Tag Archives: politics

Has Everyone Lost Their Goddamn Minds?

The Anniversary of Roe v. Wade was this week, and with it my attention turns to the legal issues surrounding the fetus. Except that I’m not doing that in the traditional sense this week, I’m doing it in extra special roundabout ways where I feel that my head is turning like the little kid in the Exorcist.

In New Mexico, a bill is pending which would prevent rape victims from getting abortions, otherwise they’ll face jail time for tampering with evidence.

A rape victim should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term because the law thinks it will break the chain of custody in evidence. Rules of Evidence should not apply to the womb.

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime. (Thinkprogress.)

Oh, and did I mention this would carry a 3 year sentence in prison? This would be a felony? Why can’t they simply compel that DNA evidence be taken from every abortion procedure when related to a rape? Isn’t that a better solution – a more humane solution than to compel a woman to remain pregnant after a sexual assault. And how exactly is the pregnancy evidence? Are they going to demand paternity tests on the rapist suspects? Are women going to be forced to have procedures done to prove who the father is? And once it’s done, why would they want to know? I would hope that the state would assist women in adoption procedures if they so wished, but I do not hold high hopes.

It would seem that the conservative end of these debates feels that a fetus is alive only when politically convenient, it would seem that when a woman should carry a pregnancy to term it is only when it is the least reasonable for the woman, and the most “useful” to the state. Does this mean that because she’s pregnant, you’ll believe she was raped? Are we really going back to the “well, women’s bodies know how to shut that sort of thing down” argument, from Fall of 2012? Are we really this incomprehensibly unkind to women in this country? And if we are, how do we stop it?

There is an implicit expectation of privacy built into the Constitution in many places. This right to privacy can be found through the 4th Amendment in our protections against an unreasonable search and seizure. How is this bill in New Mexico NOT a violation of those expectations? This law places pregnancy into the public sphere in a way that no other law would, especially given right to privacy afforded within Roe. We cannot allow women to be placed so publicly into the sphere of debate when they are experiencing what many consider the worst possible act of violence which can happen to a woman. We simply cannot remove these rights of privacy under the guise of “saving evidence”. It is a direct violation of the 4th amendment because this fetus is being unreasonably seized by law enforcement, the government.

Tomorrow in WTF Roe v. Wade Is On The Books Week: Catholic Health Services in Colorado denies that a fetus is a person.

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Filed under Feminism, Sexuality, War On Women

A Giant Step for Women in the Military

The United States Military is placing more faith in their female soldiers today, and allowing them to enter combat positions. A step for equality, yes. While my anti-war sentiments may be in place, I still recognize that this is an important step for women who want to serve their country fully and equally as soldiers.

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January 23, 2013 · 3:26 pm

The DSM is a Medical Text, Not a Plot Generator

I am tired of feeling like every time I see a mental illness article, I need to shield myself from the comments.

I am sick with fear every time I hear “mental health registry”.

I am undone by the lies media tells in their plotlines, using PTSD, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and therapy as plot points, punch lines and things people get over.

We can medicate, we can use therapists and we can find pieces of truth which comfort us in the darkness of our own existences – but this is something we all live with. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not a repetitive joke, it is not the thing which makes a private detective funny. PTSD is not the thing which makes Charlotte King angry and mean, anxiety is not merely fixed with a pill, and therapy should not be the joke of a 30 minute sitcom.

When do we stop using mental illness as a punching bag and start considering ways to help people who live with it?

It seems as though those with mental illnesses are cast into four categories in media: Out of Their Heads Crazy Violent, Nonsensical Crazy,  Functional But Silly Crazy, and Angry Crazy. These all have varying levels. For example, a savant might be in either the functional or in the nonsensical category, whereas often people with PTSD are only cast as angry crazy. schizophrenics are cast as out of their heads and violent. Always, or at least that’s how it feels.

These depictions are wrong.

Mental illnesses are diagnostic tools. They are not all the same.

My experience with PTSD is very different from someone elses’ and my triggers will be different. The way that I express my feelings about the diagnosis which I hold – very different from someone else.

The solutions are different too. For someone who is violent, perhaps medication and time in a hospital setting may help. For that matter, people who have mental health issues which impact their whole lives may need to be hospitalized just so they can get a grip on their own lives – hospitals are not places for just the violent. They are places where people can learn skills they need out in a world which is often harsh on those whose realities are different from the general populations. For someone with PTSD it may be a place to regain control of an episode, and to remember where they are in time.

We don’t need television shows to continue getting it wrong, to keep telling the stories of the mentally ill for us – and telling them badly. We don’t need to have the general public hear stories time after time that PTSD only affects people in the military. We don’t need to have the myths of OCD as funny fill the gaps in where knowledge should be. We should be learning about one another by asking questions, by listening, and by thinking harder than the TV set will encourage us to.

The fact is, mental illness isn’t just about being quirky or different. It is what makes us people. For some of those people, it makes them artists. It makes them see the world in different ways.

I have an ability to understand sorrow, and past pain in a way that some don’t. I have friends whose schizophrenia makes them better writers. Photographers whose stories tell tales of depression – and we wouldn’t know what that looked like were it not for them. Beethoven would not have been the artist he was without his madness and his deafness. Emily Dickinson would not have been the poet we love were it not for her profound agoraphobia. Sometimes these differences are what make us beautiful, and we can’t forget that even though we fear each other.

Perspective is everything – and we cannot forget the beauty inherent in a world of difference.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Language

“They’re Trying to Help a Dead Girl”

The hacking collectivist group Anonymous released a video of the Steubenville football players who took a 16-year-old girl from house to house and sexually assaulted her. They simultaneously posted evidence on twitter, pushing the gang rape into the territory of pure unadulterated public torture.

Anonymous released this video on the same day the House of Representatives refused to vote to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Since when is it not in the best interest of the United States to protect women from violence? I have hope that when the next Congress comes into session we’ll have a different result, but I can’t get the feeling of fear out of my bones over this one.

The young men who are featured in the video of Steubenville are the kind of predators whom the Violence Against Women Act is supposed to protect us from. Sen. Patty Murray (from my state of Washington) put it best:

“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right-wing of their party always comes first.”

There’s absolutely no reason for House Republicans to have done this. Absolutely none. This is an action which is shameful in the eyes of the state.

The actions of the boys in Steubenville may not seem related, but if we don’t expose this kind of behavior as violence, we’re not doing our jobs as a society to protect one another. This young football player is giggling about raping a 16 year old young woman. (Allegedly. Except for the part where there are photos.) This isn’t the only reason the two are linked. Even with VAWA we’re not doing enough.  Like the football team, people who are well-regarded in their communities tend to be above reproach when it comes to the issue of sexual violence. A woman whose husband beats her every night is less likely to be believed, if she reports it, when that husband is a well-respected man. It was the Violence Against Women Act which helped to institute marital rape as a crime in all the states of the Union, as prior to 1994, there were still some states which allowed it.

This kind of violence is unconscionable, and the fact that the GOP will turn its back to violence against women makes me question their privilege. I hope none of them have known women who have suffered at the hands of abusers,  that none of them have had to listen when they heard the story of a friend or family member who was raped or beaten. Because, if they had, surely they would have voted with their conscience rather than with their party.

Yes, the supporters of VAWA  are trying to help a dead girl. They are trying to help a lot of dead girls, all of them who needed help and didn’t receive it. I am sickened today by the notion that there are people in this country who are likely laughing along with the boys from Steubenville – and I hope you’ll reconsider if you cackled at his jokes about Marcellus Wallace and Obi Wan Kenobi, because at the root of those “jokes” is the willingness to condone violence against a person and to use her for her body alone.

We should all be helping to end violence. We should be doing better.

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Filed under Feminism, Politics, War On Women

Happy Wedding Day

Yesterday was the first day that same sex couples could get married in Washington State.

And my home state did me very very proud.

It also has reduced me to a puddle of tears at least 3 times in the last 48 hours. I have been raised by a community – and much of that community was queer, or trans, or gay or lesbian or simply nonconforming.

When I got married this last April, I made a promise to myself that I would not sit in complacency just because I’m married to a man. In November, I voted for gay marriage in Washington.

And today, I can share with you these photos from buzzfeed: Photos 41 & 42 are of people who helped raise me. And I’m proud to be able to share these photos with people.

Raise champagne glasses to toast the world, and listen to a little Etta James in honor of all the couples who got married yesterday, and all those that will get married in the future months.

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Filed under LGBT, Politics

Because The Disabled Vote Doesn’t Matter

“Senate Republicans have thwarted an attempt to pass a U.N. rights treaty aimed at advocating equal rights for disabled people, a strategy that Democrats said is simply centered around scoring political points.” – The National Monitor

I have a really big question for Senate Republicans. Why on earth would rights for disabled people NOT score you political points? Contrary to what many people seem to believe, disabled citizens actually do have the same rights as able-bodied citizens. We vote, just like you do. And we will choose to vote for whomever supports us in the goal of being more equal to our able-bodied peers. Perhaps that doesn’t mean that I’ll ever drive a car, but it does mean that I have hope for the future that this country will become more accessible for us all.

Part of that requires this U.N. Treaty to pass. Which, would be fantastic if it did, apparently even the republican parents of developmentally disabled children cannot foresee a better future without slamming “unelected forces” which would actually make the United States treat their children better than it currently does. Oh, which political person was this?

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, although the parent of a developmentally disabled child, came to Washington, D.C., to lobby against the treaty — claiming it to be an attack on American sovereignty. – The National Monitor

So, not only is he against it because it would stop America from being America, he actually went to D.C. to lobby against it? Seriously, guy? Furthermore, other republicans have stated that this U.N. Treaty would prevent parents of disabled children from making good choices for their children by stopping them from say, homeschooling. RIGHT. The treaty doesn’t have an enforcement mechanism, it’s just there as a set of guidelines! Jon Stewart covered this as his opener for the show last night – and while I felt like a lot of his comments were totally spot on, I was very disappointed that Mr. Stewart only made comments about wheelchairs.  I know wheelchairs are the easy target, but seriously? We could have used some more humor.

“We are disappointed that the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans today blocked the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would enshrine American standards that have been developed through decades of bipartisan cooperation.  Ratification would require no changes to U.S. law, as the United States already leads the world in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities,” said Carney. “However, it would position the United States to support extending across the globe the rights that Americans already enjoy at home. This in turn would improve the lives of Americans with disabilities — including our wounded service members — who wish to live, work, and travel abroad.” – The National Monitor

Well. We sort of lead the world in terms of treatment for people with disabilities. Some of the most compassionate treatment I have received as a disabled woman has been while traveling abroad. In France, I cut lines and didn’t have to pay for entry into any historic places — hell, I even got to touch statues at Versailles because I have a visual impairment. I have felt up things which were once owned by French Royalty. I am okay with this. At the Centre Pompidou in Paris, they even have works of art which have been translated into black and white, and then made into tactile art – in this way, blind and visually impaired patrons can experience artwork by the masters when they couldn’t see it.  In London, I was able to sit in the front row for multiple large-scale productions – and I could bring a companion with me to see the show at half price as well. I could actually afford these ticket prices.  I saw “Equus” I saw many shows at the Globe, I saw “Wicked” for $50, US and I sat in the front row.

I know these seem like small things compared to such issues as ADA accessibility to buildings, or how we access things like parking spots – but the fact of the matter is, if you’ve got a disability you may not be able to access art in the same way your able-bodied peers do.

In the US, I’d love to go see an opera at the Met, or see Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway. But front row seats are over $300 in most places, and are entirely inaccessible to me. They provide concessions for the hearing impaired, but for the visually impaired there is little in the way of accessibility.

The reason why I bring all this up is as follows: If we’re going to be a leader in terms of equality for the disabled, we have to stop patting ourselves on the back. We have to start legislating for what is right, even if it scares the bejeezus out of the republicans. And that starts with signing treaties to protect the rights of the disabled across the globe – by standing with other nations, we are able to confirm that disabled people aren’t just citizens of our own country, but of the world.

The point is, voting down a U.N. Treaty based on a bill which a Republican President signed into law because you’re afraid it’ll cost America its sovereignty is bullshit. The Senate knows better than that. And they knew it.  I’m tired of being told I’m not equal, and that other disabled people around the world are told they aren’t equal more often and more vehemently than I am.

We have to have full and equal access. To public transit (I’m looking at you, New York City and the PATH), to theater (Hi Broadway), to education (AHEM many academic institutions), to politics (TAMMY DUCKWORTH!!), to healthcare (many people with disabilities are denied transplants based on their disability), to housing (Hey, UK. get your head out of your ass), to many many other things.

So here’s the deal. Sign the treaty, and stop using lofty political ideals to block rights for people with disabilities. We can hear you, we can see you, and we can vote you out of office.

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Filed under Disability Issues

So Your Preferred Candidate Lost…

What’s a sad voter to do?

Pick up a new hobby? Find a new political cause you care about? Call your mom?

… Oh. I see. Okay.

You’re going to start a petition to secede from the United States of America. Gotcha. That’s… uhm…. Unreasonable.

Yes. Secession. So very 1860.

In fact, this has almost become a fad. Now it’s not just the dissolution of states from the union that make sense, but those who really don’t. From looking at the We the People Petition Site the following states have filed petitions to “peacefully secede” or “secede” from the United States. A parenthetical indicates the number of times the petition has been put into the system: Commonwealth of Virginia (x2), Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Illinois, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Idaho, Georgia (x3), Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Utah (x2), Ohio (x2), South Dakota, West Virginia, Nebraska, Pennsylvania (x2), Kansas, Oklahoma (x2), Wyoming, California, New York (x2), Delaware, Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina (x2), Missouri (x2), Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Washington.

Alaska and Oregon asked for a vote to be put to all state citizens on if they should secede or not.

45 states out of 50 have petitions filed on their behalf with regard to secession. And one city: Austin Texas would like to remain part of the United States. Because apparently Austin is cool like that.

There’s a popularized myth that Texas has the right to secede from the Union as according to their state constitution – they do not. But their website about secession has a lot of answers (from their perspective). In their case at least, this isn’t just a pouty faced outcry, but actually well thought out reasoning for why they want to leave the United States.

But why are people putting petitions to the White House about secession? Well. I’ll tell you, but it’s not pretty. It’s because we re-elected an African-American President. It’s because it turns out that the country isn’t as conservative and intolerant as many people would like to believe. We are a country populated by differences, and that is showing in this last election. They’re angry because they didn’t win.

So instead of acting like adults, who live in a country that they would have supported had their candidate won, they’re taking the temper tantrum route. They’re throwing a fit because they feel entitled to do so. Fortunately for them, unlike the one petition on the site requests, we won’t deport them for suggestions of secession. Look, we on the left did it too. We threatened to move to Canada (actually, I threatened to move to Europe, but it’s the same thing.) It’s a jerky thing to do, and we should all stop it.

But I’d like to point this difference between the Left and the Right out: The only other time that there has been a secession from this country, has been over race too. Apparently what really pushes people over the edge here isn’t about the choices a President makes, but his actions or affiliations with regard to race. My hope is that no one is stupid enough to throw a John Wilkes Booth-ian tantrum.

The White House has said that they will respond to the petitions which do reach the regularly required number of signatures (Which Texas and Alabama have.) No idea when, or what it will say. But given that the Governor of Alabama doesn’t support secession of his own state, I think it’s likely that the White House will tell them (very politely) to go sit in a corner and think about what they’ve done.

Go read a book. Go drink some whiskey. Volunteer at your school or church, or with the government. Make a difference. But don’t pitch fits about leaving the country when you know that our history still shows the battle scars of the Civil War, and seriously – don’t do it because our President has a different skin color than you. Plain and simple: That’s overblown bullshit racism.

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