Sometimes you have to wonder what this world is coming to...
Here's the brief story from Fox News:
Washington, DC - A dance-in at the Jefferson Memorial led to five arrests and a violent clash with U.S. Park Police.
A group was protesting a recent court decision that said expressive dancing is the same as picketing and marching...banned in certain areas of national monuments.
A video the protestors posted on YouTube appears to show officers slamming arrestees to the pavement...using choke holds...punching. A spokesman for Park Police says the agency is investigating complaints officers overreacted.
Meanwhile the protestors say they plan to be back next Saturday at noon.
A couple of weeks ago the DC courts ruled that people are not allowed to dance at the national monuments. As this NBC article says, the DC Court of Appeals said “expressive dancing falls within the spectrum of prohibited activities” and that “the Park Service has a substantial interest in promoting a tranquil environment at our national memorials.”
Can you believe that?
I wonder exactly what movement of what body part meets the criterion for dancing. What if you're just walking funny? Is skipping all right? Maybe skipping is okay unless you're listening to music while you do it.
This week a group of people went to the Jefferson Memorial to dance again. Luckily the criminals were caught on video, being choked and subdued by the courageous policemen who are protecting our rights as Americans.
And while you're enjoying the taste of freedom, here's Bryan Fisher, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, explaining why profanity and blasphemy should be illegal. His reasoning is classic: people (Kobe Bryant, Ed Schultz) get punished for using bad language at work, thus people should be punished for using bad language in their private lives, for instance for taking the Lord's name in vain. I don't see any problem with that logic, do you?
Gil Scott-Heron has died at the age of 62. His later life was tough, you wouldn't want to hold him up as an example of how to live, but there was a moment in 1970 when his vision was so crystal-clear and his voice so solid and stable that he was able to articulate the unlikely mixture of hope and cynicism of a generation with perfect clarity.
You will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip, Skip out for beer during commercials, Because the revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be televised. The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox In 4 parts without commercial interruptions. The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary. The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia. The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal. The revolution will not get rid of the nubs. The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.
There will be no pictures of you and Willie May pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run, or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance. NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32 or report from 29 districts. The revolution will not be televised.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers in the instant replay. There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers in the instant replay. There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process. There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving For just the proper occasion.
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day. The revolution will not be televised.
There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock news and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose. The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth. The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people. You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl. The revolution will not go better with Coke. The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.
The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised. The revolution will be no re-run brothers; The revolution will be live.
EQMD May Be on Its Last Breath, Plus New State Gender Rights Group
Things are changing on the LGBT activist front in Maryland, following the failure of the state legislature to pass two important bills this season.
First, Equality Maryland sounds like they're about to go belly up. They sent out a newsletter this week that said:
Since late 2010, when we assumed our leadership roles on the Board of Directors, we have become increasingly aware of deficiencies in the organization. We realized early on that we had to take action to rectify these problems. At the same time, we were focused on advancing the gender identity anti-discrimination and marriage equality bills, which had their first real opportunity for success in the 2011 General Assembly. We thus attempted to manage the organization's problems through internal controls without making any changes that could undermine the viability of either bill.
As you know, the gender identity and marriage bills did not pass. However, they progressed significantly further than ever before, and are positioned for a successful outcome in the near future. For this, we owe much gratitude to all who made this achievement possible, includ ing Maryland's LGBT community, the staff of Equality Maryland, state and national partner organizations, Maryland's openly gay and lesbian legislators, and all our allied legislators and public officials.
Last month the board of Directors took a step that we had hoped to avoid, but was necessary to restore the organization's integrity and viability - we voted to remove the Executive Director. We took this action with regret, but because our duty as guardians of Equality Maryland compelled it. We also regret that the Executive Director resigned while we were in the process of negotiating an amicable separation.
We subsequently received assistance from the Equality Federation in obtaining an Interim Executive Director who could stabilize and assess the organization. Based on an analysis that revealed certain factors previously unknown to the Board of Directors, we now understand that Equality Maryland's financial status is in worse condition than we had realized.
This was signed by the Board of Directors: Chuck Butler, Patrick Wojahn, Lisa Polyak, Rosemary Nicolosi, Darrell Carrington, David Lublin, and Mark Yost.
You kind of have to wonder how they didn't know they were out of money.
They told Metro Weekly they'll have to shut down at the end of June if they can't raise twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars by then.
It seemed unbelievable when the marriage bill failed to get a vote in the House of Delegates, and all fingers pointed at Equality Maryland, who had taken the lead in orchestrating the campaign. It was a popular bill -- you're reading in the news that a majority of Americans support marriage equality, and Maryland is one of the most liberal states in the country, you can bet the percentage is higher here. This should have been easy, but our courageous Delegates were intimidated by church leaders and letter-writing campaigns from groups like the National Organization for Marriage, and the hopes of thousands of Maryland couples were thrown away.
A gender identity nondiscrimination bill met a similar fate, again under the leadership of Equality Maryland. Our brave leaders in the state Senate successfully avoided controversy and the wrath of the Nutty Ones by playing games with the bill, which would have offered protections in housing, employment and lending to the state's transgender residents.
I don't know what is going on inside the organization, but from the outsider's point of view I'd say EQMD was counting on getting some donations after a couple of legislative victories, and instead they disappointed everybody who counted on them. There was a restructuring of the Board last year, EQMD Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets was fired a month ago, and now the group seems to be without direction, momentum, or community support.
I bet I'm not the only one who wishes Dan Furmansky was still here.
The apparent disintegration of Equality Maryland and the frustration expressed by Maryland's transgender population has resulted in the formation of a new organization, Gender Rights Maryland. The rise of this group is especially timely given the beating of a transgender woman in Baltimore recently, caught on video and seen by thousands.
Metro Weekly has the story:
Activists in Maryland followed up on a statement issued by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on the hate crime indictiment of a suspect involved in a beating of a transgender woman at a McDonald's restaurant by announcing the formation of a new group called Gender Rights Maryland.
According to a press release issued on Wednesday, May 18, Gender Rights Maryland identifies itself as "a new civil rights organization focused on gender identity and expression in the State of Maryland."
"The organization will consist of a 501(c)4 political arm and 501(c)3 foundation. The organization was founded by members of the Maryland transgender community who were active this year in supporting gender identity legislation in Annapolis as well as in previous years. The organization will be formally launched in the coming weeks."
Maryland transgender activist Dana Beyer will serve as the executive director of the organization, while Sharon Brackett is listed as serving as the group's board chair.
"The purpose of Gender Rights Maryland is to promote civil rights, education, tolerance, equality and acceptance on the basis of sex and gender identity/expression in the State of Maryland. Gender Rights Maryland’s initial legislative goal is to see the passage of a comprehensive gender identity anti--discrimination bill by the end of the 2012 legislative session.
GRM is asking the governor to create a commission to study gender identity discrimination in the state as a first step toward introducing and passing legislation to give equal rights to transgender individuals.
At this point all we can do is wish them luck. With the kind of courage and far-sightedness we see in our state legislature, it's going to be a tough battle. But this is the time to line up the forces, dig the trenches, and load up.
I am in love with this headline in the Minnesota Independent:
Family Council asks for ‘respectful debate,’ says gays are pedophiles who engage in bestiality
You want to hear more?
Tom Prichard, president of the the Minnesota Family Council, the main proponent of state Republicans’ anti–gay marriage amendment, told reporters after the bill’s passage on Saturday night that the goal was not to get “personal” and that he hoped that Minnesotans could have a “respectful discussion.” But documents on the group’s website uncovered by bloggers on Monday are dashing those hopes. A legislative handbook put out by the Family Council states that gays and lesbians engage in bestiality and ingest human excrement and claims that a disproportionate number of “homosexuals” are pedophiles.
It's such a big blind spot that you want to laugh, but you can't laugh, because it's not funny. These nuts actually get the attention of the media, in our state they go to Annapolis and frighten our courageous Maryland state legislators, a handful of them intimidated our Montgomery County school district. It's not a joke, but ... you gotta laugh sometimes.
One page of the document focuses on “Informed answers to gay rights questions” and offers this example.
8. “Gay people are not different in their behaviors from other people.”
8a. Homosexual practices are often astonishing to heterosexual people. Homosexuals must use body apertures not constructed for sexual penetration or bring their mouth into contact with areas designed for the elimination of human waste, which causes serious hygienic and health risks. Some homosexuals become urolagniacs (ingesting urine and feces) and engage in bestiality as well as other deviant behaviors.
8d. The homosexual population includes a disproportionate number of pedophiles. Many prominent homosexuals and organization have the stated objective to remove age-of-consent laws from state statutes.
The Family Council does not offer any evidence to back up its claims.
Another section claims that as homosexuality is more accepted there will be more and more homosexuals and that many lesbians “choose” to be lesbians for political reasons.
2. “No one chooses to be a homosexual or can be ‘recruited’ into this lifestyle.”
2a. The social acceptance gay rights laws give to homosexual behavior creates a climate in which opportunities for homosexual behavior multiply. 2b. The more public expressions of homosexuality there are, the more likely one is to experiment with it. 2c. Some homosexuals, especially lesbians, consciously choose a homosexual lifestyle as part of a political agenda.
The manual also assert that even homosexuals think they are not normal.
4. “We are as normal as straight people.”
4a. Experts point out that homosexuality is not normal. Dr. Armand Nicholai, chief psychiatrist of the Medical School at Harvard University, states that homosexuals know at their core that their behavior is not normal.
4b. Accepting homosexuals as “normal” victimizes homosexuals themselves. If a person has a disorder, it is far worse to tell him that he is fine (and encourage him to blame society for problems associated with his disorder) than to point out his problem and offer a means of help.
So good that they can answer our questions.
What about this "Dr. Armand Nicholai, chief psychiatrist of the Medical School at Harvard University," that they are quoting? That sounds like a pretty important authority.
Dr. Nicholi did work at Harvard University. During his time at Harvard, he helped found that Family Research Council along with George Rekers. Rekers found himself at the heart of a scandal when he vacationed last year with a young man who had a profile on RentBoys.com.
Well, really, the headline says it all. There are poisonous people out there. Sometimes it's hard to take them seriously, but sadly you have to. They are only a handful of nuts but their hatred seeps into the consciousness of our society, people who don't take the time to think about the issues hear a phrase or two and accept it uncritically and move on. So you have to constantly fight back.
It's funny, I don't think I have ever heard of anyone doing this. A Canadian couple had a baby and decided to keep its sex a secret. When this reporter visits, the baby is dressed in red. Why would it matter if a tiny person is male or female? The situation is unsettling in a way that makes you think.
Each week the woman asks the same question about the baby with the squishy cheeks and feathery blond hair.
Witterick smiles, opens her arms wide, comments on the sunny spring day, and keeps walking.
She’s used to it. The neighbours know Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising a genderless baby. But they don’t pretend to understand it.
Our language requires us to refer to persons as "him" or "her," "he" or "she." People seem to take offense when you refer to their baby as it -- "So, how often do you change its diapers?" But this couple is encouraging that.
“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.
“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.
Let's see you argue with that!
If there is any squeamishness here it has to do with the idea of using your kid as a social experiment. It's the way we feel about Skinner raising his baby in a box, it just isn't the way we do things. We have some idea that it is super-easy to screw up a kid's head, but in reality they're pretty durable little buggers. You know kids with two sets of moms and dads, for instance, after a divorce; you know kids with siblings that have different fathers from them, kids with one parent, they manage to survive and grow up to be happy, healthy adults. What matters is whether the child is loved. I have the feeling this kid is going to turn out fine.
When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”
Their announcement was met with stony silence. Then the deluge of criticisms began. Not just about Storm, but about how they were parenting their other two children.
The grandparents were supportive, but resented explaining the gender-free baby to friends and co-workers. They worried the children would be ridiculed. Friends said they were imposing their political and ideological values on a newborn. Most of all, people said they were setting their kids up for a life of bullying in a world that can be cruel to outsiders.
Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females. Some say their choice is alienating.
It will definitely be interesting. The other kids on the playground might ask, "Are you a boy or a girl?" and Storm might answer, "I don't know." And then what? And then you fight over who's going down the slide next, or you tag the other kid and run away from them, whatever, it doesn't matter if Storm is a boy or a girl.
I just remembered when my kids were little, there was a girl at school with a gender-neutral name, her parents kept her hair short, she wore jeans and t-shirts, played baseball. She was one of my son's best friends, but he wasn't sure if she was a girl or a boy until about fourth or fifth grade. It just didn't matter.
In an age where helicopter parents hover nervously over their kids micromanaging their lives, and tiger moms ferociously push their progeny to get into Harvard, Stocker, 39, and Witterick, 38, believe kids can make meaningful decisions for themselves from a very early age.
“What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious,” says Stocker.
Man, you don't hear enough of that any more! We used to "go out to play" when I was a kid, your parents kicked you out and you ran around with other kids until they called you in for dinner. Now everything is organized, I don't know if kids would even know how to put together a pickup baseball game without grownups telling them what to do, where to stand, what kind of attitude to have.
Skipping down ...
This past winter, the family took a vacation to Cuba with Witterick’s parents. Since they weren’t fluent in Spanish, they flipped a coin at the airport to decide what to tell people. It landed on heads, so for the next week, everyone who asked was told Storm was a boy. The language changed immediately. “What a big, strong boy,” people said.
This article goes on and on, I suggest you follow the link and see what happens.
Like everybody, I have two minds about this. I think it is all right for people to have a secure social structure with norms, roles, scripts we can follow in uncertain situations. At the same time, the social structure has a tendency to tighten around individuals until they feel forced to behave in ways that are unfulfilling, unrewarding, frustrating, hypocritical, false. The daily routine is simplified through a social framework that makes it unnecessary to profoundly contemplate the implications of every little thing you do. It's all right with me if there is something called "normal," life would be chaotic without it.
On the other hand, it is senseless to force people who do not fit the norm to conform to it anyway. And that would be all of us, at some point in our lives, everybody has some unique characteristics that distinguish them from everybody else -- you don't want to discourage that, it's what makes life fun, it's the source of innovation and creativity, it's cool that people are all different. The norms of a society should act as guidelines, not laws. By definition most people will naturally fall in line with a social norm most of the time, and that's how it ought to be. You don't have to force people to be normal.
People have been wondering if there were any signs predicting the end of the world, maybe something like the appearance of an Antichrist. Media Matters has posted a list of online articles pointing out the possibility that Barack Obama is -- possibly, they're not saying for sure -- just that: the Antichrist.
With the Rapture upon us you might want to do some reading -- you will bang your forehead when your neighbors start ascending to heaven all of a sudden and say to yourself, "Ah! I should have known!"
Note that I am not endorsing any of these authors. I personally feel that it is still entirely possible that President Obama is not the Antichrist. He could be something much more mundane, perhaps a Kenyan Socialist Nazi Muslim terrorist sympathizer, or something like that.
I know someone who works for a company that is not taking orders for work after this Saturday, when good people will be swept up to heaven. The company's employees are not especially taking the whole thing very well, their boss is sure he will have left this world by next week but some of them think they might still need a paycheck after that. I admit I am not the most devoutly religious person in the world, and I am not very well informed about the events that are due to happen on Saturday. Luckily for people like me, the San Francisco Chronicle has published an end-of-the-world factsheet to answer questions about this important event.
The end-of-the-world FAQ sheet
As you probably already know, a worldwide earthquake will strike at 6 p.m. (local time) Saturday, May 21, alerting the human race that Judgment Day has begun. Or so says Family Radio president Harold Camping.
Camping is very certain that the Rapture will occur.
"There's nothing in the Bible that holds a candle to the amount of information to this tremendous truth of the end of the world," he told New York Magazine. "I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question."
Not everyone is as informed about Judgment Day as Camping, of course. With that in mind, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about the End of Days:
Q: Who gets to ascend to heaven? A: Those who accept Christ as the messiah. Even Jews are invited, says Camping, but only if they accept Christ - which would seem to make them no longer Jewish.
Q: How many will be Raptured? A: Campbell estimates 200 million. The remaining nearly 7 billion face a grisly fate - crushed in the quake, burned by sulfur, turned into pillars of salt, etc.
Q: Why May 21? A: Camping calculates May 21 is exactly 7,000 years from the date of the Noah's Ark flood. In his book "Time Has an End," Camping writes. "The year 391 B.C. is the year when the Old Testament was finished, and 2,011 + 391 - 1 = 2,401, or 7 x 7 x 7 x 7." There you have it.
Q: Any other reason? A: Yes. Gay Pride and same-sex marriage. Camping says God will punish America and the rest of the world for Gay Pride and same-sex marriages, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were punished with fire and brimstone in the Old Testament.
Q: Will the Earth end on May 21? A: No. The Earth will stick around for a few more months of "chaos and awful suffering" before being obliterated Oct. 21.
Q: Didn't Camping predict the end of the world would take place in September 1994? A: Yes, but the book in which he made the prediction was titled "1994?". The question mark makes all the difference.
Q: Will the Rapture happen sooner in Australia, like New Year's celebrations? A: Yes. May 21st begins first on Kiritimati Island, a Pacific Ocean atoll, so presumably the earthquake would strike there first.
Q: If I'm Raptured, what will happen to my pets? A: Probably nothing good. However, a business called Eternal Earthbound Pets run by "confirmed atheists" offers to save pets left behind and ensure their care in 26 states. It lists a fee of $135 for a single pet ($20 each for additional pets), but has raised rates due to "increased activity associated with the May 21, 2011 Rapture." Pets are limited to dogs, cats, birds rabbits and small caged mammals in most states. Four states can accommodate horses, camels, llamas and donkeys.
Q: Are exploding watermelons in China a sign? A: Yes.
Maybe it's just me but I find these things incredibly interesting. Dossier Journal is an arts and culture journal, they have poetry, painting, photography, fiction, fashion, recipes, crossword puzzles. I never heard of it before, I'm not much for magazines -- or television, for that matter. It seems to be a relatively successful publication, and you can buy it at the major bookstores.
Recently Dossier had a photograph on the cover of a model who is decidedly androgynous, a man with feminine features and blonde hair done up in a kind of fifties-actress hairdo, curled and perfect. He is topless.
Here is Dossier on the left and some other magazine covers on the right, courtesty of Jezebel.com.
Barnes & Noble and Borders have told Dossier they have to put their magazine in an opaque bag, to cover up the photograph of the male model. They won't display it openly on the shelves.
Isn't that fascinating?
Barnes & Noble recently took an unusual step — the bookstore chain required the magazine Dossier wrap its new issue in opaque plastic before agreeing to stock it. The problem with the cover? Nudity. More specifically, the nude torso of the famously androgynous male model Andrej Pejic. Barnes & Noble was concerned customers would mistake Pejic for a shirtless woman.
Above left is the cover in question; at the right are a few popular magazines whose male cover subjects' bare chests Barnes & Noble apparently did not require to be hidden from sight.
Dossier co-founder and creative director Skye Parrott told me that the directive came as a shock. "We knew that this cover presented a very strong, androgynous image," said Parrott, "and that could make some people uncomfortable. That's partly why we chose it. I guess it has made someone pretty uncomfortable." Added Parrott, "I've been talking to all my friends who work in magazines, and nobody I know has ever heard of anything like this happening. Especially with a guy. Guys are shirtless on magazine covers all the time."
When the message came that Barnes & Noble and Borders, the two largest North American bookstore chains, were requiring the issue be bagged, Parrott says Dossier asked if the stores realized that Pejic is, in fact, a man. The response, relayed via Dossier's distributor, was that the stores were aware of this fact but were still insisting on the opaque covering because "the model is young and it could be deemed as a naked female." Dossier was given the "choice" to accept the opaque wrappers or forfeit the order. (Parrott said her understanding was that the copies that had been destined for the two chain stores would have been destroyed had Dossier not accepted their request.) The opaque covers affect a little less than 10% of Dossier's 20,000 worldwide print run; international chains like the U.K.'s WHSmith, where Dossier is also stocked, apparently do not share Barnes & Noble's and Borders' concern. Barnes & Noble Censors Cover Featuring Androgynous Male Model
What do you think is going on here?
I can only imagine what the booksellers are thinking. My first thought is that some high-blood-pressure board member saw this and freaked, worried about offending people, worried about the reaction from the rightwing community, pictured pickets outside his stores accusing them of selling pornography or promoting the gay agenda or somesuch.
But I think the real problem is that someone is afraid that a heterosexual man is going to see this, and for the fraction of a second before he realizes it is a man and not a flat-chested woman, he may experience a feeling of attraction, maybe even arousal. A straight guy might see the cover across the room and think, ooh-la-la, check that out! Then he will think Oh no, that's a dude, yikes, let me go wash my hands, take a shower, get drunk, purge this terrible flitting moment of inappropriate desire from my memory!
In so much of the discussion over sex and gender topics, the real issue is a fear that men will stop being manly. While our society allows quite a bit of fluidity in female sexuality and gender expression, there is a total lockdown on what is acceptable for men and boys -- see THISPost article from last week on the subject of confining gender stereotypes for boys in school. In the "gay agenda" battlefront of the culture wars, nobody talks about lesbians, it's all about men failing to live up to the expected macho stereotype. In the gender identity discussions, you hear very little argument about women transitioning to a male gender identity, all the concern is about men abandoning the role that has been predefined for them. It seems to me it is time for people to lighten up, give guys a little breathing room, most guys are going to be straight and relatively "masculine" no matter what, there is no need to enforce gender stereotypes. And if they aren't -- so what, it's not contagious!
Maybe you have another explanation for why the big American bookstores won't allow this magazine cover to be displayed on their shelves. Obviously guys' chests are in-bounds, what's up with this one?
Metro Weekly has an update on charges filed in the beating of a transgender woman in Rosedale last month.
The grand jury for Baltimore County indicted Teonna Brown, 18, with five charges on Monday, May 16, including that of a hate crime, for the physical attack on Chrissy Polis, a transgender woman, at the Rosedale, Md., McDonald's on Monday, April 18.
According to information obtained from the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office, Brown was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and a hate crime for the attack on Polis. Brown also was charged with second-degree assault charges regarding Vicki Thoms, who tried to intervene during the attack, and Darrick Jones.
In addition to Brown, the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office states that a female juvenile has been charged in the Juvenile Court with the identical charges as the adult. Both individuals are currently detained. According to the office, no other individuals will be charged "with crimes arising out of this incident."
We will hear squawking from people in our community who don't believe there should be special charges for beating up someone because of the kind of person they are. The point would be that the physical act of beating up someone because of their gender identity is identical to the physical act of beating them up for offending you in some personal way, and extra charges for "thought crimes" are unnecessary. But the government has a responsibility to protect citizens, and in particular, in this country, to protect our rights as individuals. The people who committed this crime intended to use violence to limit the personal freedom of an American citizen because of who she was, and that is a crime that goes beyond simple assault.
Or, if that logic is too abstract, just imagine that someone was dragged and shoved around while onlookers laughed, that they were punched and kicked until they had a seizure because they were Christian, and let's see how eager they will be to invoke hate crime statutes.
This crime was well documented, captured on video, and I don't think it is going to be hard to get a conviction. There is simply no argument that it is all right to beat up a woman for using the ladies room.
The people at Blogger seem to have difficulty with the concept of testing software before you deploy it. For a couple of days there, nobody in the world could post to their Blogger blog, it was impossible to comment, and recent comments that had already been posted were lost.
I heard about the problem before it actually got to us, and copied and saved comments on the most recent posts. Looking this morning, it appears that comments on only one post were actually lost in the "upgrade." It's not pretty but I pasted the lost comments back in a comment under my name.
We are supposed to shrug our shoulders and accept that it's a free service and you get what you pay for.
Thanks to David at Equality Loudon for pointing out this recent article in the New York Times.
A poll from CNN this week is the latest to show a majority of Americans in favor of same-sex marriage, with 51 percent saying that marriages between gay and lesbian couples “should be recognized by the law as valid” and 47 percent opposed.
This is the fourth credible poll in the past eight months to show an outright majority of Americans in favor of gay marriage. That represents quite a lot of progress for supporters of same-sex marriage. Prior to last year, there had been just one survey — a Washington Post poll conducted in April 2009 — to show support for gay marriage as the plurality position, and none had shown it with a majority.
As we noted last August, support for gay marriage seems to have been increasing at an accelerated pace over the past couple of years. Below is an update to the graph from last year’s article, which charts the trend from all available public polls on same-sex marriage going back to 1988.
The trendline — derived through regression smoothing — estimates that about 50 percent of Americans now support gay marriage and that 46 percent are opposed, with a small percentage of voters undecided. By contrast, at this time two years ago, the numbers were 42 percent in favor and 53 percent opposed, according to the same technique. Gay Marriage Opponents Now in Minority
That graph is about as clear as anything you could imagine. One trend falls, another rises, they meet and cross. After thirty years of discussing this issue, most people realize that it makes sense to allow people to marry without having to submit their partnership to government approval.
(It's still too controversial though for our cowardly leaders in the Maryland state legislature, who annually find procedural ways to avoid sending a solid marriage bill to the governor.)
You have to read this piece from the Ms. blog and let it sink in. It is about a line of abstinence underwear. There are cute little panties and undershirts with sayings like "Not tonight" and "Dream on" printed on them.
Annie Shields, the blogger, writes about a web site, www.wwymd.com (stands for "What Would Your Mother Do?"), which has text saying:
Having high schoolers of our own, we realize that at one point or another, teenagers are going to want to date … We’ve decided there’s no reason to get uptight about it, after all, finding a romantic partner is a normal and healthy part of adolescent life. But, why not help our teens make wise choices while they navigate the dating scene? We created a line of underwear to use as conversation starters to help reinforce family morals as they relate to relationships and dating. One part Victorian (who are we kidding?), three parts frisky, these adorable undies put new meaning to saying it loud and proud. New Line of Tween Panties Promotes … Abstinence?
Shields' response is, I think you can say, snarky:
What better way to reinforce family morals than by wearing underwear that doubles as a conversation starter, right? If the junior prom after-party starts to get dull, just take off your pants and encourage a dialogue! Awkward first date? Lift up your dress and ask for some feedback!
On the one hand, these panties were created by parents to encourage their teens to remain abstinent. On the other hand, these are panties. A strange choice of merchandise to hawk in the name of chastity.
It is a good point. It seems that by the time the guy is reading the message, it's too late.
There is a deep inconsistency in the abstinence movement, which is that they are excitedly happy when girls get pregnant. You remember when Bristol Palin was pregnant -- a rational person would have expected that the religious right would use her as a poster child for sexual abstenance, that parents would be telling their daughters, "Don't be like Bristol." But they loved her. They were proud of her and would not allow any criticism of this unwed teenage mother who had obviously not been abstinent. No, oddly, the abstinence people love babies, even when the mother is an unmarried teenager.
This blogger at Ms makes another important point:
What’s more, the panties can really muddy the notion of “consent” in young people’s minds. What if a teen girl wears “Not Tonight” panties and decides at some point in the evening that she actually does want to have sex? Nothing wrong with that, but the dissonance between the panty-message and her ultimate decision may well reinforce the mistaken idea that “no means yes” in her partner’s mind.
I have seen some serious discussions lately regarding the question of consent, and its flip-side, rape. Women are starting to ask why they should be the ones who have to go out in groups and stay away from dark streets and watch how much they drink, why women are blamed for being raped. It's an important question, and it is acutely important for everyone to understand the simple message that only "Yes" means yes, and "No" means no. It may be cute to put sassy sayings on your panties, but if you're showing your boyfriend your panties, you are contradicting the word "No" with your actions.
Here, watch this:
Catchy tune, huh?
One of the commenters asks, where's the guy's "Not tonight" shirt? Good point. The fact is, the boy is just as responsible for their sexuality as the girl is. But somehow we think it makes sense to assign the girl the job of saying no, though her libido is running at full volume the same as his, she's supposed to tell him no even when she feels like yes, and he is supposed to be saying yes yes yes until she gives in. It's twisted. Guys who pressure girls and women for sex are jerks, and girls and women who tease guys by hinting at sexual interactions they have no intention of going through with are not much better. It's a nasty game and we are going to have to take a hard, honest look at ourselves to figure out how to escape the cycle of behaviors that does not ultimately satisfy anybody.
Abstinence-promoting strategies as ineffective as these will certainly prove to be are, unfortunately, not unprecedented. Just last week it was reported that the Candies Foundation paid Bristol Palin more than $260,000 to be a pro-abstinence spokesperson–seven times the amount they spent on actual teen pregnancy prevention programs. With the rise of what’s been called the chastity-industrial complex, peddling purity is big business. Once again, social and religious conservativessay one thing, do another and wait for the money to roll in.
There may have been a time when we lived in an agrarian society and the distribution of labor between "men's work" and "women's work" made some kind of sense. Now it doesn't. Women work beside men, they accomplish all that men accomplish, and the norms that supported agrarian culture simply have no place in urban life in the Information Age. The transition is not being made gracefully, but it must be made. There is a game where we "pretend to pretend" that girls do not have sexual desire and boys do, where the game is to undermine the explicit fiction through frills and flirtation and mixed messages and guys are supposed to think that "Don't. Stop." means "Don't stop." The game is guaranteed to make sure nobody gets what they really want, on one hand it sexualizes every friendship and on the other it freezes the natural sexuality out of romantic relationships where the flow of affection is appropriate. And these panties ain't helping.
There is controversy right now about whether the practice of torture generated information that led to finding bin Laden in Pakistan. The monsters who advocated it in the first place say that informants gave up critical information after being tortured, justifying the use of the techniques.
First of all, the media are starting to call this EIT, the acronym for "enhanced interrogation techniques." I am not going to do that. I am also not going to spell out "enhanced interrogation techniques," because it is a propagandistic euphemism intended to reduce the shame of what our country has done. The correct term is torture. Torture is not enhanced interrogation, it is an act of evil.
There are two degrees to the controversy. The argument in the press is about whether the techniques worked or not. To me, it doesn't matter if torture works, it's just wrong. Pulling out a pistol and robbing little old ladies "works," too, it can be a successful way to acquire wealth, lots of things "work." Causing pain, panic, and hopelessness is not something that civilized people do, it doesn't matter if it works or not.
Fascinating, the religious conservatives who call on moral justifications for their beliefs are the very ones who don't care if torture is moral or not, as long as it works. Real Christians should point to any number of quotes in Scripture and say, we love our enemies, we do not torture them. I'm not seeing that, are you?
After eight years of depravity in the White House, on February 24th, 2009, the new President Obama told a joint session of Congress, "... I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."
Doesn't matter if it works or not, we are proud Americans and we don't torture people.
Now - given that we do have citizens, even some leaders, who have no moral standard when it comes to abusing their fellow man, the question in the air is whether torture worked in this case, that is, whether waterboarding and other techniques led to the information that allowed US investigators to pinpoint bin Laden's location and kill him.
By the way, I have no moral objection to terminating the life of a man who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Normally I'd like to see a trial but I suffer no pangs over the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Amy Goodman interviewed a man on Democracy Now who conducted or supervised over 1,300 interrogations in Iraq. He goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander, and is currently a fellow at UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations. I wish I could copy and paste the whole interview in here but it's pretty long. Let me take pieces of it, quoting him ...
The debate is skewed at this point. And one reason why is because we don’t know all the details, and secondly, because a lot is being left out of the conversation. And let me talk a little bit about that. One of the things that people aren’t talking about is the fact that one of the people that was confronted with this information that bin Laden had a courier is Sheikh al-Libi, who was held in a CIA secret prison and was tortured and who gave his CIA interrogators the name of the courier as being Maulawi Jan. And the CIA chased down that information and found out that person didn’t exist, that al-Libi had lied. And nobody is talking about the fact that al-Libi caused us to waste resources and time by chasing a false lead because he was tortured.
The other thing that’s being left out of this conversation is the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed certainly knew the real name of the courier, whose nom de guerre or nickname was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had to have known his real name or at least how to find him, a location that we might look, but he never gave up that information. And so, what we’re seeing is that waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques, just like professional interrogators have been saying for years, always result in either limited information, false information or no information. Former Military Interrogator Matthew Alexander: Despite GOP Claims, "Immoral" Torture "Slowed Down" Effort to Find Osama bin Laden
Okay, so first point, torture didn't work. It didn't get the names. It wasted years of everybody's time.
Another good point made by Alexander:
... when you look at the use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques in the case of the trail of evidence that leads to Osama bin Laden, what you find is, time and time again, it slows down the chase. In 2003, when we—or '02, when we have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we have the person most likely to be able to lead us to bin Laden, and yet we don't get to him until 2011. You know, by any interrogation standard, eight years is a long time to not get information from people, and that’s probably directly related to the fact that he was waterboarded 183 times.
The other piece of the story that we don’t know yet is we don’t know how the CIA learned the real family name of the courier, who again, his nickname was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. And we don’t know how the CIA got his real family name, which really was the key piece of information that led us to be able to monitor phone calls and emails and discover his first name, his full name, which led to us finding him and then him leading us to the compound. So, until we have that information, which we don’t even know if it came from interrogations or if it came from a source, then we really don’t have a complete picture of how we got to bin Laden.
You can debate it as much as you want to, but we don't really know what happened; so far all you have is opinions.
Okay, here are some reasons not to torture that ought to convince anyone:
My argument is pretty simple, Amy. I don’t torture because it doesn’t work. I don’t torture, because it’s immoral, and it’s against the law, and it’s inconsistent with my oath of office, in which I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States. And it’s also inconsistent with American principles. So, my primary argument against torture is one of morality, not one of efficacy.
And reasons that ought to convince anyone with a heart or a conscience, or intelligence, or belief in God.
You know, if torture did work and we could say it worked 100 percent of the time, I still wouldn’t use it. The U.S. Army Infantry, when it goes out into battle and it faces resistance, it doesn’t come back and ask for the permission to use chemical weapons. I mean, chemical weapons are extremely effective—we could say almost 100 percent effective. And yet, we don’t use them. But we make this—carve out this special space for interrogators and say that, well, they’re different, so they can violate the laws of war if they face obstacles.
And that’s an insult to American interrogators, who are more than capable of defeating our enemies and al-Qaeda in the battle of wits in the interrogation room. And American interrogators have proven this time and time again, from World War II through Vietnam, through Panama, through the First Gulf War.
Torture is against the law and it's not necessary.
Man, this guy is good.
When I was in Iraq, I oversaw the interrogations of foreign fighters. And those foreign fighters, the majority of them, said, time and time again, the reason they had come to Iraq to fight was because of the torture and abuse of detainees at both Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. And this is not my opinion. The Department of Defense tracked these statistics. And they were briefed, every interrogator who arrived there, that torture and abuse was al-Qaeda’s number one recruiting tool.
And remember, these foreign fighters that came to Iraq, they made up 90 percent of the suicide bombers. They killed hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers. And so, this policy of torture and abuse did not make America safer. What it did was it caused the deaths of hundreds or thousands of American soldiers who are now buried at Arlington National Cemetery. So, this policy has been counterproductive in so many ways.
And one thing you’ll never hear the torture supporters talk about, Amy, is the long-term negative consequences of torture. They won’t talk about the fact that al-Qaeda uses it to recruit. They won’t talk about the fact that future Americans are going to be subjected to the same techniques by future enemies using our own actions as justification. They’re not going to talk about the fact that it makes detainees more resistant to interrogations as soon as they walked in the interrogation room, because they see us all as torturers. So they’re not going to talk about all these long-term negative consequences.
That is a very important couple of points. Rational people understand that torturing somebody is the defining act of evil, and good people will sign up to oppose that. Thus it ends up being a recruiting tool for groups like al Qaeda. And further, if we use these techniques then the other side is justified in using them against us -- it endangers our own forces.
I was shocked during the Bush administration to see that they considered torture something that Americans could and should do. I grew up to have pride in my country and to believe in freedom, liberty, justice, and respect for humanity, I never thought I would see the day that we tortured people.
There are lots of good reasons not to torture, and no good reasons to do it. It is too early to determine whether torture resulted in someone giving us information that led to bin Laden, and it will always be impossible to know whether a USA that interrogated its suspects ethically would have found him sooner.
Peter Sprigg is listed as Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, whatever that is, at the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group. He also advises the Montgomery County Public Schools on their sex-ed curriculum.
This study documents an association between an objective measure of the social environment and suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. The social environment appears to confer risk for suicide attempts over and above individual-level risk factors. These results have important implications for the development of policies and interventions to reduce sexual orientation–related disparities in suicide attempts.
Gay and lesbian youth have a suicide rate five times that of straight kids, and this paper shows that living in an anti-gay social environment significantly increases the probability that a young homosexual person will commit suicide. Somehow that is not shocking, and the conclusion is obvious -- if we care about these people we should work to create a social environment that is more accepting.
Oh, did I say obvious? It is not obvious to Peter Sprigg.
He focuses on the fact that the suicide rate for gay teens is still very high, even if you factor out the social variables examined in this study. Now listen to this reasoning:
In any discussion of “sexual orientation,” it is important to remember that this is only an umbrella term for three quite different things—a person’s sexual attractions, the sexual behavior, and their self-identification. In the survey upon which this study was based, there was only a single question on “sexual orientation,” which asked “which of the following best describes you.” The choices were “heterosexual (straight), gay or lesbian, bisexual” or “not sure.” This is essentially a measure of self-identification.
Therefore, the logical take-away from the study would be this: the most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a “positive social environment” for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.Gay Teen Suicide Study Misses the Forest for the Trees
Sprigg is more dangerous than a lot of the other nuts because he sounds like he's making sense.
It is not "important to remember" that sexual orientation is "an umbrella term for three things," because it's not. This is a totally arbitrary breakdown that begins and ends with Sprigg himself. Let's imagine that someone said that "race is an umbrella term for three things -- features such as the color of a person's skin, the person's self-presentational behavior, and their self-identification." I have white skin and Caucasian features, I walk and talk like a white person, I call myself white -- voila, by Sprigg's made-up criteria I'm white. But look, it isn't an umbrella term for three things, it's a thing in itself. If I tried to identify as a black person, I'd still be white. If I walked and talked like a black person, sorry Peter, I'm still white.
I "self-identify" as white because I'm white and I know it. I "self-identify" as heterosexual because I am. I may have misconceptions about myself, for instance I may "self-identify" as tall, but I'd simply be wrong. I am not tall because I "self-identify" as tall, in fact I am a little shorter than the average, I think.
But because Sprigg has "remembered" that sexual orientation is an umbrella term for three things, he can explain what to do about that LGBT teen suicide rate: encourage teens not to "self-identify" as gay.
This is incredible logic. I would laugh if the consequences were not so devastating -- we are talking about teen suicide here:
This study does not provide sufficient data to determine which of the three elements of “sexual orientation” (attractions, behavior, or self-identification) is most closely associated with the highly elevated risk of suicide attempts among “gay or lesbian” teens.
However, there is at least some evidence even in this study that merely self-identifying as “gay,” at least publicly, is in itself a risk factor. Hatzenbuehler, in reviewing previous research on suicide attempts by “LGB” youth, noted “earlier age at disclosure” as a “risk factor . . . associated with suicidality.” In other words, the younger a teen “comes out of the closet” and announces to the world that he or she is homosexual or bisexual, the more likely that teen is to attempt suicide.
Of course the study does not have information about the three elements of quote-sexual-orientation-unquote. Sprigg made them up. You can be pretty sure that someone who "self-identifies" as gay would also report being attracted to members of their own sex. Engaging in "homosexual behaviors" probably correlates with self-reported gay orientation, but 1.many gay youth do not engage in any sexual behaviors at all, and 2.many teens engage in sex-play with same sex others and are not gay or lesbian.
Then Sprigg makes one of his classic leaps of logic. He tells us that there is evidence in this study that mere self-identification is a risk factor. And what is that evidence? The evidence is that teens who come out at a younger age are more likely to commit suicide.
Now there are a million reasons why someone would come out of the closet at a younger age. Some people are more introspective and self-aware than others, for instance. Some people are more honest and open than others, who may conceal their true feelings from others. Even in adulthood, there are gay individuals who set off the gaydar and others who simply don't, and this is true even in a preteen population, there can be kids who will grow up to be gay but don't show any signs of it, even to themselves.
Let's say the reason some people "self-identify" as gay or lesbian at an early age is 1.they realize they are gay and lesbian at an early age, and 2.they are honest enough to share that fact with others. Sprigg's idea that they "self-identify" mistakenly, that if they had not "self-identified" as gay they would possibly have turned out straight, is absurd. If someone did mistakenly "self-identify" as gay, then at some point the evidence of their own attention and arousal patterns will accumulate and they will "self-identify" the other way. "Yeah, weird, I thought I was gay but I was wrong." I have never heard of that, but it would be no big deal if it happened. Certainly I have heard of it the other way, people "self-identifying" as straight and then realizing they are gay. Well, whatever, it's a stupid way to look at it. In the real world, someone's sense of identity is based on facts about himself or herself.
Let's see just how deep Sprigg will dig this hole. His grand finale:
Instead of encouraging homosexuality in the schools, the research would seem to support an alternative approach. It would be to send the following message:
“It is not uncommon for some young people to be confused or uncertain about their sexuality in adolescence. The vast majority of you will end up being exclusively heterosexual as adults. However, if you experience same-sex attractions, or are unsure about your sexual orientation—wait. Do not become sexually active while in school (even if you are sure you are heterosexual). Do not adopt a “sexual minority” identity. Focus on developing your intellect, your character, and non-sexual friendships. When you are an adult, you will be in a much better position to make mature decisions about your sexuality.”
Such an approach would be grounded in what the research shows about the well-being and best interests of children.
Will homosexual activists accept it?
<waves_hand_in_air> I know, I know! Call on me! Yes, Johnny. The answer is no, teacher, homosexual activists will not accept it. Very good, Johnny.
Sprigg blockquotes that one paragraph and puts the text in quotes but if he is quoting from something it is something that Google doesn't know about. I think it is something he himself made up. The bolding is his, too.
The money quote is "Do not adopt a 'sexual minority' identity." The implication of this article is that doing so will put you at risk of committing suicide later, as if "self-identifying" as gay or lesbian is itself a fatal choice.
The other way to say "Do not adopt a 'sexual minority' identity" is this: Lie to yourself and others about who you really are. It's bad advice. It would be very much better to give LGBT teens information about where they can find support, give them information about how to deal with bullies and how to go about normal teenage things like dating and dancing and interacting with potential romantic candidates. There are some resources out there for gay teens but as things are each kid pretty much has to figure it out for himself or herself.
The advice to gay and lesbian teenagers to lie to themselves and their friends about something as important as their sexual orientation is simply bad advice.