- Heat Persists
- Covid Updates
- Fire Fatality
- Memory Lane
- No Fair
- Miners Cabin
- Chipper News
- Hay For Sale
- Swimming Hole
- Co-op Closed
- Ed Notes
- Old Greenwood/Elk
- Vogel Complaint
- Mulheren Response
- Wildlife Vote
- Yesterday's Catch
- Recreational Drugs
- Abalone Fishing
- Gender Differences
- Alder Creek
- Press Freedom
- Boutique Activism
- Chief Arsonist
- Cheesecake Proclamation
- Found Object
HOT AND DRY weather will persist over the interior through the week. However, a thermal trough bringing warmer temperatures to coastal Del Norte and Humboldt counties will begin to ease a bit. (NWS)
HEALTH OFFICER COVID-19 UPDATE – JULY 15, 2020
Post Date: 07/15/2020 9:39 PM
Today Mendocino County was informed of our first COVID-19 related death—Mr. George Chadwick (14th case) by his daughter-in-law Mary Chadwick. Mr. Chadwick died in a Marin County outpatient rehabilitation facility, after being hospitalized at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Hospital with COVID-19. As his passing was in another county, the family received the death certificate first and informed Mendocino County that COVID-19 is listed as a cause of death. Mendocino County will request the death certificate from Marin County tomorrow morning. Mendocino County mourns the passing of Mr. Chadwick and celebrates his life along with his family and community. He was a well-loved community member that touched many lives. Mary wrote to Health Officer Dr. Doohan, “Our dad was amazing! He left quite a legacy!”
The announcement of Mendocino County’s first COVID-19 death comes at a time when 6 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across all 3 Adventist Hospitals in Mendocino County, an outbreak at Sherwood Oaks Skilled Nursing home in Fort Bragg is rapidly evolving (5 residents and 2 employees) and the total number of cases countywide reached 165 with 66 in active isolation and 123 in active quarantine. Regarding the hospitalizations, Jason Wells CEO of our local Adventist Health hospitals stated, “We currently have six patients between our three hospitals and for the first time all three hospitals have COVID positive patients at the same time. Our teams have been training for this for months and we are at our best when we are bringing the essential care our community needs. I could not be more proud of the exceptional nurses, physicians, housekeepers and support teams who are all heroes in my book. We are ready for this.” Of the hospitalizations 2 are at the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital, 3 at Howard Memorial Hospital and 1 at Adventist Health Ukiah Hospital.
On July 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health announced a new State Order with restrictions that apply to ALL 58 counties for bars, restaurants and other indoor business operations as part of statewide actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Following this announcement Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan issued revised orders aligning our local orders with the new statewide restrictions. The Governor also directed counties that remain on the county monitoring list for 3 consecutive days (32 counties) will be required to close indoor operations for more sectors due to risk of spread. Based on the recent surge in Mendocino County cases and hospitalizations, it is likely that Mendocino County will be added to the monitoring list in the next 48 hours. Dr. Doohan will issue a revised order requiring additional shut downs of activities that are currently applied to monitoring list counties on Thursday, July 16 with an effective date of July 17 at 11:59pm. The upcoming revised Health Order will require the following industries to shut down unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up: Fitness centers; worship services; offices for non-essential sectors; personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors; hair salons and barbershops, and malls. Dr. Doohan, Mendocino County Health Officer stated, “for six months the County and our partners have been tirelessly preparing for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 in our rural county. We have flattened the curve and slowed the spread and given the hospitals and clinics and health care partners the time to prepare, now the virus is here and we must respond with strength and wisdom based on fact and science. Our placement on the State monitoring list is imminent and in order to retain local control, I am choosing to act ahead of the Governor by imposing the State monitoring list restrictions on Mendocino County in the next 48 hours”.
In addition, given the current surge of COVID-19 cases in Mendocino County, with all data pointing to this being the early stages of surge which will worsen in the coming months, Dr. Doohan made the following statement regarding school reopening in the Fall, “It is my opinion that it is not safe to open schools for normal operations in the Fall. The safest direction to take for our children is to plan for distance learning in the Fall. If the schools decide to pursue a hybrid model which complies with State guidance on school reopening, I will do everything in my power to support this school planning.” In response to school reopening efforts and the recent increase in cases, County CEO Carmel J. Angelo stated, “given our recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases, increased hospitalizations over the last 24 hours and imminent placement on the State monitoring list, I believe our local school district should consider continuing to utilize distance learning and suspend onsite education for the time being to ensure the safety of our children, teachers and staff.”
In light of the recent surge in cases and increase use of surveillance testing sites by residents displaying symptoms, Dr. Doohan will be issuing orders to supplement the Blanket Isolation and Quarantine Orders to require Health Officer orders for Isolation (10 days) or Quarantine (14 days) to be given to people who come for free testing at OptumServe or other free testing sites who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are close contacts of known cases.
With cases on the rise it is vital every resident remember to wear facial coverings, do not engage in gatherings, practice good hygiene, stay home when sick and maintain 6 feet between yourself and others when you are outside of your home. Many of the recent cases are believed to be from informal gatherings around the 4th of July holiday. Please remember gatherings of any size are not allowed.
ALBION HOUSE FIRE, AND THIS GUY IS MISSING
On Monday, July 13, 2020 around 9:47 PM Cal Fire Dispatch Center received a report of a fully involved structure fire in the 32900 Block on Albion Ridge Road, in Albion. Members of the Albion-Little River Fire Department responded to the scene but also requested mutual aid from Mendocino Fire, Fort Bragg Fire, and Cal Fire to assist with the blaze. The residence was fully consumed by the fire.
Fire Officials contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) on the morning of July 14, 2020, as it took most of the night to put out the flames and cool hot spots in the fire. MCSO was advised that one of the residents of the home could not be accounted for, an adult male, and there was a concern that arson might have been the cause of the fire. MCSO requested mutual aid from Ukiah Valley Fire, requesting assistance from a trained fire investigator.
On July 14, 2020 the fire was still too hot to examine fully so the scene was held until July 15, 2020. Around 8:00 AM a team of fire officials and MCSO Investigators started the process of sorting through fire debris to determine if there might be a person who perished in the fire. Around 9:30 AM investigators located the remains of what appeared to be an adult in the fire debris. Due to the fire the decedent could not be identified nor could it readily be determined to be male or female. The remains were removed and will be scheduled for a complete autopsy by the Mendocino County Coroner's Office. The Mendocino County Coroner uses two primary methods to identify decedents; dental comparison and or DNA comparison. The cause of the decedent's death remains under investigation.
At this time the cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation.
Anyone with pertinent information, about this incident, is encouraged to call the MCSO tip line at (707)234-2100 or the WeTip line at (800) 782-7463.
(Sheriff’s Office Press Release)
HELP LOCATE MICHAEL STANLEY
Mike has just returned home from rehab. His home tragically burned down last night and he is missing. If you have seen or heard from Mike, please report. —Thank you.
Ashley Nicole Nieminen
A JOG DOWN MEMORY LANE, 1978
by Jim Gibbons
1978 was the year I got my teaching credential from Sonoma State University, bought a little house in Willits for $15,000, and was hired that Fall by the Willits Unified School District to teach at the newly formed San Hedrin Continuation High School.
Yvonne and I were happy to finally live in town after having lived up in the hills north of Willits almost since we met in 1971. It was especially nice having a flush toilet and electricity, aka being “on the grid.”
And that is the year I really got into running. I had run back in high school and college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but ten years went by before I started running again.
It was 1977 while getting my teaching credential at Sonoma State. I had time between classes, so I started running on a path that meandered west along a creek that flowed through the campus west toward Highway 101.
My first race was in May of 1978 at the First Annual Willits Hospital Run, a five-miler around the South end of town and back to the Howard Hospital grounds. Local high school track star Teddy Smith took the lead and held it all the way to the finish.
I started somewhere in the middle of the pack with my running buddy and co-Roots of Motive Power co-founder, Chris Baldo, and his dog Arvid. They both beat me.
So, then I started running every day and by July when the First Annual Frontier Days' Family Footrace 2-miler started, I was on the starting line in a little better shape.
The newly crowned Willits High School League Champ Teddy Smith again took off and left all of us in the dust and horse manure ... but as Howie Hawkes and I crossed the Skunk Train tracks about a half-mile from the Main Street finish line we noticed Teddy's head bob side to side, a sure sign he was tiring. So, Howie said, “Go get him Gibbons!” and I took off and passed him on Main Street to win my first footrace.
I amped up my training that Summer and by Fall when school began, I met a crazed runner, Roy Swett, a Bechtel Grove Middle School teacher who lived in Ukiah.
We would meet at my house after school and run the ten-mile loop around Little Lake Valley, or the back way to Brooktrails (it has since been fenced off), or out Muir Mill Road, just south of the Evergreen Shopping Center.
Roy claimed he got up at five every morning and ran ten miles around Ukiah, meaning the days he ran with me after school were 20-mile days! Then with his long runs on the weekend he was covering 100 miles a week. Roy won the first annual Boonville Run, a 3.5 miler in September, but burned out by the end of the year.
According to my records, I was second to Swett in that first Boonville run, but didn't run Boonville again until five years later (1983), finishing second to Jerry Drew in what was considered then to be the 1st Annual Boontling Classic.
This race was an 8K put on by Reed Colfax, a 13-year-old local who was home schooled, along with his two older brothers, all eventually becoming Harvard grads.
I got to know Reed when I took him and my son Eli to the Regional Cross Country Championships up in Reno that fall, after they qualified at the Redwood Empire Junior Olympic Cross Country trials held in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Park.
Reed told me the best part of the trip was just being away from chores for two days. His chores included feeding and milking the goats, part of the family routine on their Boonville farm. I sympathized by telling him we had goats for a couple years, plus chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, and a donkey. Makes it tough to take a vacation.
Reed ran well the next day, improving his time, but his competition was tough, being mostly junior high school teams and club runners with coaches and teammates to train with.
Eli qualified in the 10/under division, but I had already spent my Christmas savings on weekend trips to Santa Rosa, Sacramento, and Reno, not sure I could afford flying to Nebraska. But a funny thing happened. The Willits News ran a story about us, and the Willits townspeople offered money to send us to Nebraska.
By the end of 1983 I had run eighty-three races and was not slowing down, as I was about to turn 40 and win prize money for the first time.
Now, as I write this introduction, I have 525 races under my belt, and yes, at 72-years-old I am slowing down. I used to be insulted when people called me a jogger, but now I must admit I am one.
Postscript: I have not raced since the Fall of 2016, just three races after I wrote the previous paragraph. The combination of my right knee and my chronic asthma finally forced me to retire.
IT'S OFFICIAL: No county fair this year, Also known as the Boonville Fair, it's not happening this year.
GOLD RUSH DAGUERROTYPES
AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA REPORTS:
AV Chipper Program — I was approached by the Mendocino Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) about partnering in a chipper program for Anderson Valley. The MCFSC recently bought a chipper but needed a place to store it, along with a chipper program manager, and to find trained labor to conduct the chipping. It is currently sitting in Hopland and not being used. In addition to the chipper they have received a $75,000 grant from PG&E which needs to be used in full by November. We have met several times on the matter and are coming up with a plan to implement a program here in the valley. — I have agreed to coordinate project requests and provide fuels reduction consultations for neighborhoods that could benefit from the chipper program. Our initial survey to the various Anderson Valley Fire Safe Communities and Roadsheds have resulted in 38 requests so far. This project interest should result in the chipper being active for a time. I have spoken with Jim Brown at the fairgrounds and he is willing to house the chipper out of the weather to support the valley getting the benefit of the program. The funding will be used to hire a certified contractor (one out of the area contractor is available but we are going to solicit local contractors) to conduct the chipping and be available for small fuels reduction projects in high risk and common areas. We are drafting agreements and RFPs now to get this program rolling as soon as possible.
HAY! HAY! HAY! $7.10/bale, several hundred available. Call Kirk at 895-2949. Supports Boonville Airport
THE AIR STILL CUTS and the wind is ringing every tree leaf in The Valley, but before you know it, we will all be back at our favorite swimming holes, looking for shade trees.
My favorite place to swim, as a kid, was what we called, the “Tie Chute”. At one time, this was a place on the Navarro where railroad ties were skidded down a steep bank (or chute) to the river, and then floated out to the ocean.
It was really just a small natural pool of deep water next to a huge rock outcropping. This swimming hole was on my Aunt's Summer Resort and could be accessed by a foot path that ran right by an old Indian camp where we sometimes found arrow heads.
After swimming, in the late afternoon, we would race to “the hot sands” to warm up. This little patch of sand was slightly higher than the rest of the little beach, and for some reason, the rich white sand here became much warmer than the rest.
Our skinny wet bodies raced for this warm dune, in hope of smothering our shivers. Soon, we were dulled by the heat and barely able to move. But now an even more fundamental craving struck us: sodas.
How could we possibly obtain sodas down here on the beach? Except for the main house kitchen, the resort relied exclusively on ice chipped from blocks in a big wooden ice house that sat under a huge oak tree. A portable ice chest was unthinkable, a distant luxury unfamiliar to us.
It may not seem like much now, but this quandary grew in our minds to exaggerated proportions. Should we stay here in this heavenly place, half anesthetized by the hot sands, or leave for what we knew were the riches of an open soda fountain, filled with every imaginable treat?
There was case upon case of Coca Cola, root beer, cream soda, Squirt, and Orange Crush cooling in a huge commercial refrigerator up at the Resort, but that was ten minutes away, up a hot steep path. This had to be carefully considered.
There was also an ice cream refrigerator up there with six black lids. Each exposed a five gallon tub of vanilla, chocolate, rocky road, or strawberry (the only flavors we knew).
But it didn't end there. There were restaurant sized carafes of chocolate, raspberry, or strawberry syrup and a whole gallon jar of walnut halves with a grinding mill for making sundae toppings.
Then there was the three-stem milk shake machine. Scoop in all the ice cream the silver chalice would hold... add syrup and milk... mount your concoction... and grind to order.
All of this was free to us, and we considered it our birthright, the spoils of having a summer resort in the family.
After much deliberation, we always made the same decision, and headed up to the big resort kitchen to claim our prize. We almost never returned to the beach until the next day. Instinctively, we must have felt that these two great pleasures were not meant to be combined. Still, we always pondered what it might be like to have sodas, at the beach.
I still swim there from time to time, but that soda fountain? It's gone forever.
— Bill Kimberlin
COULD THIS MEAN STARVATION ON UKIAH'S WESTSIDE?
Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op — We regret to report that a Co-op staff member has tested positive for COVID19. That person is quarantining at home. In response, we will be immediately closing the store for a thorough sanitizing and will work with the health department to ensure that the store is safe for staff and shoppers when we reopen. Please check back for updates, and thank you for your support.
(Coop Press Release, 7/15/20)
A GUY NAMED Nick Cannon has rightly been fired by ViacomCBS for talking like a nut, live, reciting the Farrakhan catechism to another intellectual, a rapper called Professor Griff. Among other things Cannnon described white people as “evil” and “rapists” and as “true savages.” (Dude! Nobody's perfect!) Elaborating on the evil theme, Cannon said, “Black people are the true Hebrews,” going on to recite tired anti-Semitic tropes about the Rothschilds running the world, explaining that white people “are actually closer to animals, they're the ones that are actually the true savages. You can't be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people. When we are the same people who they want to be. That's our birthright. We are the true Hebrews.”
GARY GARRELS, senior curator at SF Moma, despite a groveling apology for his non-offense, has resigned. His crime? An obviously ironic aside during a meeting with artists when he said, “Don't worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white male artists,” going on to say that not to collect white male artists “would be reverse discrimination.” For this he dies?
TO THIS HERE philistine, the major prob with SF Moma is that its collection is wayyyyyy too heavy on trendo-groove-o dreck, as in that English hustler who arranged a bunch of thirty pound rocks in a V on the floor of one whole room and called it something like, “Sierra Visions.” That fraud probably walked out the door with a cool mil, I'm sure.
155 CASES Of COVID in Mendocino County as of Tuesday, but so far no hospitalizations. So, resume school? Asking around among parents with school age children, I haven't talked with one yet who is even considering it, although one mom said she'd consider it if and when effective inoculation arrives.
A READER NOTES THAT “Ms. Weiss may disdain the New York Times today, but it gave her the 15 minutes of fame she so desperately seeks.”
15 MINUTES OF FAME aren't what they're cracked up to be. I've had at least three hours of fame, defined in my experience as compendiums of misunderstandings and misquotes in major print media, plus a few tv appearances edited to present me and my newspaper as country-cutesy as all hell. After the first several 15's didn't result in more cash-business, I cooled on fame. I do a Garbo these days. “Thank you but no thanks.”
NEVER HEARD of Bari Weiss, but I don't read the NYT, not out of disdain but because I'd rather not devote an hour a day to the lib-lab version of events, the audio version of which I get via NPR while on my morning walk. (NPR is so annoying, it makes me move faster than I would ordinarily.) But having read Weiss's whinging resignation, I don't feel like I've missed much. The lady's awfully sensitive to criticism for a person with a major media platform, and her opinions seem to me ho hum-predictable, like much of the NYT and its audio arm, NPR. Maureen Dowd, on the other hand, is always interesting and a snappy writer, too. But the only national journalist I go out of my way to read is Matt Taibbi. All-in-all, and trying to be objective here, I think the Boonville weekly is always interesting and, indeed, “America's Last Newspaper.”
IN AN INTERVIEW with The Atlantic, Dr. Fauci called White House efforts to discredit him “bizarre. Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that. When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president. I think the problem is too important for me to get into those kinds of thoughts and discussions,” Fauci said. “I just want to do my job.”
ORANGE MAN is suddenly gray. Trump has turned his bizarre yellow-orange comb-across for an age-appropriate submarine fade-to-avuncular.
OLD GREENWOOD ELK: A brief photographic history.
UKIAH ATTORNEY BARRY VOGEL WRITES:
In response to my complaint regarding possible misuse of campaign funds, the California Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the January 2020, income and expense report filed by Maureen Mulheren, Candidate for Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
The details are in my complaint and Mulheren’s financial report. They and the notice of investigation sent by the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission are attached.
You are welcome to contact me if you have questions.
Attorney and Counselor
California Fair Political Practices Complaint COM-07012020-01133 filed July 1, 2020 Filed by Barry Vogel, Attorney and Counselor, Ukiah, California
Transparency in campaign spending, and adherence by candidates for public office to the California Fair Political Practice laws are essential in preventing candidates and elected officials, from misusing campaign funds.
Maureen “Mo” Mulheren’s campaign 460 report of income and expenditures, required by the Fair Political Practices Commission, which she filed on January 31, 2020, on its face reveals an extraordinarily high number of expenses that are not identified. All payments of $100.00 or more must be disclosed. Multiple payments a single payee exceeding $99.99 must be itemized and reported.
For the period from July 7, 2019, to December 31, 2019, Ms. Mulheren reported that $6,632.46 was paid out for expenses that she failed to itemize. This amount represents 65.88% of her total campaign spending for that reporting period.
In order for these expenditures to meet the requirements of the law, the records the Mulheren campaign is required to keep would have to show that a minimum of sixty-seven separate payments of $99.00 each were made to pay for campaign expenses.
A simple review of other local campaign 460 reports shows that unidentified payments for campaign expenses constitutes a tiny percentage of total expenses. For instance, Ms. Mulheren’s opponents in the March 2020 primary election, Joel Soinila and Mari Rodin, had un-itemized expenses for the same period totaling $.00 and $10.00 respectively. Given that all expenses $100.00 or more are required by law to be itemized, the dollar amount of Ms. Mulheren’s undisclosed expenditures is both unusual and unprecedented.
Ms. Mulheren’s questionable “expenditures” began around the time she closed her Ukiah business as a licensed insurance agent, and when she appointed her daughter to be campaign treasurer. Without further disclosure, Ms. Mulheren’s campaign’s highly unusual amount of expenses that are not itemized, and lack of any explanation therefore, creates an ideal scenario for illegal personal use of campaign funds.
Voters in Mendocino County and donors to Ms. Mulheren’s campaign have right to know if she is in fact spending campaign funds for permitted purposes, or for her own personal use.
RE: FPPC Case No. 2020-00568; Maureen Mulheren
Dear Mr. Vogel:
This letter is to notify you that the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the allegation(s), under the jurisdiction of the Commission, of the sworn complaint you submitted in the above-referenced matter. You will next receive notification from us upon final disposition of the case. However, please be advised that at this time we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) you have made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) you identify in your complaint.
Thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Cheng Saetern at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galena West, Chief
cc: Maureen Mulheren
MAUREEN MULHEREN RESPONDS:
SF CHRON STORY ON Supes vote to pay about $900k for five year wildlife “services” contract.
Mendocino County supervisors voted Tuesday to renew the county’s contract with a federal agency that aids ranchers in killing predators that prey on their livestock.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 15, 2020
LEONARD AZBILL-BRITTON SR., Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JORDAN CHARLES, Ukiah. DUI.
THOMAS COLYAR, Covelo. DUI, suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.
JESSE HARNETT, Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.
TRACI HERNANDEZ, Ukiah. Contempt of court.
MICHAEL HOGLE, Gualala. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DANIEL JIMENEZ-JIMENEZ, Yuba City/Ukiah. DUI, suspened license (for DUI), probation revocation.
JEREMY SKINNER, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, trespassing/entering property without consent, probation revocation.
TIFFINY WARE, Willits. Disorderly conduct-under influence of drugs.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Micro-Brew is up by 200%, and blackmarket too, but government Nanny State weed is obviously taking some sort of hit due to infrastructure changes needed to certify Safety for government workers making marijuana for profit. Non-profit growers are obviously not going to be taking a hit as they have steady clientele booked months ahead and on waiting lists. All in all I would say that COVID-19 has boosted industry sales and expectation of increased sales across the world one hundred fold, at least. Recreational drugs like marijuana are big time industries when lockdowns are instituted. Zero Hedge was uploading articles at the height that supported the recreation drug increase for industry. Slowdowns are temporary as sellers have to adjust sales to suit the climate, and environment.
POINT ARENA ABALONE IN THE 1940s
‘CANCEL CULTURE’ CANNOT ERASE A STRONG ARGUMENT
by Robert Jensen
In the current squabble on the liberal/progressive/left side of the fence over so-called “cancel culture”—in which one open letter in favor of freedom of expression led to a rebuttal open letter in favor of a different approach to freedom of expression—I can offer a report on the experience of being canceled.
Several times over the past few years I’ve been asked to speak by university or community groups, only to see those events canceled by organizers after someone complained that I am transphobic. At a couple of events that drew complaints but weren’t canceled, including one in a church, critics tried to disrupt my talk. None of the events was actually a talk on transgender issues. The complaint was that I should not be allowed to speak in progressive settings—about other feminist issues, the ecological crises, or anything else—because what I’ve written about the ideology of the transgender movement is said to be bigoted. A local radical bookstore that denounced me publicly went so far as to no longer carry my books, which I had given them free copies of for years.
If I were, in fact, a bigot, these cancelations would be easy to understand. I have never invited a bigot to speak in a class I taught or at an event I helped organize. I have invited people to speak who held some political views with which I did not agree (after all, if I only invited people who agreed with me on everything, I would be bored and lonely), but I have no interest in giving bigots a public platform.
The curious thing about these canceled/disrupted events is that no one ever pointed to anything I have written or said in public that is, in fact, bigoted. If transphobia is the fear or hatred of people who identify as transgender, nothing I have written or said is transphobic. Most of my critics simply assert that because I support the radical feminist critique of transgender ideology, I am by definition a bigot and transphobe.
Let me be clear: I’m not whining or asking for sympathy. I am a white man and a retired university professor with a stable income and a network of friends and comrades who offer support. I continue to do political and intellectual work I find rewarding and can find places to publish my work. While I don’t enjoy being insulted, these verbal attacks don’t have much effect on my life. I’m not concerned about myself but about the progressive community’s capacity for critical thinking and respectful debate.
In that spirit, here’s my contribution to that debate on transgenderism and the value of open discussion.
One of the basic points that radical feminists—along with many other writers—have made is that biological sex categories are real and exist outside of any particular cultural understanding of those categories. The terms “male” and “female” refer to those biological sex categories, while social norms about “masculinity” and “femininity” reflect how any particular society expects males and females to behave. That may seem obvious to many readers, but in some progressive and feminist circles it’s routine for people to say that those sex categories themselves are a “social construction.” I have been told that because I assert that biological sex categories are immutable, I am transphobic.
Is that claim defensible? Are sex categories a social construction?
Let’s think about reproduction. Some creatures reproduce asexually, through such processes as fission and budding, and some animals lay eggs. Most mammals, including all humans, reproduce sexually through the combination of a sperm and an egg (the two types of gamete cells) that leads to live birth.
Now, let’s think about respiration. Most aquatic creatures (whales and dolphins, which are mammals, are an exception) take in oxygen through gills. Mammals, including all humans, get oxygen by taking air into our lungs.
These descriptions of creatures’ reproduction and respiration are the result of a social process we call science, but they are not social constructions. We describe the world with human language, but what we describe doesn’t change just because we might change the language we use.
The term “social construction” implies that a reality can change through social processes. An example is marriage. What is a marriage? That depends on how a particular society constructs the concept. Change the definition—to include same-sex couples, for example—and the reality of who can get married changes.
But again, at the risk of seeming simplistic, these descriptions of reproduction and respiration systems cannot be changed by human action. We cannot socially construct ourselves into reproducing asexually or by laying eggs instead of reproducing sexually through fertilization of egg by sperm, any more than we could socially construct ourselves into breathing through gills instead of lungs.
When it comes to respiration, no one suggests that “lung-based respiration is a social construction.” If someone made such a claim most of us would say, “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense to me.” Yet when it comes to reproduction, some people argue that “biological sex is a social construction,” which makes no more sense than claiming respiration is a social construction.
To be clear: Humans do create cultural meaning about sex differences. Humans who have a genetic makeup to produce sperm (males) and humans who have a genetic makeup to produce eggs (females) are treated differently in a variety of ways that go beyond roles in reproduction. [Note: A small percentage of the human population is born “intersex,” a term to mark those who do not fit clearly into male/female categories in terms of reproductive systems, secondary sexual characteristics, and chromosomal structure. But the existence of intersex people does not change the realities of sexual reproduction, and they are not a third sex.]
In the struggle for women’s liberation, feminists in the 1970s began to use the term “gender” to describe the social construction of meaning around the differences in biological sex. When men would say, “Women are just not suited for political leadership,” for example, feminists would point out that this was not a biological fact to be accepted but a cultural norm to be resisted.
To state the obvious: Biological sex categories exist outside of human action. Social gender categories are a product of human action.
This observation leads to reasonable questions, which aren’t bigoted or transphobic: When those in the transgender movement assert that “trans women are women,” what do they mean? If they mean that a male human can somehow transform into a female human, the claim is incoherent because humans cannot change biological sex categories. If they mean that a male human can feel uncomfortable in the social gender category of “man” and prefer to live in a society’s gender category of “woman,” that is easy to understand. But it begs a question: Is the problem that one is assigned to the wrong category? Or is the problem that society has imposed gender categories that are rigid, repressive, and reactionary on everyone? And if the problem is in society’s gender categories, then is not the solution to analyze the system of patriarchy—institutionalized male dominance—that generates those rigid categories? Should we not seek to dismantle that system? Radical feminists argue for such a radical change in society.
These are the kinds of questions I have asked and the kinds of arguments I have made in writing and speaking. If I am wrong, then critics should point out mistakes and inaccuracies in my work. But if this radical feminist analysis is a strong one, then how can an accurate description of biological realities be evidence of bigotry or transphobia?
When I challenge the ideology of the transgender movement from a radical feminist perspective—which is sometimes referred to as “gender-critical,” critical of the way our culture socially constructs gender norms—I am not attacking people who identify as transgender. Instead, I am offering an alternative approach, one rooted in a collective struggle against patriarchal ideologies, institutions, and practices rather than a medicalized approach rooted in liberal individualism.
That’s why the label “TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminism) is inaccurate. Radical feminists don’t exclude people who identify as transgender but rather offer what we believe is a more productive way to deal with the distress that people feel about gender norms that are rigid, repressive, and reactionary. That is not bigotry but politics. Our arguments are relevant to the ongoing debate about public policies, such as who is granted access to female-only spaces or who can compete in girls’ and women’s sports. They are relevant to concerns about the safety of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical interventions. And radical feminism is grounded in compassion for those who experience gender dysphoria—instead of turning away from reality, we are suggesting ways to cope that we believe to be more productive for everyone.
Now, a final prediction. I expect that some people in the transgender movement will suggest that my reproduction/respiration analogy mocks people who identify as transgender by suggesting that they are ignorant. Let me state clearly: I do not think that. The analogy is offered to point out that an argument relevant to public policy doesn’t hold up. To critique a political position in good faith is not to mock the people who hold it but rather to take seriously one’s obligation to participate in democratic dialogue.
In a cancel culture, people who disagree with me may find it easy to ignore the argument and simply label me a bigot, on the reasoning that because I think the ideology of the transgender movement is open to critique, I obviously am transphobic.
But I want to make one final plea that people not do that, with two questions: If my argument is cogent—and there certainly are good reasons to reach that conclusion—why is it in the interests of anyone—including people who identify as transgender—to ignore such an argument? And how can people determine whether my argument is cogent if it is not part of the public conversation?
(Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men. He can be reached email@example.com or online at http://robertwjensen.org/.)
ALDER CREEK BRIDGE
WEEPING WITH GRATITUDE AT STATE SENATOR MCGUIRE'S DEFENSE OF....
Freedom of the press is one of the foundations upon which America was born. That said, those freedoms are under attack here in 2020.
Intentional attacks or detainments of reporters and members of the press in the United States in 2020 have increased significantly, particularly during the nationwide anti-racism protests, according to the US Press Freedom Tracker, the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
During recent protests reporters have been hit by rubber bullets, struck with batons, sprayed with tear gas, and detained, all while performing their critical role of documenting and informing the public of current events.
Senator Mike McGuire introduced SB 629, which will enhance and extend access and protections to members of the media who are attending demonstrations in order to gather vital information.
“Members of the press risk their personal health and safety each time they attend protests or rallies to get the public the information they need and deserve. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and even detainment cannot be the new norm for an essential pillar of our nation’s democracy. California must lead the way to ensure the right of the press and the First Amendment are protected and held to the highest standard,” Senator McGuire said. ”SB 629 – The Press Freedom Act – will help ensure journalists can perform these critical roles while being protected under the law from any law enforcement officer intentionally assaulting, obstructing or interfering with their duties while they are gathering the news.”
SB 629 – the Press Freedom Act – will ensure that journalists are protected as they attend demonstrations, marches, protests, and rallies. It will prohibit law enforcement officers from obstructing, detaining, assaulting or otherwise preventing the press from fulfilling their constitutional mandate in reporting on these events by making it a misdemeanor for any peace officer to do so.
Recent police action demonstrates that these statutory protections are critical to ensure our democratic system has access to newsworthy information to inform the discussion on the crucial issues that California and the nation face.
During protests throughout California in May, numerous reporters were injured during incidents with law enforcement.
For example, a reporter for KCRW, a Santa Monica NPR affiliate, was reporting at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue when she was hit by a rubber bullet. She was holding her press badge above her head at the time.
A Buzzfeed News reporter was detained by the Santa Monica Police while documenting a protest.
A KPIX CBS affiliate reporter was detained by law enforcement while reporting on protests in Oakland.
A San Diego Union-Tribune reporter was shot with pepper balls while he was documenting protests in La Mesa.
While California law allows reporters and members of the press to enter natural disaster emergency areas for the purpose of gathering information, these protections do not expressly extend to protests. SB 629 provides these protections.
The legislation is supported by the California News Publisher’s Association, The California Broadcasters Association, California Black Media, Impremedia, Ethnic Media Services and the First Amendment Coalition.
The legislation is co-authored by: Senators Hertzberg, Hill, Wiener, Gonzalez, Portantino and Skinner and Assemblymember Wicks.
SB 629 will be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee in the coming weeks.
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT SPEECH and symbols of inclusiveness, without a concerted assault on corporate power, will do nothing to change a system that by design casts the poor and working poor, often people of color, aside — Karl Marx called them surplus labor — and forces them into a life of misery and a brutal criminal caste system.
The cancel culture, with its public shaming on social media, is the boutique activism of the liberal elites. It allows faux student radicals to hound and attack those deemed to be racist or transphobic, before these “radicals” graduate to work for corporations such as Goldman Sachs, which last year paid $9 million in fines to settle federal allegations of racial and gender pay bias. Self-styled Marxists in the academy have been pushed out of economic departments and been reborn as irrelevant cultural and literary critics, employing jargon so obscure as to be unreadable. These “radical” theorists invest their energy in linguistic acrobatics and multiculturalism, with branches such as feminism studies, queer studies and African-American studies. The inclusion of voices often left out of the traditional academic canon certainly enriches the university. But multiculturalism, moral absolutism and the public denunciations of apostates, by themselves, too often offer escape routes from critiquing and attacking the class structures and systems of economic oppression that exclude and impoverish the poor and the marginal.
The hedge fund managers, oligarchs and corporate CEOs on college trustee boards don’t care about Marxist critiques of Joseph Conrad. They do care if students are being taught to dissect the lies of the neoliberal ideology used as a cover to orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upwards in American history.
‘I NEED TO MOVE ON’
Hello everyone, Tonight, following a visit to the Honolulu Beer Works, I went to the Cheesecake Factory at Waikiki. While enjoying a cheesecake ala mode with a caramel macchiato coffee, I did LOUDLY denounce the insanity of having to wear a non-medical mask in response to the COVID-19 virus. The non-medical mask does not keep the molecule-surrounded-by-a-layer of-fat from either entering or exiting. Only the KN95 mask does this! Therefore, why are we all wearing the masks? We are all wearing the masks because the politicians and the criminals who manufacture them are making money off of this. That's why. Before leaving the Cheesecake Factory at Waikiki in Honolulu, I stated that I am in favor of executing the politicians and the bastards who are profitting from this insane hoax in Honolulu. That's where I am at with this entire stupidity of life presently, in Hawaii. I would like to leave Hawaii. I am accepting money. I am accepting a place to go to from here. I am accepting anything that is spiritually intelligent in response to this visionless situation in postmodern America. THANK YOU.
Craig Louis Stehr
Telephone messages: 808-596-2080
ED NOTE: There is still much that is unknown about this thing, Craig, but what is known is that masks and keeping a reasonable distance away from your fellow beings, arrests its spread. Vishnu, great defender of all life, would want you to protect yourself and your fellow beings. Hari, hari, krishna!