Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies – Weekend Edition, 5.31

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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12 Comments

  1. Used panties to Burma. This has to be the single best example of surrealistic protest I have ever heard of. Does Burma have an embassy in America? I don’t think it would take much to convince my wife to donate some of her old panties to such a good cause. I wonder if it would be even more emasculating if I sent a picture of Steph wearing the panties along with the panties. This would prove that they were touching panties that had touched a woman’s naught bits.

  2. Gabriel – I updated the post with a direct link to the Panties for Peace website. Details on sending them are there, if you’re really interested. :)

    Also – I do know that the US does not officially recognize the new regime of Myanmar, so no embassy. The UK is the same way.

  3. Sending used knickers to Burma is not only pointless but also cruel. The Burmese people are starving, have little or no clean water or medical supplies thanks to the cyclone (think Katrina hitting a third world country, which is what happened)

    It is contemptable to think that now is the time to send thousands of soiled underclothes there in some kind of sick protest.

    “Hey, you guys are up sh*t creek without a paddle and to show how much I feel your pain I’m sending a general my used panties. I know I could have given a couple of quid, donated a blanket or a food parcel to keep you alive a few days longer, but I think used knickers is the best I can do.”

    It is as useless, insulting and degrading as me sending my used socks to GW Bush to ‘help’ victims of Katrina.

  4. Russell, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the only action anyone should take is sending a pair of panties to Burma. The point of a campaign like this is to get a lot of media attention in affluent countries so that the crisis in Burma stays in the headlines and in people’s minds. An offbeat story like this might reach people who otherwise don’t really think about Burma. Awareness is the first step. And if you honestly care enough to go to the trouble to send panties to Burma, chances are you will also go to the trouble of donating money online to a worthy charity (which is actually much easier). If there are people out there who care more about sending panties than aid, then shame on them – but I’m not one of them, and I don’t think anyone who supports this awareness campaign necessarily is.

  5. Russell,
    The biggest problem is the military junta that rules burma. They are standing in the way of aid. They have been seizing it and keeping it for themselves. It hasn’t been getting to the people who need it. What is a regular person supposed to do in this situation? A traditional donation will, in all probability, be stoen by the people in power and the victims are screwed. At least the panties are a way to add a small measure of unpleasantness to the lives of the powerful. It is a symptom of how people feel. They want to help but don’t know how.

  6. I agree that the Junta are a gang of b*st*rds who are standing in the way of help reaching the worst effected areas and reluctant to recieve direct aid from “The West”.

    The BBC news website has said however they are accepting aid from their usual trading partners Thailand, India, Bangladesh et al and aid is being sent via those countries to Burma. So giving to those charities that have experience of dealing with Burma is the best thing to do.

    I am also certain that any aid arriving will be creamed off by the reigme and only once their “needs” have been taken care of will the people get anything. However, a small amount of something is better than 100% of nothing. If you had to choose between certain starvation and Than Shwe’s left overs what would you pick.

    Rational thinking would surely lead to the conclusion that survival of the greatest number of people is to be preferred to making “a statement”. It is more than likely in order to prevent a catastrophy becoming a travesty the reigme will have to be assured of its status, in order for even a small amount of aid to reach the populus. I.e. reigme change will have to wait until after dinner because otherwise there’ll be no one left alive to appriciate the great linen sacrifice made by the west.

    I doubt the last thoughts of the starving are “I may be starving, but at least the junta were in no way aided either. In fact I can go to my grave safe in the knowledge they were slightly perturbed by some knickers and that added some unpleasantness to their lives, a bit like my losing my family, my home and, now, starving to death. Who needs bread anyway?”

    The fact remains, lunch is more important than liberty. Only someone who’s never missed lunch could possibly think otherwise.

  7. Russell,

    I must be doing a very poor job of explaining my thoughts on this so I will try again. I do not advocate sending panties and then stopping. If someone can find a charity that has a realistic chance of getting aid to the people who are suffering and dying then by all means give to it. Don’t just send some panties and pat yourself on the back for the great blow for freedom you just struck. However giving to a charity doesn’t preclude you from trying to discomfort the powerful. Both things can be done. Yes the military junta is accepting aid from many places. But, from what I have read in the media it would appear that this aid doesn’t get to the people. They are still getting 100% of nothing. The absolute horror of the situation had some countries suggesting that an invasion force, war, would be neccesary to get aid to the people. This is a terrible situation. This tragedy will be awful in its size and avoidablity when the final tally in suffering and death is known. I do not know if your last comment was directed at me or was a general comment. However I was homeless for a very short period. I have missed a lot of meals and eaten from a couple of dumpsters. I understand the importance of a meal.

  8. Gabriel,
    No, it wasnt an attack on you personally but a general statement. I apologize if you took offence, it was not my intention.

    I agree with you that the “Bomb them with aid” scenario would be a disaster. The generals have to be convinced that helping the people would be in their own best interests.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to the knickers thing in either “normal” circumstances or if, say, Aung san suu kyi asked the world to concentrate its efforts on doing that.

    I find that the pragmatism of feeding the starving even if it means doing deals with the likes of Than Shwe (or having him claim that the aid you gave came from him), outweighs my idealism of doing away with a despicable reigme. At least in the short term.

    When the smoke clears I suspect that the failures of the burmese military to deal with cyclone nargis will leave them vulernable to another uprising, such as the one last year. Then my underpants will be winging their way to Than Shwe

  9. Russell,
    I didn’t take offense. It is just that I have been poor most of my life. (By American standards.) And I understand what hunger is. I want those people to get aid. I also want those evil bastards to be screwed with and I don’t know another way to screw with them. I truly apreciate the civil tone of our exchange. Thank you.

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