Your Right to Stack Thong-Clad Men

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A Pennsylvania judge has reportedly dropped charges against the Smoketown Six, a group of activists who stripped down to thongs and created a "human pyramid" reminiscent of a certain memorable photo from Abu Ghraib in order to protest at a Bush rally.

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  1. As my Friday afternoon winds down, can we PLEASE come up with a different visual that I can take with me into the weekend?

  2. Freedom of expression isn’t always pretty, Steve.
    The only winner here is President Bush, who was spared the sight of protesters so he can keep living in a dream world where everyone loves him.

  3. Is anybody keeping a running tally of US torturers?
    Recall Rummy’s first reaction being you could easily count them on one hand?

  4. US Torturers? My list starts with Janet Reno.

    Ever wonder why nobody participated in these kinds of protests when the Clinton administration oversaw the incineration of American children in Texas a decade ago?

    I’m sorry, I can’t take these Croc Tears seriously because if it wasn’t Bush’s scandal 99% of these guys would be home in bed sans thongs.

  5. Ever wonder why nobody participated in these kinds of protests when the Clinton administration oversaw the incineration of American children in Texas a decade ago?

    Actually, there was, but there were no blogs at the time to disseminate the info. I just don’t remember most of the details since I was undergrad at the time chopping up ritalin to mix in my scotch and ultimately didn’t give a rat’s ass. The Clinton years were good for that sort of thing. Oh yeah, it was in the protest capital of America, San Francisco (or is that Seattle?). There were a bunch of women dressed as severly burned kids calling for accountability within the murderous ATF.

  6. Abu Ghraib themes are going to be in at this year’s Halloween parades.

  7. You know I thought for sure I had left some cooments here earlier.

    Were they so out of line they were removed?

  8. They may have been out of line, but if they were removed it’s because we just switched servers. Some data has been lost in the process. My apologies.

  9. TWC,
    I confess I was first tempted to post in the vein you did.
    The issue here, however, is that torture doesn’t work.
    In fact, as B.F. Skinner showed, only positive reinforcement works, if it’s behavior modification we’re after.
    Unfortunately, more recent research shows the same brain cells tingled by cocaine respond similarly from stimulation by revenge.
    War doesn’t modify behavior either. Duh.
    Except to tingle those cells.

  10. Ruthless tingler,

    B.F. Skinner also thought that biology had little influence on behavior. He was an absolutist behaviorist. This idea has been absolutely destroyed by modern science. So, there is no proof that “only positive reinforcement works in behavior modification.” Plus, it’s just a stupid idea. My mother spanked the back of my hand when I was 18 months old to stop me from grabbing forbidden items. I stopped doing it. Looks to me like negative reinforcement can be effective. I imagine that you could find–if you looked–millions of other examples of the efficacy of negative reinforcement. I just love how psychologists make absolutely absurd claims, and then millions of people accept them without question as facts.

  11. Bill,
    But doesn’t that slapping on the back of your hand explain your posting on H&R today?

  12. By the way, we’re not being very specific in our nomenclature. Psychologists use the following terms: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment. It is very easy to confuse negative reinforcement and punishment.

    Negative reinforcement occurs when a response is strengthened because it is followed by the removal of a negative stimulus.

    Punishment occurs when an event following a response weakens the tendency to make that response.

    Both can be effective in altering behavior, but punishment can be counterproductive because it can engender defiance.

  13. Ruthless,

    You could be right, and that only serves to prove my point.

  14. Tim Cavanaugh

    “They may have been out of line, but if they were removed it’s because we just switched servers”,

    Dude, I was trying to figure out what the hell I said that was so offensive. Luckily I hadn’t even gotten around to paranoid delusions of the federal government removing what I said of the ATF.

  15. So I don’t want to type again what I said about the ATF.

    Instead I will say that both Bill and Ruthless Tingler are wrong about BF Skinner.

    BF Skinner proved that punishment, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and other stuff worked in modifying behavior. And to what extent each one worked and what ratio worked most effectively. And what was likely to have other behavioural consequenses.

    He did not think that biology had little effect on behaviour, only that it could not be measured.

    He was all about measuring behaviour. And not trying to hypothesize about that which cannot be measured. He has not been discredited by anyone that understands his research.

  16. Bill,
    Trying to be specific with my steenking nomenclature.
    It was my steenking point.
    I saw it first.

    Nighty night!

  17. Didn’t the Branch Davidians burn themselves? Of course, not all of them did it, and the guvmint could have started the fire, but do we really know which it was? You might say that the guvmint indirectly caused the fire, but to really blame them, you’d have to say that the guvmint can’t raid a residence where prepubescent girls are being “married” to grown men. Sounds like a reasonable use of force to me. Each child’s individual liberty was being violated by a bunch of pedophile theocratic nut-jobs! I guess I’m not an anarchist.

  18. Leave no child behind!

    Nighty night, and I mean it this time!

  19. Bill, that’s all Red Herring–The feds simply didn’t have jurisdiction (except in the gun matter which you didn’t mention). All are state matters and were investigated by Texas authorities a couple of times and the Davidians were given a clean bill of health.

    Aside from that, Koresch left the compound almost daily and could have been arrested or detained without starting a firefight at any time the feds chose to do so.

    It has also been established that the assault likely caused the fire either because of abject stupidity on the part of the government or straight up malice, which it was is THE real something we can’t be sure of.

    In the end burning children to death as a form of rescue just doesn’t work for me. Particularly, when the feds refused to allow the local fire department to put out the flames.

    I’m not an anarchist either.

  20. Of course biology has a measurable effect on behavior:

    When that chick bent over, I forgot my name.

    There it is: Biology and measured effect.

  21. My mother soaped my mouth any number of times for using, well, the kind of language that kids used to get their mouths soaped for using. And she’d grind that bar of pink Camay so as to get lots of soap in between the teeth thus making it a real bitch to rinse that crap out. Yeccchhh!

    Did it help?

    Not one single bit. There is, apparently, a profanity gene.

    And Ruthless, yer right, I get past the Waco thing, eh?

  22. TWC,

    I don’t know if it’s “all Red Herring”, but you make valid points. (Note my use of many question marks: I was asking for input.) In the end, everybody lost; the Davidians most horribly.

    The federal government has jurisdiction in any and all civil rights matters, doesn’t it? A child being used as alleged could be referred to as a sex slave. Nonetheless, the feds royally screwed up the whole deal, which is unsurprising. You’re absolutely right that they should have picked up Koresh on the outside, and you’re absolutely right that the feds screwed it up, with terrifying consequences.

  23. kwais,

    I was wrong to call Skinner an absolutist, but are you sure that Skinner didn’t give much more weight to nurture than nature? It seems that he leaned that way. Also, you said:

    He did not think that biology had little effect on behaviour, only that it could not be measured.

    I’m not sure, but I doubt that it is impossible to measure biology’s effect on behavior. Maybe it was for him?

  24. Regarding the feeelings in 1993 after Waco:

    In the pre-blog days of the internet, I used to hang out in various political newsgroups for my daily source of barely-informed punditry.

    Several Democrats were up in arms about Waco and were doing a bit of soul-searching about their support of Clinton in ’92. One guy remarked that between Waco and the Clipper chip proposal (anyone else remember that debacle?), he thought he could see an emergent fascist system under the smiling face of Clinton. This statement received a lot of agreement.

  25. “Several” meaning “more than a couple and less than 10”, judging from stuff that actually got said at the time…

  26. “Several” meaning “more than a couple and less than 10”, judging from stuff that actually got said at the time…

    That’s “fewer than ten…” The post-Waco period was a study in the slow percolation of alternative views in the days before widespread internet access. To the extent that any discussion took place for the first couple years, it was almost entirely in newsgroups, zines, pamphlets, bars, and other low-circulation forums. There may have been democrats among the complainers in these places, but on the internet nobody knows you’re a dog. (To demonstrate: I voted for Clinton in 1992, and I was the first Waco objector I knew.) MSM took at face value the idea of idea of the Davididans’ responsibility and the Courage of Janet Reno’s responsibility-taking gesture. It wasn’t until the Oklahoma City bombing that real attention began to be paid to the idea that Waco dissatisfaction was widely distributed, and of course, by killing more people than Janet Reno had, McVeigh managed to paint the whole issue with the Waco-wacko brush in a way that has never really gone away. To this day, most people you talk to believe that it was wrong to burn the Davidians alive and wrong to blow up the Murrah federal building, but in larger media this simple idea is still rarely expressed. I suspect things would happen differently today, though given how quickly a group of Abu Ghraib protesters get dismissed right here in Blogville, I don’t think things have changed all that much.

  27. Tim, the protestors were dismissed because of a very specific reason–at least IMO. I articulated it right out of the gate. If this wasn’t Bush’s scandal, the protest would likely not have happened. If it wasn’t Bush’s war the protests would be extremely weak. Think back to Garafalo’s candid remark that “it wasn’t cool to protest Clinton’s wars” so nobody did. That’s it in a nutshell.

    It’s far more revealing to discover what a person doesn’t protest rather than what they actually do protest. That’s the Waco connection, and for that matter, it’s the Elian Gonzalez connection.

    And to dismiss the protestors by playing the hypocrisy card doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is dismissing the scandal itself. In addition, the simple recognition of the underlying motive in all of this doesn’t translate into cheerleading for the prez either.

    You voted for Clinton? Omigod! My illusions are shattered, where’s the razor blades….

  28. “are you sure that Skinner didn’t give much more weight to nurture than nature? It seems that he leaned that way.”

    Allright, I have to admit it has been 6 years since I studied about Skinner. So it was easy to remember what wasn’t, easier than to remember what was. But, if memory serves me, Skinner thought the nature vs nurture argument was bunk, because they are one and the same.

    It is hard to measure biology effects on behavior without being able to map a gene. Scientists on both sides can swear up and down that something is learned or that it is biological. Skinner instead of trying to figure out what was in the mind, sought to measure what can be objectively measured, actions, or behavior.

  29. I think the aftermath of Waco was what put me on the road to libertarian leanings. The actions of Waco smelled bad, and the more I read into it the wronger the whole thing seemed.

    As a big 2nd ammendment guy, I had the concern that there was an effort to try and go the way of England and ban guns here in the US. So maybe I was concerned about the whole Waco incident for entirely selfish reasons.

    The aftermath of Waco put me in a strange position for a conservative. In the event of federal agents clashing with hippies who had a strange religion, I believed the federal agents were in the wrong.

    I was mildy interested in the fact that all these federal agent swat guys, and the Army guys supporting them weren’t a little more efficient at what they were doing (but I guess that is incidental)

    Anyhow, I think it might have been a short journey in my mind from realizing that federal agents were wrong in this case, to realizing that the war on drugs might also not be the best course of action.

    That journey took a couple of years though.

  30. So my journey may not yet be complete though. I really don’t have a problem with the Abu Ghraib thing if it were in fact a calculated way to crack the terrorists and to gain information. My problem with the whole issue is if it were in fact just a bunch of jackasses getting their jollies. That would be evidence of a lack of discipline. That would be wrong.

    So I guess if the prison guards were enjoying doing what they were caught doing, I think it is wrong. If they didn’t enjoy doing it, but they were doing it to crack the terrorists, I don’t have a real problem with it.

  31. I live in Lancaster, PA and if I recall correctly, Mr. Egolf was a high school acquaintance of my girlfriend’s.

    All the posturing in these comments aside, I hope we can agree that these guys shouldn’t have been arrested to begin with. A lot of our local police forces seem to lose sight of what constitutes a real crime, probably more than anything due to a general lack of crime in their jurisdictions.

  32. Nobody protested Clinton’s wars?

    RATM’s anti-war songs were generally complaints about the warmongering Clinton administration. Look at the lyrics for “No Shelter”. They were complaining about Kosovo. Of all things.

    For 8 years through the Clinton era, RATM blasted out anger at Clinton. Now with Bush in the witehouse, Zach is silent. I haven’t even heard a single scream from him over the gropenfurher. There is no solace there.

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