Chag Sameach!

Blacklisting is familiar to many American Jews. Both Robert Naiman and I are “red diaper grandbabies”: his Jewish grandfather was blacklisted, as was my Jewish great-uncle, and my Jewish grandparents were terrified former Communist Party members in rural Indiana. When I was a child, my mother sternly warned me never to say her parents were Communists out loud – she had grown up in a climate of terror and silence.

Many American Jews have been Communists. Many more have been deeply committed to Civil Rights, particularly Free Speech. I understood better why on a recent trip to Poland, where I met not a single Pole who had ever attended a Passover seder. This included Poles descended from Jews, who are legion. In Seder-Masochism, I wonder aloud why my father, an atheist, raised us observing Passover. In Poland, I got my answer: Because he could. Because in America we were free to do Passover — to not only be ethnically Jewish, but to say out loud what Jews were forbidden to say in Poland. This meant an annual Passover seder without fear.

While today’s ACLU is a disgrace, in its better days its membership was disproportionately Jewish. American Jews understood the importance of Speech, including – especially – speech you disagree with. Although the ACLU no longer understands this, some of us American Jews still do.

We wanted to screen Seder-Masochism during the week of Passover. Robert signed a contract with the Art Theater and made a deposit, but when the Art’s Executive Director realized the film was by local witch/scapegoat Nina Paley, she cancelled the contract. I’ve been blacklisted in Champaign-Urbana for saying the forbidden: that women don’t have penises. For this, my screenings have been cancelled, my voice silenced, and my life threatened. Those responsible may think this has nothing to do with Jews, but they are re-enacting patterns very familiar to Jews indeed. Patterns that never end well, for anyone. Patterns that resulted in most Poles having no idea what Passover is.

Blacklisted by the Art, Robert turned to the only centrally-located theater left, the 1,463-seat Virginia, a beautifully restored movie palace owned and operated by the Champaign Park District. As a government enterprise, the Virginia must respect the First Amendment. (It also helps that, unlike the Art, the Virginia is not run by repressive ideologues.)

The theater is truly gorgeous, and huge. It will be a struggle to fill all 1,463 seats. Can you help? Admission is FREE, you need only get to Champaign, IL. If you donate $250 or more to the event’s GoFundMe, you get to have dinner with me and Robert in downtown Champaign (restaurant to be determined) before the screening.  A donation of $1,463 gets you this beautiful Goddess quilt. For us, the greatest gift would be to see hundreds of you at the Virginia Theater on May 8, because Free Speech is priceless.

Help us fill seats by printing and posting flyers!

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SEDER-MASOCHISM: A free public screening, featuring a panel discussion with filmmaker Nina Paley immediately following the movie

At The Virginia Theater, Champaign IL, May 8 @7pm

Date/Time(s): Wed, May 8, 2019 – 7pm (doors open at 6pm)

Seating: General Admission

Tickets: FREE and open to the public

(2018) 78 Min, Not Rated
Loosely following a traditional Passover Seder, events from the Book of Exodus are retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus, and the director’s own father. But there’s another side to this story: that of the Goddess, humankind’s original deity. Seder-Masochism resurrects the Great Mother in a tragic struggle against the forces of Patriarchy.

The film features the voice of the late Hiram Paley, known to many C-U residents as former mayor of Urbana, U of I math professor, and lifelong free speech advocate.

For more, visit sedermasochism.com.

The screening will be followed by a live panel discussion featuring filmmaker Nina Paley, Just Foreign Policy Director Robert Naiman, and other special guests.

Presented by Just Foreign Policy.

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Sewer Mastodon

As my eyes scanned this morning’s paper, I thought I saw “Seder Masochism” in a headline. Brains are weird.

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Blacklisted, Bullied, Threatened and Libeled

Robert Naiman, a local Urbana-Champaign activist and Jew, wanted to see my new film, Seder-Masochism, in a theater, during the week of Passover. So he arranged to rent the Art Theater for April 23rd. Then this happened:

March 29, 2019
Jerry PayonkPresident, Board of Directors, the Art Film Foundation


Dear Mr. Payonk, 
I wish to rent the Art Theater on the evening of April 23 to show the film Seder-Masochism by Nina Paley. On Monday, following the instructions on the Art Theater website, I wrote to this address: ed@artfilmfoundation.org. On Tuesday afternoon I received a reply email from Porshé Garner telling me that this date was available, and attaching the rental agreement. On Wednesday afternoon, I dropped off the signed and completed rental agreement, along with a check for $175, according to the instructions, half the rental fee as security deposit, believing that this would secure the date. Yesterday, I received an email from Ms. Garner telling me that she had no information about the event, including the name of the movie, even though I had included this in the rental form. I wrote back with links to information about the movie. Today Ms. Garner told me by phone that at her discretion, the Art would not allow me to rent the theater to show the movie because of political controversy apparently not related to the movie. 
I was shocked. There was nothing in the information on the website or the form that suggested to me that I would be prevented from renting the theater to show a movie because of any political controversy apparently not related to the movie. I do not understand this at all. I believe that my rights of free expression are being violated by the apparent decision of Ms. Garner not to allow me to rent the theater to show a movie based on my political views. In addition, I feel betrayed as someone who has been a longtime patron, supporter, and booster of the Art. I have repeatedly donated money to the Art, including recently in response to your appeal to help raise “25K in 25 Days,” and encouraged others to do so. 
I urge you to use whatever power you have to reverse Ms. Garner’s apparent decision to prevent me from renting the Art theater to show a movie, based on my political views.  
===
Robert Reuel Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Robert received this reply the next day:

From: Jerald T. Payonk <Jerry.Payonk@clarkdietz.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 2:39 PM
Subject: RE: request to overturn apparent decision to bar me from renting the Art to show a movie
To: Robert Naiman <naiman@justforeignpolicy.org>

Mr. Naiman:

I will being your issue up to the Board in the next day and get back to you immediately.

Thanks you,


Jerald T. Payonk, PE

Clark Dietz, Inc.

217.373.8945

2 days later, he received this:

Mr. Naiman:
 
Last night the Art Film Foundation Board of Directors discussed your request to rent the Art Theater to show the film Seder-Masochism by Nina Paley. The Board supports our Executive Director’s decision to deny this rental.


Jerald T. Payonk
Art Film Foundation Board President

Because I’m blacklisted in my town, this Jew can’t show my Jewish movie on the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover is what Seder-Masochism is about — not “gender,” which I’m constantly reminded my “controversial” “hateful” “violent” views about are revolting, even if some still deign to show the film anyway, reminding me they TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH ME ABOUT GENDER (because I say penises are male, which isn’t even about gender – it’s about sex).

Meanwhile, a typical member of the Champaign Urbana Liberal Transactivists (you figure out the acronym) publishes the following about me on social media:

Since it’s important to know your local promoters of hateful ideologies and how they are organizing, I wanted to share that our local outspoken transphobe Nina Paley recently joined the “alternative influence network”. She did this by teaming up to do a youtube video with Jordan Peterson(You can see his AIN connection in the attached image). The AIN is a group of “scholars, media pundits and internet celebrities promoting a range of rightwing political positions, from mainstream conservatism to overt white nationalism. They are broadly united by their reactionary position: an opposition to feminism, social justice and leftwing politics and present themselves as an underdog alternative to the mainstream media.”
The clear purpose of her video with the Lobster Daddy(Jordan Peterson) was to game the youtube algorithm to help connect her TERF following with Jordan Peterson’s online tribe of alienated, resentful young men. And now when you watch her youtube videos you may also get suggestions for Jordan Peterson videos. So remember you’re under no obligation to share her videos, be her FB friend, or let her speak at your event!!
And I’m actually quite unsure about the best practices to deal with her ongoing attacks and harassment of the trans community and anyone who shows support for trans rights. I personally feel being around people who are aware of these ideologies and have taken some time to understand how they operate is a good start for creating supportive community. So with that in mind I’ll share some resources in the comments that examine TERF and Lobster Daddy ideologies and practices. And please feel free to do the same!
Image Source: https://datasociety.net/output/alternative-influence/

(This should go without saying, but: I am not right-wing, nor white supremacist, nor transphobic, and I did do an interview with Jordan Peterson.)

Lying about me as above serves to target me further among the local vulnerable dyed-hair populace. One of whom was met with by my friend C. after my March 23 panel at the Library (more on that below). Speaking of which, I reserved the library auditorium for that talk 6 weeks prior to the event. One week before, some Champaign Urbana Liberal Transactivists (I should really use an acronym) reserved the same room on the same day for a counter-event. Here are some screenshots from an organizer, targeting me by name and rife with “jokes” (not) about crowbars and “starting shit”:

Screenshot

Screenshot

Screenshot

After the panel and counter-event, my friend C encountered a be-wigged man she knew outside the library, who declared in public he didn’t attend the panel because “I would have tried to kill Nina Paley.”

“Why?” asked C.

“Because she says I’m not a woman!”

According to C, this person is a large man, who nobody thinks is a woman, and who feels comfortable expressing a desire to kill me, in public, supported by his friends and other Champaign Urbana Liberal Transactivists (acronym).

Blacklisted, Bullied, Libeled, Threatened: you’d think someone would be interested in my civil liberties. But it wouldn’t be the ACLU, because last year they officially decided “marginalized communities” (men) are more important than Freedom of Speech:

On June 21, 2018, a leaked memo showed that the ACLU has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm marginalized groups by undermining their civil rights. “Speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality,” the ACLU declared in guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities.”[381] 

link

So, while I’m blacklisted, bullied, libeled, and threatened, the Illinois ACLU is getting this male prisoner who strangled his cellmate into a women’s prison. He identifies as a woman now, making him the “most marginalized,” while my saying penises are male is “hate speech.” (Like everyone else I don’t want male prisoners harassed and assaulted by male cellmates, and would totally support transgender wings in male prisons for the protection of such persons, but housing a violent male who strangled his male cellmate to death with vulnerable women is insane and evil).

And that’s why I’m blacklisted (and bullied, libeled, and threatened).

Related reading: Open Letter to the University of Illinois

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Q and A from the “Does Sex Matter?” panel

Panelists Carey Callahan, Nina Paley, and Corinna Cohn answer questions on “Does Sex Matter? Gender Identity vs Material Reality,” March 23 at the Urbana Free Library in Urbana Illinois.

This filled my vimeo upload limit for the week. I will post links to the first part of the panel, including our talks and statements, as soon as I get them. (For now there’s another recording on fecebook, but I am loath to ask people to spend even more time on that sinister platform.) See the First part of the panel (partially sideways!) on youtube.

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REMINDER: This is TODAY, March 23rd!

Panel: Does Sex Matter? Gender Identity vs. Material Reality

Guernsey_Women_at_the_Stake

Saturday, March 23rd, 3-5pm
Urbana Free Library, Lewis Auditorium (downstairs)
210 W. Green Street, Urbana IL 61801

A transwoman, a detransitioner, and a radical feminist walk into a Library…. Speaking from different perspectives on modern gender identity politics, these three panelists agree that all people broadly deserve civil rights protections. But should gender identity replace sex as a legal category? Women – particularly marginalized, imprisoned, lesbian, and abused women – pay the highest price for this trend, as sex-based protections and resources are rolled back in the name of “inclusivity.”

Despite their unwavering support for individual expression, each speaker has faced repercussions for critically analyzing gender identity, including threats of violence, professional blacklisting, and loss of friendships. They join for this event in the hope it will encourage wider civil and respectful discussion.

No lives will be harmed or erased while exploring these topics.

Panelists:

Corinna Cohn is an adult transsexual from Indianapolis. Having undertaken hormone therapies and sex reassignment surgery as a teenager, Corinna addresses the responsibilities accrued by a male inhabiting the social role of women, and what young people should know before making an irreversible commitment to transition.

Carey Callahan is a detransitioned woman and family therapist from Ohio. She  explores the role of sexism in the rise of youth referrals for gender dysphoria and the portrayal of detransitioners in the media.

Nina Paley is an animator from Urbana, best known for feature films Sita Sings the Blues and Seder-Masochism. An outspoken critic of both censorship and sexism, she has been no-platformed and blacklisted locally and abroad for saying penises are male.

Moderator:

Traci Nally is Executive Vice President & General Counsel for News-Gazette Media. For over 30 years, she has worked in the areas of defamation, access to public records and meetings, protection of reporters’ newsgathering privileges, and other first amendment and free speech related matters.

This program is not sponsored by The Urbana Free Library.

fecebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1089114847927752/

website link: https://blog.ninapaley.com/does-sex-matter/

Poster: print ‘n’ share:

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Identity and Political Power

I keep explaining to my friends that the reason people denounce me is because it gains them political power. This was the case 10+ years ago with Hindutvadi (Hindu nationalist fundamentalist) critics of Sita Sings the Blues: many knew nothing about the film, but condemning it, and me, was part of a political project in India. Please watch this video to understand how this is working in the US.

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October 14 event with Zsuzsanna Budapest

I’ll be returning to my old stomping grounds of Santa Cruz, CA in October (actually part of a longer North American film festival tour with Seder-Masochism, which I’ll announce soon).

Animated poster! Please share.

Animated poster! Please share.

The Goddess Animated: Nina Paley and Zsuzsanna Budapest

Double feature of Nina Paley animation! Each screening followed by dialog with Zsuzsanna Budapest and question-and-answer with audience.

1pm: Sita Sings the Blues
2009 Dir. Nina Paley
Paley’s award-winning 2009 animated musical interpretation of the Hindu epic Ramayana has earned widespread critical praise, a 100% rating on RottenTomatoes, and continued places on best-of lists. Roger Ebert wrote of it, “I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other.”

4pm: Seder-Masochism
2018 Dir. Nina Paley
Loosely following a traditional Passover Seder, events from the Book of Exodus are retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus, and the director’s own father. But there’s another side to this story: that of the Goddess, humankind’s original deity. Seder-Masochism resurrects the Great Mother in a tragic struggle against the forces of Patriarchy.

Suggested donation: $20 to support the Women’s Spirituality Forum.
Tickets at the door.

AMAZONS ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND!

Sunday October 14, 2018

Click image for high resolution poster to print out

Click image for high resolution poster to print out

Brookdale Terrace Club House
300 Plum St., Capitola, CA
Please carpool; parking is limited.

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Urbana IL to Crawfordsville IN on a Folding Bike

Last week I took a break from pushing pixels to have a life, and that life included a trip to Philadelphia. My departure station was Crawfordsville, IN. Since it was a nice day and winds were favorable, I rode the whole 80 miles on my Brompton folding bike, which I’d planned to take to Philly with me anyway. I’d really been neglecting the Brompton this Summer, as my back prefers recumbents. But it’s still a sweet bike, and with frequent breaks for back stretches, I made it without damaging myself.

My route, according to Strava (which used up all my high speed bandwidth for this billing cycle).

My route, according to Strava (which used up all my high speed bandwidth for this billing cycle).

First back-stretch stop, just north-east of Urbana IL.

First back-stretch stop, just north-east of Urbana IL.

Continue reading Urbana IL to Crawfordsville IN on a Folding Bike

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My Car-Free Life

Another Pecha Kucha talk I did (here’s the other one). Slides and text after the fold.

Continue reading My Car-Free Life

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Choose your favorite Behemoth

Some Behemoth designs-in-progress, head only.

Behemoth 1

Behemoth 2

Behemoth 3

Behemoth 4

Like Leviathan, Behemoth is kosher, so I infer he/she/it is a cloven-hooved cud-chewer.

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Cute Cat Video

Sometimes you just have to make a cute cat video. This one stars my cat Bruno, and doubles as a music video for my friend Bliss Blood.

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Four Freedoms of Free Culture

In my endless attempt to explain what’s wrong with Creative Commons’ “non-commercial” and “no derivatives” restrictions, I came across this 2005 article by Benjamin Mako Hill:

Free Software’s fundamental document is Richard Stallman’s Free Software Definitions (FSD) [3]. At its core, the FSD lists four freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose;
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs;
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor;
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits;

…For the CC founders and many of CC’s advocates, FOSS’s success is a source of inspiration. However, despite CC’s stated desire to learn from and build upon the example of the free software movement, CC sets no defined limits and promises no freedoms, no rights, and no fixed qualities. Free software’s success is built upon an ethical position. CC sets no such standard.

This has led to a proliferation of harmful and incompatible CC-NC and CC-ND licensed works, mistakenly labeled “Free.” Mako Hill points out that while Creative Commons pursued its goal of “Balance, compromise, and moderation,” it failed to define or defend any core freedoms. Indeed, there seems to be no concern about what the “Free” in Free Culture means. To most it means, “slightly less restrictive than modern copyright.” Even so, most CC licenses are more restrictive than pre-1970’s copyright (because modern copyright’s extended terms and more draconian punishments for infringements still apply).

Fortunately the Four Freedoms of Free Software easily apply to Culture:

  1. the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  2. the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  3. the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  4. the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

That’s not so hard, is it?

Ironically I was arguing with Richard Stallman last month about the Free Software Foundation‘s use of -ND licenses on its cultural works. A film they sponsored, Patent Absurdity, has “no derivatives” restrictions even though it could be greatly improved by editing, and clips could be highly beneficial in other works. Freedom #4 FAIL. Even the FSF fails to apply the Four Freedoms to Culture!

Software IS Culture. Many in the Free Software Movement draw a false distinction between “utility” and “aesthetics,” claiming software is useful and culture is just pretty or entertaining. But you never know how a cultural work might prove useful to someone else down the line. If you treat it as non-useful, and restrict it to prevent other uses, then of course it won’t be useful – you’ve restricted its utility through an unFree license.

The Free Software community needs to learn that Software is Culture. The Free Culture community needs to learn that Free is Free.

FREE. CULTURE. It’s not so hard.

Addendum: I consider Richard Stallman a friend. I argue with him, without thinking less of him. I’m grateful he’s his stubborn self. I just happen to not agree with him about restrictive licenses on cultural works.

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The World Wide Web, Circa 1995

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Sita returns to the IFC Film Center, this weekend and next

Another chance to see Sita Sings the Blues on the big screen in New York!

Nothing compares to a real cinema: a big dark room, quality projection, and your fellow human beings who briefly transform from strangers into a community as they experience art together.
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