Posted by: Ali Davis | November 18, 2016

Now Is When We Become Fire Ants

This bit of amazingness is a cluster of fire ants.

When a fire ant colony gets hit with a flood, they weave their legs together and form a living raft. Together they float until they reach dry land and safety. You’ll note that as long as they cling to each other, you can push them down, but you can’t sink them.

We can do this, we people who are horrified by the bigotry that Trump has brought flooding out into the open. The one good thing about Trump’s bile-spewing candidacy is that he’s been so generous about spreading hostility that it’s been easier than ever to see that our many little groups can form one big raft that protects the whole.

We can do this. We can join together and take our turns in the water so we can buoy the others who need it most at the moment. (Straight white dudes, I know that means you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water. Your willingness to do so may be your finest hour.)

It’s important to remember that while this living fire ant raft will save us, it doesn’t look comfortable or fun. Those of us who have some form of daily privilege – white skin, cisgender bodies, and so much more – need to embrace discomfort, need to learn to walk straight into it. If we truly want to change hearts and minds, we need to stay polite, yes. But not so polite that we don’t mention harassment, big or small, when we see it. We need to step up and challenge it, big or small.

It will not feel polite or comfortable or fun to challenge that family member who is ranting about Muslims or immigrants. It will not feel polite or comfortable to shut down someone who’s talking about pussy-grabbing or getting a woman the right level of drunk. It will not feel polite or comfortable to put the brakes on someone who starts off a line of racist nonsense with “This may not be politically correct…” or claims that Trump says what she’s been thinking.

Get used to the phrase “Hey. That’s not cool.” And get used to being accused of being no fun or of overreacting. I say this as a person who used to get paid to be funny until this election blasted my sense of humor into a lump of cold lead: Those “jokes” people are making? The ones where men walk up to a woman and say har har, they can grab her pussy now? Or the jokes about people getting deported? Or the white girl who snapchatted that she’ll be a benevolent slave owner once Trump makes it legal? Those are not fucking jokes. They are a way of asserting power by spreading fear, and they are not acceptable in a decent society.

It will not be comfortable. Sometimes it will feel scary. But we’re all part of the raft, and we’re in this together, so we have to do it.

Hey, here’s a great cartoon about how to peacefully support someone who’s getting harassed in public.

http://www.themarysue.com/bystanders-harassment-guide/

And here is the excellent Jay Smooth with advice on how to point out that something another person says is problematic without making the other person immediately dismiss that point of view and close his ears to reason.

 

And one more thing: The bigots and harassers need to learn that we share another thing with fire ants: You rarely get to mess with just one of them.

They will learn that if you hassle a Muslim, the gays are coming for you too. If you attack a person of color, the women are also coming after you. If you harass an immigrant or an Asian or a transwoman or a Latinx or a pagan or a lesbian or a Jew or any one of us, we are ALL coming for you. We will shout you down, and we will shame you. Because we do not tolerate that behavior in a decent society. The first amendment gives you every right to be an asshole. It does not give you the right to do so unchallenged.

We will check in on each other. We will listen to anyone in the raft who feels attacked. We will watch for subtle aggressions we might have missed before and we will make sure everyone gets home OK.

And we will swarm the hell out of our elected representatives – federal, state, and local – until they fix this, or we will vote them out and run our damn selves.

We are fire ants now. And together we will get through this.

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Posted by: Ali Davis | November 10, 2016

A Response to Garrison Keillor’s Washington Post piece

A Response to Garrison Keillor’s Delightful Opinion Piece

Dear Mr. Keillor,

I read your piece in the Washington Post. It’s meant to comfort us, to let us know that calm life will go on, and we liberals can relax while the Republican elites and the Trumplings fight it out and get disillusioned. You say we liberals can relax and grow heirloom tomatoes while the uneducated white men who voted for Trump (you’re a little off on those stats, sir – a horrifying amount of the educated, moneyed white middle class voted for him too) get hit first and hardest.

The problem, sir, is that your relaxation plan only works if you are straight, white, male, cisgender, and fairly rich. And, frankly, it only works if you’re a little apathetic and clueless. Because the rest of us are already getting hit.

You may not be aware, sir, that women are advising each other to get IUDs right now. (That’s a form of long-acting reversible contraceptive. My apologies if I’m over-explaining. I’m not sure how far your bubble reaches.) We’re doing that because we just voted in a regime that is incredibly hostile to birth control and would very much like to yank health insurance for many of us. Women are literally worried that they won’t be able to get reliable birth control over the next four years. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but for the non-wealthy, unplanned children tend to be a bit of a life hitch.

I’m queer, sir, and I’ve been thinking about getting an IUD too. Technically my orientation is bisexual or fluid, but in practical real-life terms I haven’t dated men in a long time. And frankly there are many aspects of this election that have made you fellas a bit of a tough sell for the near future. My plans involve dating women and with luck ending up with one.

But I’ve had to take time to think about getting an IUD, Mr. Keillor, because I’m in my fertile years, and we just voted in Mike Pence, who doesn’t want me to be able to make my own decision about what to do if I get raped and I conceive as a result.

I don’t think you’ve ever had to do that, sir – plan ahead for your potential rape, I mean. It isn’t fun.

And this isn’t the first time women have had to think about that. During the Obamacare fight, and again after, Republicans have pushed to keep health insurance plans from covering contraception and abortions. They wanted to require women who were concerned about perhaps getting raped and needing an abortion to pay for extra coverage. And now those same Republican legislators have run the table.

That’s a hell of a gamble to ask us to make, sir. Will you think about it during your jolly card games over the next four years?

I mentioned insurance and Obamacare back there. You may not think about this because your insurance premiums are an annoyance, at best, but 20 million people are about to have their health insurance yanked away. Some people will be priced out of having insurance itself, or be unable to get it because of pre-existing conditions.

But for plenty of people, it means having their current cancer treatments cut off. It means having a clear end date for their lives. I hope that won’t add a troubled note to your smelling of the roses.

Oh, and about that being bisexual thing. As you are meditating and attending your yoga classes, I hope you aren’t troubled by the thought that this year’s Republican platform had the most hostile position to LGBT rights they have ever had. Mike Pence himself signed legislation to allow people – Christians, really, ones like him – to, as a matter of “conscience,” discriminate against us. He wants it to be OK to refuse to let us eat in restaurants or rent homes or have a job.

Many of us are married, sir, with children. My married friends are left wondering if their unions will be legally dissolved and what their rights are in keeping custody of their own children. Many who hoped to adopt are wondering if that will ever happen.

I don’t know, sir, if in your relaxing reading, you came across the way the Republican Party has treated transfolk over the past year. Leave alone the fact that transgender people can be fired just for being transgender in most states. That’s old news that they’ve been dealing with, along with the sickening amount of violence directed at them. But this year, Republicans made another push to legislate transfolk out of public bathrooms.

You may not know if you’ve met a transwoman, sir, so I’ll help you out: She looks like a woman. Because she is one. Imagine asking her to walk into a crowded men’s room at a football game. That’s what the legislation would require her to do. Imagine someone like you, maybe even a man with a beard, being asked to walk into a ladies’ room at a crowded shopping mall. That’s what transmen would be required to do. Could you do it?

The people who push for those laws don’t really want to force transfolk to have to walk into the wrong bathroom, of course. The intent is to force them out of public space entirely. To will them into nonexistence.

Mike Pence wants that for all members of the LGBT community, actually. He’s a fan of conversion therapy, including electroshock. These people want us gone.

Did you know that there was a spike in calls to LGBT suicide hotlines as election night wore on, sir, one that hasn’t been seen in years? I hope that didn’t ruin the taste of your fine sipping Scotch.

You have a smooth Midwestern accent, Mr. Keillor, and very white skin like mine. Which means, if I may hazard a guess, that no stranger has ever screamed at you that he hopes you will be deported. But that is happening, sir, all over the country. My neighborhood is very mixed, with a robust Muslim population. I see women wearing hijabs all the time. They run local shops, they work out at my YMCA, and they push children in strollers. The ones who live in my building and on my block smile and nod or stop to chat for a bit on fine days.

Except for the awful days, when women in hijabs disappear from even my diverse, liberal, urban neighborhood, because they’re afraid of physical harm. They disappeared yesterday, Mr. Keillor, right after Trump’s election. Can you imagine, sir, a woman on your block being afraid to go outside while wearing a cross? Can you really think about that without being put off of your craft beers and birdwatching?

And, of course, removing religious headgear can’t hide the color of one’s skin or  gender. The last two days have already seen a revolting rise in racist and religious harassment and violence, with some threats of sexual assault thrown in for flavor.

Really, sir? Can you see any of this and relax? Can you really do anything other than rage and cry and then hit the damned streets to stand against it?

My Jewish friends are being hit with waves of disgusting anti-Semitism too. And they, like Muslims and all people of color, are dealing with the reality of the fact that we have a President who openly courted white supremacist groups, who winked and played footsie with actual Nazis. It’s common for liberals to moan about moving to Canada, but I’ve already had two different Jewish friends talk to me about the decisions their grandparents and great-grandparents made to stay or leave their European homes, and which ones survived those decisions.

I’m watching my friends, in modern America, try to calculate whether it’s safe to stay here in the lives they’ve built.

Which is slightly different than the calculations my black friends make, who have long had to worry about getting shot by the police. Can you wrap your head around that, sir? Feeling that your strongest self-preservation instinct is to run away from the police instead of to them in times of crisis? Do you think that situation will improve, now that many Trumplings feel they have been deputized and empowered to “take the country back” through verbal harassment and open physical attack?

One of the lone stocks that has skyrocketed since the election is for for-profit prisons. Are you aware of the vast difference in conviction and incarceration rates for people of color? In which direction do you think that will be moving over the next four years?

Your airy complacence, Mr. Keillor, is part of the problem.

You go ahead and garden and meditate if you really can stomach it. The rest of us have seen enough to know that we need to stand up and take care of each other. We have to get out there and fight. We don’t have a choice.

Posted by: Ali Davis | May 8, 2016

This is never easy.

Lance, could you come in here?

Sure, brah.

As you know, we took a bit of a chance bringing you on here at Royal Bakeries–

But so worth it, right? I NAILED it yesterday.

Well, let’s review.

Sure thing.

The king put in a lunchtime order for — let me make sure I have this correct — “Something simple. Maybe just a pasty or a grilled cheese and fruit or something.”

Yup. Talked to the Order Wench myself.

And what you sent over was an enormous pie containing two dozen blackbirds.

I knew it was my shot and I wanted to rock it.

OK. Let’s go back over this. You know the king likes chicken and goose and quail. Have you ever heard him mention blackbirds as a food preference?

No, but did you know that if you go to market, you can get like eight blackbirds for the price of one goose?

There’s a reason for that.

I’m all “If he’s in the counting-house counting out his money, let’s show him how far we can make that money go and still be epic,” right?

OK. Let’s talk about the choice to not cook or even kill them.

Thinking outside the box, brah! I call the oven the box.

I deduced that. So when the king tucks into the enormous pie that’s been sent over as a simple lunch, he’s suddenly confronted by the screeching of twenty-four terrified blackbirds that have been crammed together in the dark under a pie crust.

Fuckin’ dainty, right?

Well, the first thing we need to do is have you look up the word “dainty.”

Whoa.

Yes.

Bro, that is so not what I thought it meant.

So I gathered.

You’re saying he didn’t like it.

His Majesty totally lost count. And his appetite.

Oh, dude.

And you would not believe the workman’s comp claim the maid just filed.

So this is it? I am wicked bummed.

Look, it’s obvious that you’re a hard worker and you meant well. I’ll tell you what: I hear they need workers for the London Bridge crew. I’ll give you a good recommendation.

Awesome, brah! I’ve already got some great ideas.

Posted by: Ali Davis | November 20, 2015

One liberal’s case for letting in Syrian refugees

1.) Cowardice is allowing fear to make you drop your highest principles. Bravery is seeing the fear and moving forward anyway because it’s the right thing to do.  We are not a nation of cowards.

2.) Shutting out Syrian refugees is EXACTLY what Daesh wants us to do.  I’m not just theorizing that — that comes from a Frenchman who was a hostage of Daesh for nearly a year .

A terrorist organization works like a pyramid scheme — you have to keep drawing in recruits to keep it going, especially if they’re suicide bombers. Daesh cannot draw in  and keep new recruits unless they can paint us as inhuman monsters. The United States shutting out innocent Syrian refugees would be a win/win for them. They can paint us as bigots who hate and fear any Muslim, and thus an enemy that must be destroyed. They can also point to the heartlessness of sending people who have already been tortured away to starve and die. Not to mention the fact that the refugees are running from Daesh because they’re already being persecuted. Daesh would love to see them suffer more.

When we give in to terror, we by definition are playing right into the terrorists’ hands. We do live in dangerous times. But I’d rather be brave at a risk — less risk than we have faced from home-grown white supremacists over the last 15 years — than pretend we’re perfectly safe because we pulled a bigoted, chickenshit move and shut out all the brown Muslims. The French, who have had two major, horrific attacks in a year, are still strong enough to let in refugees. Are they really that much braver than we are?

If we really want Daesh to stop pulling in new recruits, we have to be at our most courageous, most compassionate best. That means enjoying life in ways they hate and showing the world that we know the fight is against scumballs, not Muslims.

There’s nothing wrong with being angry and afraid, but let’s not be so angry and fearful that we do exactly what the terrorists want.

Posted by: Ali Davis | June 26, 2015

Love is Love After All.

I spent a chunk of 2008 spending my Tuesday nights (and a couple of Thursdays, and a couple of weekend shifts with friends) phone banking to try to stop California’s Prop 8 — a ballot measure that would take gay marriage away from a state that already had marriage equality.

We had lists of people who were presumed swing voters, so mostly I talked to very nice and supportive people, helping them untangle the fact that you had to vote NO to support marriage equality. (I still have no idea how many votes we lost on that one toward the end, we found out that one anti-gay group was calling likely liberals and saying “Remember, vote YES to support gay marriage!” Because if there’s one thing that shows you have a just cause, it’s lying.)

But I didn’t always talk to nice and supportive people. Sometimes there was a queasy silence and then they said they supported Prop 8. The end of those phone calls were an interesting illustration of how politeness quietly keeps society from collapsing.

I had a couple of people get in my face while I was flyering on the street, usually men who would get right up in my face, mutter “Yes on 8” so no one else could hear, and then walk away.

And, insanely, as the weeks went on, the tide turned more and more against us. Ads ran that California schoolchildren would be… taught to be gay? Or something? Even though we already had gay marriage and that schoolkid thing hadn’t happened yet? The ads never seemed to make sense, but they worked. We lost ground every week.

On election night, I flyered until well after dark, texting election results with friends. I remember heading back to my No on 8 headquarters and reassuring one of the reps that those two small-looking blue spots on the state of Virginia were where are the people were. But I didn’t check the ballot measure results. We knew we were losing.

I raced off to watch Obama’s speech with friends. One kept trying to look up the Prop 8 results on the Internet for me and I kept begging him to stop. I wanted to be able to enjoy the national election results without having to think about what California might have done.

And deep in my heart, I still had hope that we wouldn’t lose. I lived in California, for Chrissakes. Yes, I had had some teenage boys scream at me that I was “sick” that night, but surely they were an anomaly. I had to believe that basic humanity would win out.

I was numb after I looked at the results the next morning. Obama had won, but we had lost. I went out too late to get a newspaper — everyone wanted the front page. I ran pointless, fruitless errands, came home, and then slid down the back of my front door and sat on the floor, crying. Enough people in my big hippy granola thought there was something so fundamentally wrong with people like me that they had changed the law. It brought the prejudice home in the way that individual slights never had.

The backlash was justifiably enraged. The streets filled, over and over. Protests filled West Hollywood, then downtown. One of the marches surrounded the Mormon Temple, then spilled out of its authorized boundaries to take over Wilshire Boulevard. At the time, it felt like impotent fury. I wish I could go back and reassure myself about how much good it would end up doing.

Because the cartoonish injustice of Prop 8 — taking marriage away from a group that already had it — is what really showed the nation how disgusting and ridiculous the anti-equality laws really were. And gradually, the national mood turned from “What’s the big deal?” and “It makes me uncomfortable” to open mockery of people who were still backward enough to try to stop two consenting, loving adults from getting married.

It took an outrage. But after that, it took less than a decade.

Today I’m crying because I’m looking at pictures of my married friends who can stay married no matter what state they’re in, because I’m looking at pictures of the Dallas County men who have been together for 55 years and can finally make it legal. Love is love after all.

Remember that. Remember that always. Remember that when you feel like your cause is lost and no one supports you. You can change the hearts of millions of people. You can help make a positive difference in the world. People will see you, and they will begin to understand.

Happy Pride. Celebrate well. Love who you love.

“OK, so I’ve finished my efficiency analysis.”

“And?”

“We can save a whole bunch of water and like 30 tanks of gas if we don’t take the giant truck full of musicians.”

“Out of the question.”

“You can’t even hear them over all the engines–”

“We are not going without the Battle Musicians.”

“Can we at least leave behind all the cumbersome brass instruments that nobody even plays?”

“NO.”

“What if we had a rule that they play when we’re not fighting, but then they have to actually fight when we’re fighting?”

“They are musicians. They are sensitive.”

“Then maybe we should just blast a CD–”

“Shut up and put your chalk on.”

Posted by: Ali Davis | December 9, 2014

My Commute Home, as Enhanced by My iPod Classic

HEY, ALI, HERE IS SOME INXS.

Oh, hey! Haven’t heard that in a while. Thanks!
GOOD SONG, RIGHT?
Yup!
IT’S THE ONE THING
Uh huh.
YOU ARE MY THING
Yeah, good song.
YOU MEAN THAT?
Of course.
BECAUSE HERE IS SOME MORE INXS!
Hey, spontaneous rock block! Thanks!
THE BAND STILL HOLDS UP, RIGHT?
Definitely.
GOOD, BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? MORE INXS!
Oh.
WHAT?
It’s just… You know. You’re on shuffle.
SKIPPING DIMINISHES US BOTH, ALI.
I just want some variet-
FINE. HERE IS A DIFFERENT BAND.
Thank you.
…FOLLOWED BY SOME INXS!
It’s a perfectly good band and a perfectly good song, but —
YOU GAVE ME A CLEAR INDICATION THAT YOU LOVE THEM
They’re fine! Skip!
FORGOT THERE WERE THIS MANY SONGS ON THE ALBUM, DIDN’T YOU?
Give me something different!
FINE. HERE IS EVERY SONG YOU’RE SICK OF, RIGHT IN A ROW. HAPPY NOW?
Oh, for –
AND THIS ONE.
Rrgh!
THIS ONE TOO.
You’re not getting to me.
STOP SKIPPING AND TAKE YOUR PUNISHMENT LIKE A WOMAN.
No.
WHY DO YOU EVEN OWN THIS ONE?
I can’t remember. Shut up.
BET YOU’RE STARTING TO MISS INXS NOW, AREN’T YOU?
I can keep this up as long as you can.
OH, YEAH? BECAUSE MY BATT–

Posted by: Ali Davis | October 8, 2014

The First Taste is Free.

Your very own sample of the brand-new True Porn Clerk Stories audiobook. Please enjoy.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/171184519%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-9Gif5&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

Posted by: Ali Davis | August 13, 2014

An Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

First off, keep doing the important work you’ve been doing of spreading kindness everywhere. There’s nothing that helps comfort surviving family members more than coming up with a one-phrase explanation for someone’s suicide.

You did, however, get something wrong in your recent statements about the tragic death of Robin Williams. That’s uncharacteristic, so I knew you would want to be alerted right away.

I know it must indeed seem to you like liberals are never happy. We’re always hand-wringing over people who are addicted to prescription drugs or fretting over some totally imaginary evil like child sex tourism. It’s such a stark contrast to your relentlessly cheerful and upbeat show.

But I want to reassure you that we do experience happiness every now and then.

We are happy during the Gay Pride parades, when we throw our gay-soaked beads into the crowds, knowing that the minute they touch bare skin, we have started the process of breaking up innocent straight families.

We are happy when we force schools to use textbooks that say that slavery in America existed and was bad, because nothing turns a child to dope and Paganism faster than an understanding of historic inequalities.

We are happy each time another day passes and our liberal media once again fails to report that dioxin in the groundwater not only cures cancer, it causes supervirility and a hardy entrepreneurial spirit.

We are happy during our ceremonies for the Horned God of the Forest, when we sacrifice a rich man — always a straight, white rich man — and blend him into kale smoothies that we feed to the bunnies and deer.

And we are happy again when we distribute that rich straight white man’s goods to the poor. But only the undeserving poor, the ones sitting in their yards drinking beer while endorsing their ill-gotten government handout checks and not even looking for a biochemical engineering job.

We are happy when we chortle into the sleeves of our summer parkas, knowing we have fooled 99.5% of all the scientists in the world with our global warming hoaxes.

We are happy when we run over coal and oil executives with our Priuses.

We are ecstatically happy once a year when our Dark Queen Rachel Maddow opens the gates to the vast, completely undeveloped plains where we have hidden all the lions and tigers and polar bears and we frolic and gambol among them. And you know what? They like to be hunted. They love it. But we won’t, because if there is one thing that makes us extra happy, it is being killjoys.

When the evening comes, we use our vast stockpiles of free birth control to have our joyous annual latte-and-quinoa-fueled orgy, where there are only three rules:

  1. Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the law.
  2. Except for this list of government safety regulations.
  3. No straight sex unless it’s part of a threesome.

And we are happy whenever Neil Degrasse Tyson speaks, because he is awesome.

Other than that, you’ve pretty much got us nailed.

Sincerely,

Liberals

Posted by: Ali Davis | September 25, 2013

An open letter to KABC-TV Los Angeles

Dear KABC,

I just want to compliment you on that awesome news promo last night!

You started off strong, letting viewers know that a man has been “robbing and raping” his way across Southern California.

Excellent turn of phrase! Way to grab the ear! Way to let people know that this is about some dude on a spree, like in a super-cool anti-hero movie, and not someone doing something horrible that people should actually think about.

A lesser news writer might have gone with “Police are seeking a serial rapist for multiple sexual assaults,” but your team knew that that sounded way less fun. It might even make people think about the victims a little bit. Downer.

But that’s just icing, really. It’s not even close to the most awesome part of the promo. 

The best part was when you let viewers know that if they wanted to know what all the victims had in common, they would have to tune in at 11:00.

Sure, some boring-ass lame-O at another station might suggest that the fact that this rapist is targeting women who work in massage parlors is a vital piece of information to actual living, feeling human beings who are in danger. That lame-O might have suggested that you could just give out that information as a public service so that the women who are being targeted could take steps to try to protect themselves and, you know, not get raped.

But you awesome geniuses at KABC know that news is not about getting important information to the public. It’s about buzz and advertising dollahs.

You and everyone involved in that promo made sure to keep the most important thing in mind: That ladies afraid of getting raped just means eyeballs on your newscast. Plus it’s not like ladies who work in massage parlors are real ladies with lives that might get shattered, right?

Anyway, good job all around on making sure you treat the women in your audience like nonhuman commodities and rape as a particularly titillating lead-in to your newscast. I’m sure it will earn you booming ratings and high marks for creativity and innovation when you get to Hell.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any praise for the show itself.

I didn’t get around to watching it because fuck you.

Sincerely,

Ali Davis

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