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Celebrate Every Victory, And Other Feedback On Our First Week

The Shadowproof Mailbag

August 3 – August 7 Edition

This second edition of the Shadowproof mailbag is dedicated to all our readers that participated in our community during our first week. I was consistently impressed by not just your insight, but also your kindness to each other in our conversations. Thank you for making our first steps so successful.

Along the same lines, we’ve simply had too many great comments to highlight them all here in the mailbag. Do yourself a favor and browse our posts from the past week. Wherever possible, we’ve “Featured” excellent comments. However, that does not mean other comments were not excellent as well. You’ll find great ideas or provocative notions in almost every thread. Below is a selection of our feedback with some responses from our staff.

Ag-Gag bill overturned, but does it even matter?

Our most popular article this week was Kevin’s news that a judge overturned Idaho’s “Ag-Gag Bill,” accompanying his decision with a fierce defense of the free speech rights of animal rights’ activists.

Of course, we were thrilled when Glenn Greenwald tweeted a link to our article and gave Shadowproof a shout out:

Except, I noticed several of our readers dismiss the decision because they assumed it would be appealed and overturned.

I asked Kevin what he thought of this reaction:

This has happened with court decisions related to Guantanamo habeas litigation (or detainees challenging their treatment at the military prison). People hear that a judge issues a principled and strong court decision. Then, a bunch of people cynically react. “Oh, it will just be overturned and then eventually wind up in the Supreme Court and then we know what’ll happen next.”

I push back because it is important to recognize victories when they happen. The people most impacted by this ag-gag law in Idaho were very pleased with the judge’s decision. It was very strong, which is why I believe my story got nearly 20,000 views.

The judge did not simply invalidate the law as unconstitutional, but he also validated the argument that this law had been passed by state legislators in service to the dairy industry to protect them from undercover investigations. He defended lies in undercover investigations as something protected by the First Amendment, which was really profound.

He added that if we don’t take time to celebrate wins we risk burning out before we can complete our work.

For myself, I was reminded of a rule we had at Occupy Austin: “Celebrate every victory.” We were often criticized for holding dance parties in the streets or at city hall because we “hadn’t won yet.” But, to me, we were winning just by joyfully and defiantly holding public space.

How many millions is genocide?

From: Thomas
Subject: click bait headline

Message Body:
4 millions Muslims killed in war on terror, so says the clickbait.

Then, the study, says 1.3 million, which COULD be 2.0 million.

My article was titled, “Do The Math: Global War On Terror Has Killed 4 Million Muslims Or More,” so allow me to do the math. The study I cited [PDF] showed that between 1.3 million and 2 million Iraqis died in the second Iraq War. But, as Nafeez Ahmed pointed out, that didn’t include over 200,000 Afghanis, at least 80,000 Pakistanis, or an additional 1.7 million killed by sanctions in the 1990s, between the two Iraq wars. That brings us easily to 4 million.

Besides, when it comes to genocide, it seems rather offensive to quibble about a few hundred thousand lives here or there. Are you really comfortable with what we did in Iraq if it’s “merely” 1.3 million dead?

… And how many of those Muslims were killed by fellow Muslims.

This is like when people ask #BlackLivesMatter protesters, “But what about black on black violence?” First off, many Muslims are working to prevent violence in the region and we should let them work instead of dropping more bombs. And secondly, most of the current violence in the Middle East is our fault — without our interference and deliberate destabilization, ISIS would probably never have existed.

This article was actually the first part of my series on genocide. While Thomas might not enjoy it, the rest of you can find part 2 on our site tomorrow.

On being disabled & teaching all our students

On Tuesday, we had a lengthy discussion of how to provide equal education for all students. It’s hard to choose just one highlight from all the great dialogue we had, but all of us at Shadowproof found Cade DeBois’ response thought-provoking and moving, especially her thoughts on language and disability.

*Just a quick note on my use of language in speaking of disabled people: I do not choose to use “person first” language (such as “people with disabilities”) because as a disabled person, I know my disability permeates everything I experience. I experience this world through being disabled and I see no shame in that. My experience is not inferior nor less-than. I have a complete person and all my experiences being disabled are just as valid as anyone else’s life experiences. Likewise, to say I am a disabled person is, in my opinion, to give a honest, unflinching statement of how I relate to a society that marginalizes, de-value and dehumanize people like myself because of our disabilities. This is important for me as my disability is mostly “invisible” (I have Aspergers, MDD and PTSD) and thus I could, if I wanted, no say anything and “pass” as non-disabled. It is an assertion of myself and all other disabled people, as whole persons with our own distinct and worthy experiences, into spheres of society where our disabled experiences are seen as shortcomings or failures that are too shameful to speak about openly, let alone proudly.

I’m disabled too, with an invisible disability (fibromyalgia), and struggle daily with how much it defines my experience and life. Cade’s words lingered with me all week!

You can’t arrest him just because you don’t like him

Our most popular Community post was this week was a video of police accountability activist Antonio Buehler after his latest arrest. Tom Chandler offered his insight into Austin Police Department treatment of copwatchers:

After watching the videos and reading the police affidavit, I gather Buehler “interfered” by letting the police walk up to him, and then announce they needed to “patrol” right where he was standing?

Austin PD seems to think the law — especially the First Amendment — is only a suggestion. Buehler can be a pain at times, but they don’t get to arrest him simply because they don’t like him — or being videod.

And let’s face it — the APD created Buehler in the first place; they arrested him for taking pictures, and then falsely charged him with spitting in Officer Oborski’s face. Now Austin is a hotbed of copwatching, and the APD still can’t seem to realize the tides are changing. They are the very essence of police operating as if the laws simply do not apply to them.

Wherever you go, from Austin to Denver, it seems like police consider themselves above the law. Fortunately, there are groups like Peaceful Streets Project — and a handful of independent journalists — pushing back.

Protest music: ‘New Kicks’

We’re looking for your suggestions for Kevin’s new Protest Music project. Leave them in the comments here or send us an email!

Here’s one of my personal favorite reader contributions so far, suggested by @UniversalBeatTV:

Le Tigre, “New Kicks”

In conclusion …

We’re aware of issues with our comment counts improperly displaying on our posts (they all say zero comments!) and that old comments are still missing. We’re continuing to resolve these issues.

Please let us know if you find any other bugs on our site.


  • Review our Community Guidelines to understand what Shadowproof expects of our readers, and what you can expect from us.
  • This introduction to our community is a good place to start if you want to know how you can help us make Shadowproof a better, more welcoming place.
  • We welcome your feedback, ideas, links to good music and even silly jokes in the comments below. Also, don’t forget you can Share Anything With Us


Thanks again for a wildly successful first week at Shadowproof. Remember, Brian’s series on privatized prison healthcare continues Monday.

With <3 and Solidarity,

Kit O’Connell
Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and