A Little Good News

Comments

1
And Madonna, shockingly enough.
2
I hope the first thing they do is buy a ticket out of that country or they'll just end up getting lynched by their backwater, voodoo neighbors.
3
This is absolutely wonderful news. But I have to second number two, they're going to get murdered by a mob of radicals as soon as they are released....
4
Not just "good news," but "Hell yeah, good news."
5
Ha ha ha HA, HAAAA, HAAA! I like it when rich nations bully poor ones for a GOOD cause, for a change.
6
Mutharika's addendum that homosexuality is still wrong and illegal bothers me, but props for doing one good thing.
And Alleged/Loveschild, if you don't like that they got set free, you can bite my shiny metal ass.
7
Some of us patiently wait — mostly for hell to freeze over.

Time for some Erasure. I think "Stop!" would be a good one right about nao.
8
Bear in mind he could've put a stop to it before trial, but noo..... he had to milk it for maximum publicity and minimum domestic uproar, at the expense of the couple.
9
@7: http://namitembo.blogspot.com/2009/12/ma…

Interestingly, the two appear to self-identify as a gay couple, rather than as a heterosexual man and a transgendered woman; Steven says he's never been interested in women, and that he finally realized he was gay upon meeting Tiwonge (at church). At any rate, his lack of attraction to the opposite sex doesn't seem to hinder his feelings for Tiwonge.
10
@7: And from the White House's statement:

The White House is pleased to learn of President Bingu wa Mutharika's pardon of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. These individuals were not criminals and their struggle is not unique. We must all recommit ourselves to ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity. We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe.


What am I missing?
11
What you're missing, inter alia, is thus, Baconcat:

1) Authority of citation. In the blog posting, you're citing an armchair analysis by a visiting western white guy in Malawi who notes that he isn't even a journalist. What you missed is how this blogger is citing from a Malawian newspaper. In it, only Steven appears to be quoted in the blog commentary; nothing was mentioned about what Tiwonge said, expressed, or thought.

If Steven is gay, great. Throw that energy on making sure Steven gets refugee status and asylum elsewhere and gets on as a naturalized citizen in a place where he can feel a bit safer being an out gay man.

As for Tiwonge? Well, if or until we hear otherwise — the Advocate and the New York Times are both, in this context, indisputably hold more authority than a blogger — Tiwonge apparently isn't on the same page as Steven. What will probably happen to Tiwonge, if what we already know stays consistent, is probably a less promising fate than Steven. If lucky, Tiwonge may survive five more years and probably die in Malawi. If I'm wrong, then I'll eat a basket of soggy, cold fries from Dicks at 2a.

2) Relevance. I'm really not seeing the relevance of the White House press statement in the context of this continuing discussion.
12

And, as part of their release, they must never refer to me as "Bingu".
13
@11: The White House, with considerable diplomatic authority, references gender identity. It sounds like the bulk of the outrage and commentary seemed to stress this point strongly enough that the government took notice.

I think your argument is rather clear on its face: that any reference of a gay relationship or the usage of the term indicates erasure. There is no subtlety to this. However, it doesn't change that the law and the prescribed punishment mirror exactly the same one would face if it were two males. Trying to push as hard as you can into denying that very basic concept is rather insulting, and then, to top it all of, you heap a hypothetical death in there to salt the earth and win the oppression olympics.

You also endeavor to basically revoke Steven's say in this, because you see no solidarity to him. In fact, you basically give a Pollyanna view of his fate and go so far as to imply that he'd made no consideration of the opinions or views of someone he saw fit to get engaged to in a place where such things are outright illegal.

In cases like this, it's far better to accept all sides and the breadth of the argument and issue rather than saying "no, this is how it is, you're wrong". Rather than do your best Mrs. Haddock impression, I suggest you accept that this is a delicate issue with a lot of nuance to practically everything that is said and done. It applies just as strongly to gay rights as it does to trans rights. LGBT, after all.

Or we could stop fucking around and nuke Africa.
14
@13: I (and others who've had a lot of time to think about it) pay little credence to the concept of "gender identity". That the White House uses it really doesn't change much either way. It's a lip service.

But given that I've sat back and watched you compete in the Slog's Oppression Olympics, I'm not really sure why slinging that here is terribly effective. Incidentally, you introduced me to the concept right here. That aside, let's have a look at this:
it doesn't change that the law and the prescribed punishment mirror exactly the same one would face if it were two males. Trying to push as hard as you can into denying that very basic concept is rather insulting.

Actually, I must disagree, especially in the broad-stroked context that a notably westernized framework for "homosexuality" has, particularly in the last 50 or 75 years, reified a construct of what that idea is supposed to encompass. Taken further, since about the early 1990s, transgenders have done much the same with a lot of people they shoved and beat into their cute, big, stupid umbrella.

How is this manifest? In the social-cultural anthropology context, the field study of local, indigenous cultures have, I politely argue, ascribed meaning to anything deviating from a western notion of heterosexuality and heteronormativity. At first, this is understandable, given that aggregated knowledge of cultural variety (sorry Claude Levi-Strauss, there is no unifying structure) made primitive distinctions between the familiar and the Other (in this case the Other is anything that which isn't a westernized concept of heteronormativity). That framework has informed non-western cultures (mostly though, I also argue, cultural imperialism) to turn to look at their own selves and re-frame their understanding of what they see in their back yard in a westernized context. The Other always gets the short end of the deal.

As this anthropological knowledge diversified and became more nuanced, the social-political current continually finds itself lagging way behind on what that social-cultural anthropologist is observing, recording, and analyzing at the local level. Unfortunately, they're also making these observations even as western cultural constructs creep in and re-shape the indigenous world view of these local communities. I have no doubt that other Tiwonges in Malawi's past have quietly existed and probably been embraced by the local, Gemeinschaft-oriented communities. But these are being subsumed by a rough transition to Gesellschaft communities like our own.

Who pays the price? Anyone "Othered", but also the nuance of that incipient society's structure also pays with its own existence being wiped out. In other words, the cultural woman and man and otherwise, respectively declared at birth as boy or girl or otherwise, becomes a thing of the forgotten past as this cultural knowledge is replaced by a discourse of "heterosexuality" and "homosexuality" — exported to them, of course, by us.

So what I see in this Malawi case is a bunch of social-political voices chiming in and using very blunt-force means which just carry along that erasure of non-western cultural history. What makes this story particularly high-profile is the immediacy and ubiquity of the internet and the westernized values assigned to the Steven-Tiwonge arrest.

That all said, ahem, yeah Baconcat, you're totally correct about the point I made in @11: it was bald-faced rhetoric and intended to be provocative — the latter not so much to be a bitch or troll, but because it challenges the world view brought on by our own cultural biases that do permeate everywhere and is exported elsewhere. This is less about "gay rights" or "trans rights" as you put it and more about the problem of broad-stroked oversimplification. Where I did so was less to define the case than it was to challenge the oversimplified working definitions (i.e., that Tiwonge must be gay, or gee, it doesn't matter, since oppression is all the same) being used in this story or in political circles.

Who's Mrs. Haddock?
15
Captain Haddock of Marlinspike Hall is one of my favorite old salts.
17
@14: It's as if they, the broader society and the media, felt a need to act first without really considering rhetoric and words or adhering to the AP Style Book.

Thank god Steven and Tiwonge weren't actually tigers wearing people suits.

I think we're overanalyzing this situation far too much. Even you are trying to apply western values to a rather large extent.
18
@17: Yeah, I am. That's an unavoidable precondition for having this conversation in the first place.

We could always go back to the tough ol' days of calling all gays and lesbians (which would certainly include me) a bunch of homosexuals in the social deviance usage of yore right alongside the padeophiles and zoophiles and bigamists and all the juicy bumper cars we use to differentiate the normative from unpalatable deviance. What are semantics for, really? I mean, words are just trains for moving past what really have no name anyway. Wait, who said that?

So why bother having language at all? Why don't we just let others name the language parameters for us and do exactly what Clayton Williams would recommend us to do in moments when we have no choice in the matter anyway?

Awwwh, I hear the rains coming.
19
Yay!
20
Yay indeed!