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(en) US, Phoenix Anarchists Upheaval #3

Date Thu, 16 Mar 2006 17:10:46 +0200

2006: What an awful time to be an American! What a beautiful moment to be an Anarchist!
Since Upheaval #2 came out last Fall, corruption and distress seem
to have become the rule. Bush and the NSA have been exposed for
secret wiretapping of US citizens. Secret US torture camps have
been discovered all through eastern Europe. Scumbag lobbyists like
Jack Abramoff have been outed for buying out our “elected
officials” to up the military-industrial complex. We’ve
already begun the march towards a meaningless war in Iran while
we’re still sinking deeper into meaningless quagmires in Iraq
and Afghanistan. The Christian right is calling for the execution of
all queers; Bush continues his crusade to gut our Social Security.
Meanwhile, Peak Oil is approaching, global temperatures are
breaking records, the glaciers are melting, and no one seems to be
able to do anything substantial to stop any of it. Dick Cheney even
blasted some dude with a shotgun. Every day, there’s less and
less of a reason to pretend that this whole “American
democracy” shtick is anything more than the weakest of
corporate shams. Is it any wonder that everyone but the Minutemen
have stopped waving around those idiotic American flags?

On a heavier note, we at Upheaval mourn the passing of fellow
Arizonan Bill Rodgers. In a jail cell, sometime during the night of
December 22nd, Bill took his own life in a final, brave act of defiance
against his captors. He was about to be extradited to Washington to
serve as a scapegoat for the federal government’s war on
environmentalists, facing charges of “eco-terrorism.”

Anyone who knew Bill — or spent any time in Prescott’s
Catalyst Infoshop, which he helped run — must have found it
profoundly insulting that they tried to paint him as some kind of
public enemy. By all accounts he was a kind, humble man who
worked diligently for the betterment of the planet and the happiness
of his fellow humans. It’s obvious that Bill was no
“terrorist” — and if a court determines that he played a
part in the nonviolent destruction of some rich assholes’ new ski
resort, in defense of the ecosystem it was destroying, then we here at
Upheaval can only say: right on, brother. None of us can afford to ski

While we were working on our second issue, Upheaval received a
mysterious package from the Catalyst people. They’d read about
us on the web, and wanted to exchange a copy of our magazine for
the fist issue of their own zine, the Stray Cat.

The Stray Cat was a charming, hand-worked little thing, bursting
with wit, humor, and optimism about projects that the Catalyst had
planned for its community — a free school; movie nights; an
“alternative tourist bureau.” The tone of the whole thing was
so earnest, laid-back and friendly, it was hard not to think that the
people of Prescott were pretty lucky to have Bill and the other
members of the Catalyst in their town. We were excited about the
bright future this small autonomous zone was going to enjoy
through the efforts of these fun, hard-working anti-authoritarians.

But on December 7th, that bright future was darkened by the
shadows of federal agents, who raided the Catalyst and seized
materials and computers to support their “eco-terrorism”
witch hunt. On the same day, they threw Bill in jail.

The Catalyst managed to survive this temporary setback. Despite all
they’ve been put through, including the loss of one of their
founders, the Catalyst still seems committed to serving the public.
Last week they held a memorial service for Bill.

Let’s take a cue from the Catalyst folks, and look on the bright
side of all this: we anarchists claim that the state is not the friend of
the people, but their enemy. And nothing could make that clearer to
everyone than a dose of heavy-handed, indiscriminate government
persecution. Seeing it hit so close to home — just up the road, as
it were — made it obvious to us that if we don’t hang
together, they’ll arrange to have us hanged separately. It’s
sobering to think that if we’d sent a copy of Upheaval to the
Catalyst just a few weeks earlier, this very magazine might now be
sitting in some spook’s filing cabinet as part of a creepy secret
dossier on America’s Growing Scourge of Anarcho-Terrorism,
or Eco-Fascism, or Deviant Anti-apathy, or Treasonous Action
Against the Holy Corpratocratic Death Machine, or some other
equally specious nonsense. It’s funny — when we started this
magazine, it seemed like nobody wanted to read about anarchism.
But since the Catalyst raid, it’s likely that we’ll now have
readers in some of the highest tiers of the federal government. And
really, could we ask for a better audience to convert?

You too can join the Upheaval anytime you like — we’re
always accepting submissions of words, art, and photographs that
deal with struggles for revolutionary social justice. Past subjects have
included: border issues and immigration; police brutality and
repression; gender, feminist, and queer issues; radical
environmentalism, resistance to white supremacy, white privilege,
and racism; prisoner support; critiques of global capitalism and the
state; and tactics for realizing and organizing our revolutionary

As always, your letters are welcome, and donations are gladly
accepted. Send any and all to our PO box, or go to the PAC website.

This issue is dedicated to Bill Rodgers, and all his efforts. We hope
his passing inspires us all to continue the work that he, and so many
other fallen allies, have begun.

In solidarity,

The Upheaval editorial collective.


c/o the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition

PO Box 3438, Tempe, AZ 85280-3438



An open letter from Phoenix Copwatch

Operation Backfire: the FBI’s war on the ELF/ALF

by Katelyn

The Real Eco-Terrorists

by Ken Dahl

They Won’t Stop Gang Violence

by sallydarity

The Importance of Being an Ally

by Elizabeth V.

The Perfect Pope

by frog

Don’t Slice Babies’ Junk Off Dammit!!

by anonymous

bell hooks: two reviews

by frog & sallydarity

Book review: Confessions of an Economic Hitman

by anonymous

Minutemen Invade Phoenix

by sallydarity

An open letter from Phoenix Copwatch on police actions during the
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration

(which the Arizona Republic refused to print in their letters column)

The dehumanizing crowd control tactics used by the police against
people at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Margaret T.
Hance Park were poorly covered by the media. Because we had
heard about the police reaction to fights last year, members of
Phoenix Copwatch were present to document potential abuses.
Phoenix Copwatch is an independent volunteer group formed to
combat police abuse.

What we witnessed was completely inappropriate. Rather than trust
the mostly black crowd to disperse on their own, the police used
horses to force hundreds of people from the public park out into the
street minutes after the event ended.

Once in the street, the police used pepper spray on a number of
individuals, sometimes while riding past them on motorcycles. Some
of the youths may have been involved in minor fist fights, but many
were guilty of nothing. Had the police not forced people out of the
park so quickly, there wouldn’t have been so many folks in the
streets in the first place.

The black youth at this event were stripped of their dignity by being
herded like cattle and “sprayed like cockroaches,” as one
young man stated. We believe that this is a matter of racism, and it is
an atrocity for the police to behave in this way, especially on Martin
Luther King, Jr. Day.

Phoenix Copwatch

Operation Backfire: The FBI’s war on the ELF/ALF

by Katelyn

The decade-long move to falsely portray environmentalism as
terrorism finally culminated last December 7th when, as part of a
nationwide string arrests, six suspected Earth Liberation Front (ELF)
and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) saboteurs were hauled off by
federal agents. The investigation has been named “Operation
Backfire" by the FBI. Suspects Bill Rodgers, Kevin Tubbs, Sarah
Harvey, Chelsea Gerlach, Stanislas (Jack) Meyerhoff and Daniel
McGowan were charged with a number of politically motivated
arsons that took place between 1996 and 2001 in Oregon, Wyoming,
Washington, California and Colorado.

On December 22, 2005, Bill Rodgers was found dead in his cell in
what has been ruled a suicide by the Coconino County Sheriff’s
office. He was awaiting extradition to Washington. The county
medical examiner determined that he suffocated after placing a
plastic bag over his head. Rodgers ran the Catalyst Infoshop
bookstore in Prescott, Arizona.

A couple of weeks later, Jonathan Mark Christopher Paul and
Suzanne Savoie were also arrested and linked with the initial group
of arrestees. In 1993, Paul spent five months in jail for contempt of
court in Spokane for refusing to testify regarding the investigation of
a 1991 ALF attack against US Department of Agriculture offices.

Three additional suspects — Josephine Sunshine Overaker,
Rebecca Rubin, and Joseph Dibee — are still at large, and are
believed to have left the country. The three are linked with an
ALF/ELF cell which, according to an FBI affidavit, refers to itself as
“The Family." This alleged group also includes Chelsea Dawn
Gerlach, Sarah Kendall Harvey, Daniel Gerard McGowan, Stanislas
Gregory Meyerhoff, Jonathan Mark Christopher Paul, Darren Todd
Thurston, Suzanne Savoie and Kevin Tubbs.

It gets more complicated, however: in a defense motion filed in US
District Court to release Chelsea Gerlach, another suspect, Jacob
Ferguson, was identified as one of several unnamed FBI informants.
This would explain why, although he has admitted to being involved
with a number of crimes attributed to “The Family," Ferguson
has yet to be charged with any offense.

In the same court motion, Jack Meyerhoff was also named as a
government informant. Before the arrests, the FBI claims that he
wore a wire to record private conversations between him and another
defendant, Chelsea Gerlach, in order to shorten his own sentence.
These recorded conversations became the basis for the charges
against the defendants in this case.

Recent court hearings seem to indicate that Sarah Harvey and Kevin
Tubbs have also admitted guilt, and are cooperating with the

U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut said, “There is no doubt that
getting inside information was one of the critical components of
being able to crack the case," suggesting that the state’s case
against the ELF/ALF defendents rests heavily, or even entirely, on
the testimony of informants.

Amongst all of the events surrounding Operation Backfire and
“The Family," another group of suspected ELF members were
also recently taken into custody. On January 13, 2006, Eric
McDavid, Zachary Jensen, and Lauren Weiner were arrested outside
of a K-mart in Auburn, California, and accused of planning attacks
on a wide variety of targets including US Forest Service buildings,
the Nimbus Dam near Sacramento, a cellular telephone tower, a
power station, and many others — however, none of these actions
were actually carried out.

The case against the Auburn Three also relies heavily on evidence
gathered from an FBI infiltrator. The affidavit explains that an FBI
source wore a wire to record conversations within the group, and
that a cabin where the four stayed was rented by the FBI and rigged
with hidden sound and video equipment. Lauren was released on bail
on January 26th, while Jensen and McDavid were denied bail. On
February 14th, they are all scheduled to appear before a federal judge
for a status hearing.

Related Links:

Affidavit: <http://www.kirotv.com/download/




Arrest Warrant for Josephine Sunshine


The Real Eco-Terrorists can be found at

They Won’t Stop Gang Violence

by sallydarity

Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed December 13, 2005, for the
murder of four people.

I didn't know anything about Tookie Williams until about two weeks
before he was sentenced to die, when I saw Redemption, the movie
made about his life. Over the next few days, as I thought about the
movie and Tookie’s approaching execution, I became convinced
that there was enough reason for people to see he should not be

Although he had been the co-founder of the Crips gang in L.A., once
in prison he spent several years putting energy into stopping gang
violence. He wrote a number of books geared towards a young
audience, and spoke with young people to discourage them from
joining or staying in gangs. As a result of his efforts, he was
nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thousands of others had
already been protesting Tookie’s planned execution.

I'm not saying that Tookie's survival would end all gang violence,
nor that his efforts for redemption could bring back the people he
allegedly killed. But his execution would erase the hope that
he’d given to many youths. I thought for sure that enough
people would see that.

However, when I heard that it was up to Governor Schwarzenegger
to stay Tookie’s execution, his death suddenly seemed like a
possibility. I started to put together some pieces of the bigger picture
as I know it.

And you know what? I decided that I don't believe that our
government wants to end gang violence. In fact, they might even
have reasons to let it continue.

From my perspective on the issue, there are only two possible
reasons the government would have an interest in ending gang
violence: to protect the people with money (specifically white people
with money), and to create a source for manual labor and military
recuits. The reason the government would want to let gang violence
continue is similar to why they continue the drug war, the war on
terrorism, or the war on union organizing: so they can keep the
police budgets rising, keep the rich people scared, and label another
group of people “criminals” so they can beat them down in
the street, throw them in jail, and maintain the racist status quo.

Even if the government really did want to end gang violence, I'm not
quite sure where they would start. Initially I was thinking they could
start by adequately teaching the histories of people of color. But
there are reasons why we don't learn much about anyone other than
rich white men in school, reasons which also cause
disempowerment, poverty, competition, and other factors that
ensure that gang violence will continue.

There are many examples throughout history of the government
undermining the empowerment and rising-up of people of color.
Cops in Chicago killed Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers in his
bed1; COINTELPRO actively attempted to destroy the organizing
efforts of the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement,
Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and many others.2 There is
even evidence that the CIA brought cocaine and crack into the

My favorite author, bell hooks, wrote that “As long as black
males are deemed savages unable to rise above their animal nature,
they could be seen as a threat easily contained." That’s not to
say that the government, or white people in general, make conscious
choices about the fate of men of color — but certain aspects of the
government definitely have, and continue to do so. It should also be
said that the present status of people of color in the US is shaped by
consistent patterns of white supremacy, imperialism, capitalism, and
patriarchy. Of course we want an end to gang violence, but we
should not expect the government to do what is necessary to stop it.
Some might even say that the police force or the military are just
large, powerful gangs themselves.

Killing people like Tookie Williams will do nothing to end gang
violence. Gang violence will end only when the people are
empowered, and the system toppled. And there are many more
reasons for this to happen than just to end gang violence.

1Formed in 1966, the Black Panther Party was a group of black
radicals whose goal was the empowerment and self-determination of
black people, which they sought to carry out through various means,
including the Free Breakfast for Children program, armed
self-defense classes, and other community projects.

Fred Hampton was a prominently known Black Panther. During a
raid, he was murdered in his bed by the Chicago police on December
4th, 1969. The police and FBI knew where he slept because they had
an informant draw out a floor plan of the apartment.

2COINTELPRO was a branch of the FBI that dealt with what they
considered threats to the government and social order. Officially
operating from 1956-1971, they surveilled individuals and groups as
well as actively disrupted them by doing things as writing and
sending fake letters to create distrust or conflict amongst people.

The American Indian Movement (AIM) is an American Indian
national-liberation movement which started in 1968 in response to
the various issues affecting Native Americans. The group fought for
land, self-determination, autonomy, and respect for their culture.

The Importance of Being an Ally

by Elizabeth V.

It is important to combat and dissect the forces in society that limit
your freedom to live a stable and fulfilling life, to love whom you
wish, and to have equality with everyone else in society. It is
important to realize and name the people and government structures
that may judge and oppress you and others simply on the basis of
your race, class, gender, sexuality or ability.

But when a movement for social change focuses on only one of
these systems of oppression, or when one piece of the puzzle is left
out, it always negatively impacts the movement’s effectiveness.
The successes of women's rights movements were limited when
they excluded and marginalized non-white and lesbian women. And
when Black Nationalist movements refused to confront their
homophobia and patriarchy, they alienated themselves from many
other groups. I believe that inclusion is strategic; we can only hope
to dismantle all systems of oppression by finding unity among our
differences. United, we have the power to defeat those people and
institutions that oppress us all.

Learning to understand and articulate the ways that you are
discriminated against can be a strong starting point towards forging a
broader political critique. This is especially useful for people who
historically have been taught to be quiet and subservient, or who
have learned to consider their own views and problems as less
important than those of others. It is important for everyone to go
through this process for their own personal growth and development,
and as a means of strengthening their position in the community
that they come from and identify with. For example, people of color
should be critically aware of the multiple ways in which racism limits
their potential; women should be aware of the ways in which they
are oppressed by patriarchy; lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered
and queer people should be aware of the ways that they are
stigmatized as a result of homophobia, and so on. Different
oppressions cannot be equated; for example, the pain and suffering
caused by racism and white supremacy is different from the anguish
of poverty, and the struggle of being a woman is different from the
exclusion faced by people of “different" sexualities and gender
identities. However, there are certain commonalities between
seemingly unrelated oppressions such as poverty, and the struggle of
being a woman. They are all systems of dominance maintained by
the broader culture, and there are many ways in which different
oppressions can overlap to exacerbate each other, multiply each
other, or change into and out of each other. Transgendered people
may not only face disdain from their family and community
members, but may also face discrimination in the workplace and in
the job market.

Of course, most people that face these forms of discrimination
already are aware! However, it is important to talk about norms that
frequently go unstated and unanswered. Sometimes, the simple act
of collective recognition and community discussion can be a very
powerful experience from which further action can be taken. Once
you get to know yourself and position yourself within the broader
oppressive power structure, you can begin to understand the
different ways that other people besides yourself are also put down,
shut down, violated, and punished for their identity — as well as
the ways in which you, personally, participate in dominating and
silencing people that are different from you.

Most of us hold some sort of privilege in society. White people
benefit from racist social structures, as when they are ignored by the
police, who target people of color. Citizens of the United States have
access to more resources and more stability than non-citizens.
Middle-class or wealthy people have access to education, health
care, and other privileges that they often take for granted. Men are
allowed to dominate and control women. Straight people can express
their love in public and private without fearing harassment or
attracting hateful violence. People who have clear-cut gender
identities have the privilege to not be fired or forced into poverty
because of the ways they dress, act, look, or identify as people. We
all wield a certain level of power over others, even if our identity as
“nice people" doesn’t always let us see it. We can and do
benefit passively from these systems of oppression even if we
don’t “actively" participate in them — and by being
inactive, we legitimate oppression by default.

I think it is important to own up to these privileges, and many
others, and try to confront them, even when it is difficult. It can be
painful to see yourself as part of a system that puts other people
down, or that is unjust. However, the only way that we can combat
these injustices is by recognizing the ways that we, our friends, our
families and authority figures maintain these systems of pain and
oppression. I admit to myself that I am embroiled in systems of
racism, that I say or think or do things that are classist, and that I
judge people when their gender expression is different or weird. We
all need to acknowledge that we, as normal human beings, act in the
ways that society has programmed us to act. We need to recognize
the power that we as individuals hold, and strive to change our own
oppressive actions, tendencies assumptions and privileges. We must
learn to combat them actively.

I think that one of the best ways to combat these oppressions is to be
an ally. Allies, as I see them, are people who are not directly
oppressed by horrible systems, but who consciously work to help
end them. Part of being an ally is being willing to learn about other
people; the other part is respectfully putting what you have learned
into action. The following list — which is by no means
comprehensive — is a compilation of different things I try to do to
be a more sensitive, compassionate, strategic, and effective person
and organizer:

1. When in doubt, listen to others! Listen to other people’s
stories, perspectives and ideas, and learn whatever you can from
their experience.

2. When not in doubt, question the foundations of your beliefs. We
are all limited by our own experiences, and have only partial
critiques of authority as a result. We need to recognize that we do
not already have all the answers.

3. Learn not to interrupt people; let others talk. Try being silent if
you have a problem talking over other people. Make sure quiet
people have the opportunity to express themselves. Show respect.

4. Learn not to assume that you know what other people want or
need. You probably don’t.

5. Read! Sometimes people won’t want to answer all of your
questions on their particular oppression. Reading gives you a great
opportunity to learn about oppression without asking silly questions.
But don’t assume you know everything after you have read.
Keep listening.

6. Don’t speak for other people. Allow them to speak for
themselves instead.

7. Go out of your comfort zone – in all areas of your life!

8. Offer support to friends and community members. Let people
know that you care. But don’t force your caring on them. They
are not your community service project.

9. If in a group, try to make sure that everybody’s views are
being acknowledged and that the space you are creating is respectful
of diversity.

10. Learn to be humble.

I do not think that it is important to learn to be an ally simply so that
you yourself can be a more perfect person. But being an ally gives
you a better perspective on groups that are different and less
privileged than your own, and this can help you understand ways
that power works. This is imperative to creating the means to either
overthrow or fundamentally change our present society.

It is also important to recognize that institutions such as business
and government agencies actively engage in policies of
discrimination. While some abominable laws and practices have
been stopped as a result of, for example, the civil rights movement of
the 1960s, we can clearly see, as the poverty rates and prison
percentages of this country illustrate, that we are still living in a land
where institutionalized racism is the status quo. The government has
an even easier time persecuting LGBTQ people and illegal
immigrants, because groups such as these are exempted from
discrimination laws. Rule of institutionalized racism, patriarchy,
homophobia, nationalism, and ablism are all perpetually being
written and rewritten by lawmakers and businesspeople.

I think that it is fair to say that not only do governments and
businesses engage in discrimination, but that they thrive on this
separation because it enables them to keep society divided and
unable to unite against them. As long as we are thinking of
discriminations and privileges as pegs in a hierarchy of oppression,
we are allowing ourselves to be ruled and segmented.

I believe that a world worth living in is one where all people can be
equal; in which all people are free to make their own choices, as long
as they are not hurting anyone else; in which all people benefit from
the joys of diversity. I believe in a world where nobody dominates
another, where nobody is allowed to push other people down to raise
their own status, and in which people are not punished for their race,
gender, sex, sexuality, culture, upbringing, or disability. I think that
all of these forces of oppression are tied into the broader systems of
control maintained and necessitated by capitalism, the state, and the
church — systems that reinforce, rely on, and benefit from our
individual and collective hatreds and prejudices.

I think it is unhealthy to segregate or rank oppressions. If we live in a
world where white women are equal to white men, but the rest of the
world suffers in poverty, there are still problems to be dealt with. If
we live in a world where people of different ethnicities are given
equal opportunity (currently not the case, despite common
mythology!), but where gay people are allowed to be beaten up on
the street, murdered or marginalized, that is not a good world. If we
live in a world where gay and lesbian people have access to marriage
rights, but where poor people do not have access to clean drinking
water or healthcare, that is not a good world. Destroying the
structures of capitalism may end or lessen poverty or inequality, but
that won’t necessarily make people any less racist, sexist, or
homophobic. Finding one piece of the puzzle will not necessarily
solve all or any of the other problems that we face.

I think it is important to forge strategies for social change which
recognize the importance of all of these oppressions, and which
include the experience of a wide variety of perspectives. In addition,
we can use the alliances and understanding forged from working on
these complex issues to deal with the so-called “big picture":
fighting capitalism and the state.

As long as one person is oppressed, all people are oppressed. We
should not accept the tools that the ruling classes use to stratify us
and keep us divided. I think that the goal of any revolutionary activist
should be to learn how to combat these systematic oppressions, and
how to eliminate them wherever they exist. We must educate
ourselves to understand them, and deal with them in our own

The Perfect Pope

by frog

The pope is considered to be the terrestrial leader of the Roman
Catholic church, elected by a conclave of archbishops, ordained by
the almighty himself. A divine ruler, he is supposed to be celibate
and infallible. His church, the Roman Catholic or “universal”
church, is one of the world’s wealthiest organizations. The pope
remains in power until he dies or chooses to resign —
“he,” because officially a woman pope is not an option, and
never has been for the church’s seventeen hundred years.
Women are evil, as demonstrated by our sinful seductress
predecessor, Eve.

Since the church was founded by Saint Peter, there have been many
popes. But which guy was the best? Who was the overachiever?
Who was the most popular? Who was the most infallible and who
was the most celibate? Who was most macho? Who maintained
earthy priorities? And are any of them as perfect as they claimed?

There have been many scandalous popes. Pope Benedict XVI is
rumored to have Nazi ties. The previous, Polish pope, John Paul II,
was supposedly involved with the Nazis too. And there was that pope
that put Galileo on house arrest.

These are all noble achievements. However, I believe Pope
Alexander VI was exceptional. Let me tell you his story.

Rodrigo Borgia was given the name Alexander VI when he became
pope in 1492 (and Columbus sailed the ocean blue). His uncle had
already been pope before him, and Rodrigo had held many Vatican
offices simultaneously prior to being elected pope himself. An adept
womanizer, he sprinkled illegitimate children throughout Rome.

Alexander’s favorite lover bore him his four most beloved
children: Giovanni, Cesare, Lucrezia, and Geoffredo. Giovanni, the
eldest, had his father’s good looks and womanizing skills. He
frequently held carnally indulgent celebrations. He was the favorite
son, the firstborn who would inherit all his father’s wealth and
even the papacy if Alexander could establish a Borgia dynasty.

However, Cesare, the insanely jealous second-eldest child, had
Giovanni murdered, and then became his father’s new favorite.
In a short time, Cesare’s uninhibited ambition made him the
most feared man in Italy. He was the Vatican’s military leader,
murdered anyone who looked at him the wrong way, and took his
younger brother’s wife for a lover. Cesare was notorious for
stealing brides.

Alexander VI himself was a very indulgent man. He held feasts and
orgies in his and his children’s honor. One of the most infamous
was the “chestnut orgy,” where Alexander skipped vespers
to feast with his children. There was wild dancing, and nude
prostitutes were summoned to crawl on the floor and gather
chestnuts in any way they could without using their hands. At the
end of the party, Lucrezia rewarded silk scarves to the courtesans
who had accomplished the highest number of sexual endeavors with
the court servants. The Borgias were famous for these sorts of
magnificent celebrations.

Lucrezia had blond hair and a fair complexion, two qualities that
made her extremely desirable by Renaissance beauty standards. Her
family used her as a pawn to form political alliances through
marriage. Lucrezia was first married off at the tender age of thirteen
to Giovanni Sforza. The alliance with the Sforzas was important at
the time, but when the alliance was no longer useful, the Borgias
attempted to take Giovanni Sforza’s life. When that failed,
Alexander demanded that the couple divorce, on grounds that the
marriage was never consummated. The ex-husband was forced to
publicly declare impotence. Lucrezia, too, had to profess her
virginity. She was six months pregnant at the time.

Lucrezia’s child was known as infans romanus, meaning child
of Rome. It was never proven who the father of the child was. Some
people believe the father was a messenger for Alexander VI. Some
believe the father was Cesare Borgia. Others believe that the father
was Alexander himself, making Alexander both his son’s father
and grandfather. Whatever. It was always a firmly guarded family

Lucrezia’s carefully chosen second husband, Alfonso di
Bisceglie, was attacked by Cesare’s henchmen. It was an
unsuccessful murder attempt, but the husband was killed in his bed
days later. This was extremely unfortunate, because he and Lucrezia
actually did have a loving relationship. Some historians suspected
that Cesare might have been romantically involved with his younger
sister, which would explained why he killed any man she was with.

The third choice for Lucrezia was a man from the most wealthy
family in Italy. He was Alfonso d’Este. Alexander used his
political leverage to get the alliances he needed from the Estense
family. Lucrezia grew to be an important part of the Estense family,
and remained part of it until she died from childbirth complications
at the age of thirty-nine.

I must also mention the poisonings. The Borgias had a very efficient
method of ridding themselves of political enemies. The unfortunate
victim would be invited to dine at the Vatican with the Borgias. To
refuse such an invitation was a grave sin, and could potentially lead
to excommunication. During dinner, the victim would be slipped
poison in their wine, and eventually die. It was rumored that
Lucrezia wore a hollow ring which encased the poison; however,
there has been no evidence to prove that Lucrezia ever had such a
ring. For many years, the Borgias employed poisoning to rid
themselves of their enemies. Alexander himself might have died
from a poisoning gone wrong, after he drank his own poison by

Alexander VI and his crazy kids were a controversial family. There
have been many books that document the lives of the Borgia
children, and I have heard that a movie about Lucrezia is coming out
soon too. Greed and nepotism were common of Renaissance popes,
but Alexander took them to the max. His family was rich, inbred,
illegitimate, and holy all at the same time.

The Vatican has yet to release the official Borgia documents for
public scrutiny.

Don’t Slice Babies’ Junk Off Dammit!!

by anonymous

As practiced here in America, circumcision is the surgical removal
of genital tissue, called foreskin, from infant boys. It is considered by
many Americans to be a beneficial and benign medical procedure.
However, in sync with much of the rest of the world, American
opinion towards circumcision is changing as more people become
aware of the benefits of genital integrity, as well as the negative
long-term consequences of this outdated, violent and tragic violation
of human rights.

The routine circumcision of infant males is a solution to problems
that don't exist in the first place. The most common defense of
circumcision made by everyday Americans boils down to “I'm
circumcised (or my partner is) and I'm just fine. Don't tell me what
to do to MY baby." The claim is also commonly made that removal
of foreskin makes the male's genitals easier to clean and less prone
to infection. This argument assumes that an intact foreskin is not
hygenic, and susceptibile to infection — problems that do not
actually exist among genitally intact male populations. I've heard
and read of claims that circumcision reduces the risk of prostate,
penile, and cervical cancer. However, the medical community at
large does not support these claims by any means. In fact, no
pediatric organization in the country recommends or endorses the
procedure as a valid medical procedure for any of these medical

It's common to hear that uncircumcised penises are gross, smelly, or
aesthetically unpleasing. But imagine someone advocating for the
removal of female genital tissue to fix a perceived (but not actual)
problem with the natural odor and shape of vaginas — which, by
the way, varies widely from one woman to the next. Even though it's
the exact same argument, most of American society would be
outraged if female circumcisions were performed in this country.
Still, for some reason, the cultural practice of male genital mutilation
is disguised as a beneficial medical intervention, and circumcision
continues in America.

Among the myths about circumcision is the mistaken idea that the
foreskin is “extra" skin, and not a necessary, integral part of the
entire penis. This misunderstanding of male genital anatomy is
tragically common in mainstream American culture. In many ways,
explaining an intact, uncircumcised penis to a man circumcised
shortly after birth is like attempting to explain colors to a blind
person. First, the blind person has to believe and trust you that such
a thing as “sight" exists in the first place; then, there is no deeply
satisfying way to communicate an experience that is derived from
organs that someone else simply does not have.

Most circumcised men no longer have enough tissue to masturbate
the way nature intended. Intact (uncircumcised) males do not
require synthetic lubrication to masturbate to orgasm because of the
way the intact foreskin folds in on itself, rubbing against both itself
and the head of the penis. This can come as a surprise to many
circumcised men, if they are used to using their hand directly on the
remaining erogenous tissue with the aid of artificial lubricants.

After becoming educated about circumcision, some men have
decided to modify their penises by non-surgically expanding the
penile skin to approximate some of the benefits of a real foreskin.
This is called foreskin restoration, and is based on the fact that,
under the right circumstances, a body will manufacture new skin
cells. Foreskin restoration can improve sexual functioning
dramatically and can also aid emotional healing. Many men who
undertake foreskin restoration report significant positive changes in
sexual sensitivity and function.

However, the tissue removed during circumcision can never be
brought back. There are sensations that men circumcised as infants
will never feel, because their penises were never allowed to develop
into the sensory organs their DNA had intended. This is a sad
realization for many men to make. Anger, frustration and depression
are common reactions to understanding what they have lost. What
follows are verbal descriptions of a few of the body parts removed by
circumcision, compiled by the National Organization for Restoring

* The foreskin’s gliding action is a hallmark feature of the
normal, natural, intact penis. This non-abrasive gliding of the penis
in and out of its own shaft skin facilitates smooth, comfortable,
pleasurable intercourse for both partners. Without this gliding action,
the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve,
making artificial lubricants necessary for comfortable intercourse.

The return of this natural gliding action is one of the primary
benefits of foreskin restoration. In many cases, wives of restoring
men were initially doubtful about restoration but came to value it
highly when their husbands had grown enough new skin to effect
greater levels of comfort and pleasure during intercourse.

[Source: P. M. Fleiss, MD, MPH, “The Case Against
Circumcision,” Mothering: The Magazine of Natural Family
Living (Winter 1997): 36-45.]

* The frenar band is a group of soft ridges near the junction of the
inner and outer foreskin. This region is the primary erogenous zone
of the intact male body. Loss of this delicate belt of densely
innervated, sexually responsive tissue reduces the fullness and
intensity of sexual response.

[Source: Taylor, J. R. et al., “The Prepuce: Specialized Mucosa
of the Penis and Its Loss to Circumcision,” British Journal of
Urology, 77 (1996): 291-295.]

* There is no known method of restoring the frenar band.

Circumcision removes the most important sensory component of the
foreskin - thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors called Meissner's
corpuscles. Also lost are branches of the dorsal nerve, and between
10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several
types. Together these detect subtle changes in motion and
temperature, as well as fine gradations in texture.

[Sources: 1. R. K. Winkelmann, “The Erogenous Zones: Their
Nerve Supply and Its Significance,” Proceedings of the Staff
Meetings of the Mayo Clinic, 34 (1959): 39-47. 2. R. K.
Winkelmann, “The Cutaneous Innervation of Human Newborn
Prepuce,” Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 26 (1956):

* There is no known method of restoring Meissner's corpuscles or
other specialized sensory nerve cells. However, restoring and
restored men almost universally experience tremendous increases in
sensitivity, in part because the highly sensitive nerve cells in the
glans are no longer buried under several layers of keratinized skin.

The frenulum is a highly erogenous V-shaped structure on the
underside of the glans that tethers the foreskin. During circumcision
it is frequently either amputated with the foreskin or severed, which
destroys or diminishes its sexual and physiological functions.

[Sources: 1. Cold, C, Taylor, J, "The Prepuce," BJU International,
83, Suppl. 1, (1999): 34-44. 2. Kaplan, G.W., “Complications of
Circumcision," Urologic Clinics of North America, 10, 1983.]

* If the frenulum is amputated, there is no known method of
replacing it. If only a small portion of the frenulum is left, it is
probably no longer functional as a tethering structure. There is no
known method of attaching it to a restored foreskin, but some men
have reported stretching the frenulum remnant as they stretched
their foreskin.

Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and
branches of the dorsal artery, are removed in circumcision. The loss
of this rich vascularization interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft
and glans of the penis, damaging the natural function of the penis
and altering its development.

[Sources: 1. H. C. Bazett et al., "Depth, Distribution and Probable
Identification in the Prepuce of Sensory End-Organs Concerned in
Sensations of Temperature and Touch; Thermometric
Conductivity," Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 27 (1932):
489-517. 2. Netter, F.H., Atlas of Human Anatomy, Second Edition
(Novartis, 1997): plates 238, 239.]

* There is no known method of restoring arteries and vessels that
were removed during circumcision. However, many restoring men
have noticed that the new skin is more richly vascularized than the
older skin of their penis. We have no medical explanation for this

Circumcision performed during infancy disrupts the bonding process
between child and mother. There are indications that the innate
sense of trust in intimate human contact is inhibited or lost. It can
also have significant adverse effects on neurological development.
Additionally, an infant's self-confidence and hardiness is diminished
by forcing the newborn victim into a defensive psychological state of
"learned helplessness" or "acquired passivity" to cope with the
excruciating pain which he can neither fight nor flee. The trauma of
this early pain lowers a circumcised boy's pain threshold below that
of intact boys and girls.

[Sources: 1. R. Goldman, Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma
(Boston: Vanguard Publications, 1997), 139-175. 2. A. Taddio et al.,
"Effect of Neonatal Circumcision on Pain Responses during
Vaccination in Boys," Lancet 345 (1995): 291-292.]

Body modification has a long history. It is one of the many ways that
people choose to express their individuality and cultural ties. It is
clearly within an individual's personal rights to modify their own
body in any way that they see fit. Sadly, countless people have had
their bodies modified without their consent in violent, damaging
ways. Genital mutilation of any sex or gender takes place at the
intersections of patriarchy, institutional sexual violence, blind
tradition and the struggle against human-rights abuses.

When and which sex that genital mutilation is performed on differs
from culture to culture. Adolescent boys, young girls, and infant
boys are all among the victims. Some mutilators make a slit at the
opening of the foreskin. Some remove the labia. Some remove the
entire foreskin and frenulum. Some remove the clitoris, labia and
then surgically narrow the vagina. In the United States,
circumcisions are performed on infant males as a matter of course,
without a diagnosable problem. These are all human tragedies, and a
part of war culture.

The first step towards healing from these culturally inflicted wounds
is refusing to participate. Thankfully, resources exist in print and
online for learning how to take care of your intact son. Do the right
thing and honor the bodily integrity of your child. Children deserve a
warm welcome into the world and into adult society. As a culture we
have the option to replace traumatizing, violent initiation rituals with
ones of caring, compassion and connection. Start honoring your
child from the day he's born and refuse to allow non-medical
circumcision. Take this step towards ending sexual violence on all
fronts and creating a safe space for all people to experience their own
physical and spiritual connection to themselves, free from violence.

Educational Resources:

* Raising Intact Sons:


* Doctors Opposing Circumcision:


* National Organization for Restoring Men:


* Circumcisions Resource Center:


* DMOZ Directory :


* International Coalition for Genital Integrity :

<http://www.icgi.org/ asdfsd>

* The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource



* Jewish Circumcision Resource Center:


bell hooks: two reviews

1: by frog

I have read many books on feminism as well as a few books by bell
hooks. I’ve found that there is not much feminist literature
addressing the negative effects of patriarchy on men; most feminist
books focus only on the plight of women in contemporary society.
When I heard about the subject of bell hooks’ newest book, The
Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, I thought that she had
to be joking. The book was explaining the need for masculinity.
Obviously, hooks had lost her feminist focus. She was getting too
soft. Women do not need masculinity in their lives, if they choose.
Still, despite my uncertainty, when I found the book at the Tempe
Public Library I took it home.

The Will to Change discusses the condition of the male in our
patriarchal culture. Many women, claims hooks, desire more
intimate relationships with their male partners; however, many
women still fail miserably at finding satisfying loving relationships
with men. hooks makes the case that this trend of dysfunction
between men, women, and other gender identities is caused by
patriarchy — societal male dominance. Women and men both
suffer under the patriarchal system. The Will to Change addresses
the emotional and psychological problems that men face under a
social system in which little boys can be avoided emotionally by both
male and female peers and family members. Antisocial behavior is
seen as normal in male teenagers, which causes men to often
remain emotionally immature compared to their female

hooks also discusses children’s literature, and offers a feminist
critique of Harry Potter.

The Will to Change describes behavioral trends that I have noticed
throughout my own life in male friends, family members, and lovers.
This book satiated my desire to understand the culturally imposed
dissimilarities between men and women. I recommend it to anyone
who is striving to understand the behavior of the people they care


2: by sallydarity

I got discouraged from writing a book review of bell hooks' The Will
to Change about a year ago — not because it wasn't an amazing
book, but because I didn’t know how to choose from the dozen
quotes I’d collected to include in the review. I didn’t want to
leave out any of the points hooks made in the book. To keep this
short, I’ll just share one quote:

Many men are angry at women, but more profoundly, women are
the targets for displaced male rage at the failure of patriarchy to
make good on its promise of fulfillment, especially endless sexual
fulfillment. Men may be too terrified to confront the facts of their
lives and tell the truth that possessing the right to engage in rituals of
domination and subordination is not all that patriarchy promised it
would be. (84)

Within a short amount of time, a few of my friends and myself
determined that we wanted all guys to read this book. We think it
has the potential to spark a change in guys, and ideally create a
situation where we can have more equal relationships. Although the
book is not just for men, it provides a lot of insight into what shapes
boys and men, and how a lot of them might heal them from
domineering emotional cripples into allies to women, and traitors to
patriarchal masculinity. For feminists, reading this book might help
to reignite a compassion for, and deeper understanding of,
patriarchal males.

hooks is not afraid to ask some of the more difficult questions facing
feminism and gender equality: Are men also victims of patriarchy?
Are men truly privileged if they cannot have equal relationships? Do
women perpetuate patriarchy? Can men change, and how?

hooks points out that, since it affects both men and women
negatively, everyone has an interest in fighting patriarchy — and
that we might get closer to ending patriarchy if we stopped calling
what men have “privilege.”

You might think that this book undermines the work feminists have
done toward claiming victimhood. But while hooks doesn’t let
your average feminist get away with claims based on blame and
power-grabbing, she also isn’t easy on the guys
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