Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Dan Savage to CNN: Stop the Hate

“We need a cultural reckoning.”

This is Dan Savage’s response to a CNN reporter’s question of how mainstream society can increase acceptance for gays and lesbians. Savage goes on to make his point even more unequivocally: Stop providing hate groups like the Family Research Council to spew hate under the guise of impartial journalism. Said Savage:

“There are no ‘two sides’ to the issue of LGBT rights. Right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on CNN.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently added 13 virulently anti-gay organizations to its list of “hate groups”–a designation based on each group’s propagation of lies against the minorities it wishes to demonize.

Savage lambasts CNN for its seemingly innocuous journalism. Why shouldn’t the cable network question the anti-gay–now officially categorized as hate-mongering–“experts” that it regularly provides a megaphone for?

Filed under: hate, media, , , , , , , , , ,

Want Oil Spill News? Risk a $40K Fine

65 feet.

That’s the distance the federal government and BP have established as a media-free zone around the oil spill. Want to capture images of oil-soaked gulls and endless booms? You’ll have to do it from a distance. Interview BP employees or visit their medical facilities? Not anymore.

Commander Thad Allen, who previously called for–and later promised–media transparency except for safety or security concerns, has now backtracked. TV, radio, print, and citizen bloggers face jail time or a $40,000 fine for violating the order.

Makes you wonder: If the press is not allowed to cover what’s happening in the clean-up efforts, who will?

Filed under: government, media, military, oil spill, , , , , , , , , , ,

BP to Reporter: “What are You Doing Here?”

Vodpod videos no longer available. Seems that BP is giving the press–and its workers–a hard time.

Despite BP’s recent statement that open access is allowed to the press (excepting security or safety concerns), reporters like Dan Harris, in the clip above, are continuously blocked in their efforts to cover the oil spill and its ramifications.

The trickle-down effect of BP officials not speaking to the press extends to the more than 20,000 workers cleaning up the beaches. Harris says that workers are reluctant to speak on camera because they have been told by BP not to do so. After all, who’s going to bite the hand that feeds you?

Workers use absorbent pads to clean oil from the Pelican Rookery near Grand Isle, La., on Thursday. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Still, some of BP’s workers are speaking out. George Jackson, a 53 year-old fisherman in Louisiana, took work for the BP clean-up after the company eliminated any hope for his fishing business. Not only has the disaster affected his livelihood, it has created health problems. Jackson told The Los Angeles Times:

As he was laying containment booms Sunday, he said, a dark substance floating on the water made his eyes burn.

“I ain’t never run on anything like this,” Jackson said. Within seconds, he said, his head started hurting and he became nauseated.

Like other cleanup workers, Jackson had attended a training class where he was told not to pick up oil-related waste. But he said he wasn’t provided with protective equipment and wore leather boots and regular clothes on his boat.

“They [BP officials] told us if we ran into oil, it wasn’t supposed to bother us,” Jackson said. “As far as gloves, no, we haven’t been wearing any gloves.”

Commercial fisher-woman Diane Wilson of Seadrift, Texas, pours a jar of syrup made to look like oil over herself as a police officer drags her from a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing yesterday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Seems that BP’s efforts to contain the bad publicity are failing. In addition to the press and workers talking, activists like commercial fisherwoman Diane Wilson are speaking out. Wilson interrupted a Senate hearing in which Senator Lisa Murkowski sought to limit BP’s liability. Murkoswki has been in bed with the big oil companies nearly $150,000 in campaign funds from the oil industry.

Wilson doused herself in fake oil at the beginning of the session to express her outrage over BP support on Capitol Hill. A powerful action that received lots of media attention and continues the public pressure on BP to act more responsibly.

Filed under: environmentalism, labor, media, oil spill, , , , , , , , , , ,

A Small Rant on Mainstream Coverage of The Philippines

My partner has greenlighted me, despite my misgivings. “Blogs are for rants.”

His comment is in response to my hesitancy to write about the most recent coverage of Filipinos, and the Philippines. It’s the time of year for mainstream media outlets to hype the group of Filipino men nailing themselves to wooden crosses. Each year, around Easter, the story appears in countless news cycles (the previous links are only a sample of more than 300 news reports). Each year, the story exoticizes Filipinos for Western audiences. Each year, the same “Gee whiz, what kind of crazies are over there?” thoughts flash across ignorant minds who do not recognize the story as a small, extreme band of worshippers.

The trouble with the story is not in the faithful worshippers themselves; it is in the annual coverage of the event and the lack of balance in reporting non-sensational Philippine issues. Why doesn’t Reuters or The Huffington Post cover the ongoing problems of sex workers in the Philippines (and the inherent relationship to Western tourists), rather than the twenty-three extremists who “crucified” themselves in the Northern provinces of Pampanga? How does a feature about Imelda Marcos running for office (again) trump coverage of Philippine poverty and abhorrent conditions, created in part by its Amerian imperialist roots?

A quick search of the BBC News found at least one image to balance the incessant sensationalism of the Filipino men who nailed themselves to crosses: this photograph of activists in Makati, the wealthiest area of Manila, raising awareness for the more than 27.6 million poor. According to the UN, the human development in the Philippines has remained stagnant under current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This, it seems to me, is more distressing news that affects millions and millions of Filipinos more than a handful of religious extremists.

The perpetuation of the Philippines, its ongoing exoticism and othering, is clear in its coverage of Philippine outliers like these men–or even a recent viral news story of these Philippine prisoners dancing to pop songs (not to mention the exoticization of champion boxer Manny Pacquiao).

When will mainstream news outlets weigh the national issues of a country more heavily than its entertainment value?

Filed under: media, philippines, , , , , , ,

Obama Calls Out Beck, Limbaugh, Cries of Socialism

Vodpod videos no longer available.

President Obama rationalizes that most Americans don’t believe the hype of his most extreme conservative critics. Is he a socialist? A step away from the next Hitler?

“Well, I think that when you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, it’s pretty apparent, and it’s troublesome,” the President responded. “But keep in mind that there have been periods in American history where this kind of vitriol comes out. It happens often when you’ve got an economy that is making people more anxious, and people are feeling like there is a lot of change that needs to take place. But that’s not the vast majority of Americans. I think the vast majority of Americans know that we’re trying hard, that I want what’s best for the country.”

It’s nice to hear the President himself play down the excess of the media. Just as most Americans don’t believe in the extremism of the teabaggers and their irrational claims (e.g. more than half of the GOP believes the President is a Muslim), Obama notes that he didn’t believe the fauning, positive hype when he was elected.

Though I agree his delivery can be professorial at times, it’s nice to hear his humility and rational thinking as well.

Filed under: media, obama, , , , , , , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
February 2017
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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