to charities that provide protection for victims of domestic violence and shelters for teenage runaways, most of whom are fleeing abusive situations?

Or do you favor lobbing distorted, self-righteous tirades at intelligent music critics and pop stars simply because they highlight the absurd and macabre severity of the violence in our world?

However you feel about the nature of my questions, I would encourage you explore the intersections of intimacy violence and the ways in which assaults against children can be stopped or minimized while preserving the spirit of free speech and public discourse.

After that, I will be interested in hearing how you situate your arguments about the suppression certain activities now protected by the First Amendment and follow you wherever it leads.
I'm listening.

I am glad your listening, because I have something to tell you:

I did not engage with Mr. Clap-Clap because I did not find his argument, as well-reasoned in his opinion as it is, to be really very engageable. I don;t agree with his process, or his fundamental jumping off point, so engaging him is not really where I felt like taking it. I think that government enforcement of the rights and protection of children is a part of whats needed, but that to start there -- ie. running for gov't and reforming from the top down is slow and ineffective and does not get us to a place of safety in any sort of sweeping and immediate way. Because legislation does not stop rape, and not only would you be having to reform policy, you would have to be reforming government just to get certain things in place...

I was not making the point that stopping rape jokes about children was going to stop child rape, I was making the point that a flippant reactionary re-dressing READ MY BLOG ploy of that nature is, at a generous best, crass. Speaking as a someone who has many friends and women I care about who have been raped and assaulted as adults and in their childhood -- My childhood bestfriend started being raped by her dad at age 4, so when people get all Vice-Magazine up in this chowder-wagon for yuks, you know, I don't have much affinity for that shit.

And, no, I don't give money to shelters that help teenage girls, regularly, I volunteer to work with teenage girls regularly, as I feel like mentorship and direct contact goes a lot further than $50 checks do. I also feel like discussing and writing about the plight of young women in the world, on a regular basis in forums that are both small scale and personal (like this) or more national-level (see my column in Punk Planet issues 60, 59, 56, 54, 52, 51, 47, 46 as well as issue 61 which hits the streets in three weeks where I specifically address the role of journalism in ebbing the child-sex trafficking domestically and internationally) are currently the best tools that I have to impact the situation personally. Thanks for asking and thanks for writing!

Also, I think people should be called on thier shit whether they are intellegent music critics ( I am one of those two, effectively Mister Clap's peer! Lucky him!) or magical donkeys.

Unicorn Horn Speaks

Posted by Jessica at February 27, 2004 12:18 PM | TrackBack

Now that was a clap back!

Posted by: peterlaughner at February 27, 2004 01:34 PM

I just want you to think about that although white men commit heinous crimes against children probably at the same frequency, you're dream about a child molester had R Kelly in it and you frequently refer to R Kelly as if he is emblematic of the problem, in fact as if his name is enough to symbolize the problem.

Many of the people on sex tours are not black, and are white. Yet who is it that is the "public face" of this problem? A black man.

Posted by: jackson at February 27, 2004 07:57 PM

wow this sounds deep. wish i could weigh in on the topic, espically since one of these posters brings up the issue of the "black face" MJ and R. Kel. I'd really like to weigh in. Yet I feel I missed something and don't even feel qualified to do so.

the recent reports that uncovers the fact that catholic priests have seriously been molesting and raping males kinds of puts a shift in this conversation when you bring up the point of the "black face." but again, i suppose i should be reading this blog more closely to be fully engaged.

Posted by: lynne at February 27, 2004 10:20 PM

Dear Tiny Horn,

Thank you for responding to my comment, even though you claimed to have given up on the thread.

I see know that my comments about what you are personally doing to halt sex slavery and intimacy abuse are largely unecessary, as it seems, since you have devoted a good deal of your life to abolition of such abuse.

Your strategic point about the plain fact that these widespread, largely undiscussed, and carefully privatized, ignored, and denied crimes will simply not be halted from a top down method have merit, but are not the whole story. Laws and other public prohibitions against abuse actually do stop some, such as lynching and some public gang rapes. I would speculate that this is especially true in those kinds of assaults which take places in certain regions of a country (think post 1877 America, 1994 Rwanda), but are under a broader authority. Such an authority can reduce violence, especially in emergencies, in such a top-down fashion.

I would agree with you that that is not the whole story. I think it is important to call people on indiscretions that tend to reinforce cycles and incidents of oppression. However, we must bear in mind that chastising people for what is obviously a joke (who really is publicly in favor of child pornography and slavery?), then we risk losing a potential ally who is expressing an uncomfortability about an issue or, much more sadly, we are simply refusing to hear the cries from actual victims. Because while some may be attempting to put people in place with humor, others are trying to liberate themselves and others through the word. For instance, should we chastise Richard Pryor for talking about police abuse? This seems to me a bit inapprorpriate.

And it really does come down to context specific situations, I think. For instance, I generally find off-hand comments that make light of the horror of rape to be unacceptable and those that attempt to lessen the severity of specific acts of violence to be totally so, unless, again, it is an effort at coping with terror. But in that case, we have to be willing to engage, and I think yelling at people simply for offering a joke on a topic to be impractical and mean.

Finally, I think the point abou "the public face of child abuse" is incredibly important. I think the first lesson about Michael Jackson's arrest for child abuse was a message to African-Americans: "Do not be a successful black men." The second lesson was "Adult victims of child abuse should be punished." And the third was "Black men are rapists of women and children."

Powerful expressions of white supremacy. To fight them requires public dialogue.

I hope I have been able to address your points. If not, I invite you to please instruct me as to where I have made an error or omission.

Posted by: Hannah Tubman at February 28, 2004 09:27 PM

I dreamt of R Kelly, yes, but he is not, in my estimation, my most public face of the child-rape problem. To me, he is the amalgamation of the problem of celebrity. To me, he is not the "black face" of child rape. To me, I view R kelly as a triple threat kind of issue -- -- Celebrity -- that in his circle, in entertainmentland, in Chicago, it was well know for years that he was having sex with very young girls ( not women) -- to the point that after his arrest, young girls were interviewed outside their JR HIGH SCHOOL and said that R was known for frequenting the parking lot, crusing for women, since they were in 6th grade.... After two attempts by someone w/in his personal-employ circle circulating forward a tape to Jim DeRogatis, was anything brought to light, despite several out of court legal settlements with young girls... and still, still, R is just powerchilling, periodically having to have little hearings here and there, but not sentanced, barely addressed. That issue is symptomatic of the issue of sex crimes not being taken seriously, but also of the baby gloves that are worn for celebrities. Lets not turn in someone who is havingsex with a 13 year old because it might put us out of a job, it might blow our ride -- common issue surrounding band dudes and celebs....

Secondly, R kelly, for me, is not the public face of sex trafficking because there is no face of sex trafficking, it's face is secreted, and it's face is everywhere. not to be poemic, but I feel like the perpetration is so secret is is anywhere, it is everywhere, the systems and motions and machinations that fuel the economy of child sex enslavement, the USE of children, the illegal sex trades, capitalism to it's boundless extreme -- it is so deep within the quiet, surging bloodstream of America, every half action, most purchases, every ad, every laissez-faire Target shopper -- is a parcel to it's insidiousness.

lastly, R Kelly is a topic for me because I really like R Kelly. He has SIX SINGLES in heavy roation between the three hometown stations that will still play him. R Kelly, again, to me, is symbolic of general badness, of systemic ills, and I have to reconsile that we live in a world / I work within an industry where despite their being footage of him that is DVD-viewable of him having sex with women who are not yet of high school age, he is on the cover of magazines as MAN OF THE YEAR. I feel that this solidifies that commerce has trumped human decency entirely, and I feel that that is a grave, grave prospect for all people.

Posted by: Unicorn Handmaiden at February 29, 2004 02:49 PM

tiny adedendum:
This should read:
lastly, R Kelly is a topic for me because I really like R Kelly's music, whether I want to or not.

Posted by: Unicorn Handmaiden at February 29, 2004 02:52 PM

Hearing your comments I think explain a lot but you totally did not talk about race in that and I really honestly do not believe there are many people in this country who are free from the long legacy of racism regarding how black men are thought of in terms of crime. I'm not trying to call you out or anything by the way, I hope you didn't take it like that.

The fact he's black and the long history of this country in demonizing black men --- really f-ing serious racist conceptions not just fooling around parttime racism, but stuff that literally tries to make black men animals (for example people still use the word "predator") -- are you saying that plays no part in how R Kelly is seen or used? By not addressing race, racsim does not "go away".

The information you gave about how messed up a person R Kelly is, I thought he was a totally horrible person but that new info is really stark. He really needed to have been stopped a long time ago. I very much agree the exploitation of kids is embedded in this culture to an extent I think is really very pervasive. I also think that part of the reason for it not stopping is the celebrity culture and the other reasons you give.

However, I think in a situation in which race is an issue, and I really believe when black men are publized for crimes its an issue until proven otherwise given we live in a racist society, race matters.

I also unfortunately like R Kelly's music and that Africa song I like a lot. Which sucks, because R Kelly sang it.

Posted by: jackson at February 29, 2004 08:15 PM

R Kelly exists in a society that is racist and uses any example, no matter how unrepresentative, to illustrate its bizarre fantasy that Black men are beasts and White men are gods. It is the fundament of American society's social, economic, and sexual institutions, so at this point, all it requires is simply indifferent adherence to old habits: such as stereotyping Black men as predators.

However, I don't think we have to be sad that we like good music that comes from people who are bad in some ways.

Jason S Clark

Posted by: Hannah Tubman at February 29, 2004 08:41 PM

I really like the way the dialogue has shifted here. You do not normally get dialogue, MEANINGFUL dialogue here. Here as in the internet, here as in my blog as well.

Posted by: Corn-a-copia of Unicornica at February 29, 2004 09:31 PM

I appreciate that Jackson pointed at precisely my omissions in the kiddie porn, race, joke response: race.

But since race can function so effectively as a weapon, as can humor, and I frankly think that less flexible critiques of humor, a la MacKinnon -- who's work I hold in extraordinarily high regard -- are difficult to apply to situations in which within the same historical juncture we have the idolization of people like Strom Thurmond who almost assuredly raped his family's Black domestic servant and then went on to fight every civil rights accomplishment in the last half century, the popularization of R Kelly, who made porn films of his scatalogical pedophilia, and the criminalization of Michael Jackson, who is -- admit it -- a freaked out man-child who suffered a great deal of abuse.

If honest invective and irony are not options in whatever war we wage, we will not win among the survivors, sustained as they are by clowns and preachers alike.

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