Inauguration Day Leaves Town Hall Petulant

Can someone tell me what this means?

Star Parker, writing for the extremely sullen Townhall at inauguration time:

…[F]ew seem to appreciate that moral problems lie at the root of our faltering economy.

Sanctity of life and sanctity of property are cut from the same cloth of eternal law.

In the view of many, including me, it’s this law that defines our free country.

Our new president, who sanctions both abortion and massive government intrusion into our economic lives, sees things very differently.

What does this mean? Anyone? What is this cloth of the eternal law? I get the feeling this is some coded reference to an ideal Theocratic States of America that exists in Parker’s head. What evidence do we have that Parker’s mystical (invisible?) eternal law is the true law of of this country? ‘Cause I got plenty of evidence that the true laws of this country are in the Constitution and written in our federal and state codes.

And what the hell is the equation between “sanctity of life” and “sanctity of property”? Is my record collection worth lives? How many, one per record? Why are fetuses involved in this petulant tantrum?

Perhaps I could cut an eternal dress from the eternal cloth, which probably has a print pattern of fetuses and private jets. Then I would wear it in honor of every time Big Government intrudes on my life with abuses of my freedom like product safety standards and refusing to allow people to deny me jobs based on my race, religion or sexuality.

Do conservatives really think that fetuses and personal property like cars and golf clubs are similarly valuable, and similarly under attack by Obama? Somehow, I doubt “many” actually subscribe to Parker’s worldview. But it is fun to speculate. However, is it not true that for some, conservatism is about returning to tradition, i.e. resisting change? I guess that makes it a hard pill to swallow indeed, to be conservative upon inauguration of a president who ran on “change.”


What the Different Owe to the Normal

Blogger Shiva made a thought-provoking comment in a discussion on Bird of Paradox:

it seems to basically say “oppressed/marginalised people can be treated as property” (to be “borrowed”, something must be “owned”), and simultaneously that an explanation of difference is something that the “normal” have a right to demand at will from the “different” (a term commonly used in the autistic liberation movement is “self-narrating zoo exhibit”).

Thanks to Questioning Transphobia for drawing my attention to this discussion. Go over to Bird of Paradox for the original context, or Questioning Transphobia for additional ruminations from a specifically trans angle.

I find the phrase “self-narrating zoo exhibit” both powerful and useful. Many of us who have, shall we say, non-mainstream identities, whether identities as queer, trans, Muslim, disabled, Native, Jewish any combo thereof and etc, know exactly what this phrase means.

We know what it feels like for others with some sort of privilege we lack to expect, nay demand explanations for our very personhood, or our right to membership in humanity.

When I worked with the refugee community, I fielded a lot of requests from grad students who wanted to interview refugees for their theses. Their plan:

1. The refugee service agency gives them the private contact information of their clients.
2. They set up interviews with these clients to compel them to relive some of the most horrific moments of their lives.
3. Grad student success! They write up a compelling, moving theses, get published, and land an amazing position at a prestigious university.

What’s missing here? Oh yeah, the fact that refugees are PEOPLE, not exhibits to be researched. Not only that, but the recently-arrived refugees who my agency worked with were in incredibly vulnerable situations. New to the country, little or no English ability, few financial resources, survivors of unimaginable trauma, often suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues. Did the grad students really think we’d just give out their contact info and let them milk refugees for all the juicy details of how they watched their fathers die, their mothers get raped, their houses burned?

What were the refugees supposed to get out of this little exchange? Oh, nothing. The students never even gave a second thought about that, they just assumed the refugees would be honored to get attention from them. The students never considered volunteering, developing real relationships and trust, donations of any kind. It was to be a one-way transaction for them, and the understaffed, underfunded service agency was to facilitate it, and the refugees themselves were TO LIKE IT, GODDAMN IT!

America was giving them shelter, so the refugees should be expected to explain themselves. Again. And again. And by themselves, we all know that we mean: the juicy violent horrible stuff, not their personalities and their likes and dislikes.

Whew, sorry, the anger is coming back. Well, belately I now know what I would have said to those annoying grad students. Refugees are not your self-narrating zoo exhibits, bitches! So shove your thesis where the sun don’t shine!

What? Words Have Meaning?

I didn’t see this in any American newspapers, but maybe I missed it. The U.K. newspaper the Telegraph recently published this story: “Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama”.

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of “palling around with terrorists”, citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling “terrorist” and “kill him” until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks.

Michelle Obama, the future First Lady, was so upset that she turned to her friend and campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett and said: “Why would they try to make people hate us?”

…Details of the spike in threats to Mr Obama come as a report last week by security and intelligence analysts Stratfor, warned that he is a high risk target for racist gunmen. It concluded: “Two plots to assassinate Obama were broken up during the campaign season, and several more remain under investigation. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues.”

So you whip people up into a racial, murderous frenzy with your thinly coded rhetoric, and then tried to claim ignorance to your own actions and their affects? Did I get that right Sarah?

Then McCain defended the sector of his and Palin’s supporters who tended towards racial bigotry and death threats: “McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers adds in another statement: “Barack Obama’s attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about.” ”

Issues like lynch mobs, death threats, lone gunmen, racial hatred. You know, things that regular people care about. If we define “regular people” as “whites with racial grudges,” which Palin and McCain do.

The take-home lesson here is: words have meaning. When you get up on a public stage and say things to large groups of people who admire you, the words you chose are important. Using ‘codes’ to get across a hateful message doesn’t count. It’s clear that your fans will understand both the meaning of the code and the reason you had to use code and not plainspeak. Your words have meaning, and when you give people all the puzzle pieces on your public stage, can you really be surprised when someone assembles the puzzle? And when I say “assemble the puzzle,” what I mean is “plot to kill the president.”

I’m sure this is all a huge shocker to Palin. I’m sure she’s all like “What? My words encouraged several people to plot to murder another person, who just happens to be my political rival? Well, I’m sure I had no idea!”

God Did Not Send You to My Bedroom

Reverend Al Sharpton’s January 11th speech at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta for the launch of the Alliance of Affirming Faith-Based Organizations.

“It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when the they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being delegated into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners.

There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people’s bedrooms and claim that God sent you.

I am tired of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they’re preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade.

We know you’re not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you. We would have heard from you when people were starving in California, when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there you had nothing to say. … But all of a sudden when Proposition 8 came out you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we gonna step in the rain with you.”

Via Kenyon Farrow.

Oscar Grant’s Killer Arrested! (And Charged with Murder)

Holy…! It happened! I was growing concerned that this issue wouldn’t be taken seriously, but it seems as though it has, thanks to protesters, media coverage, and my fellow bloggers! Read this post to catch up on the story if you haven’t been following it.

The police officer who shot Mr. Grant while he was lying face down on the ground was apprehended in Nevada and arrested on suspicion of murder.

From the San Francisco Chronicle via Pam’s House Blend:

[Johannes] Mehserle was arrested in the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight. An Alameda County judge signed an arrest warrant alleging murder, and Mehserle surrendered without incident, authorities said.

…Mehserle declined to speak to BART criminal investigators after the shooting. Then last Wednesday he resigned rather than answer questions from BART’s internal affairs division.

Also from the article: “Some Oakland community leaders and civil rights activists said the case is symbolic of larger problems with police officers using excessive force on young black men. Grant was black and Mehserle is white.”

Oh really? Let’s look at some other incidents that also occurred on New Years Day.

The curious case of Adolf Grimes:

A young, black man in New Orleans is dead, slain by police officers on New Year’s Day, in an incident that has outraged a community and triggered protests over what family members are calling a “murder.”

Read more details about the murder of Adolf Grimes at CNN.

And the shooting of Robbie Tolan:

The family of a young black Texas man who was shot in his own driveway by a white police officer believes that racial profiling was the cause and are asking for criminal charges to be filed against the officer.

According to family members, Robbie Tolan and his cousin were returning to Tolan’s home in the mostly white Houston suburb of Bellaire in the early hours of December 31, when they were approached by officers who suspected the SUV they had just gotten out of was stolen.

Tolan’s parents, who own the SUV, came out of the house to explain the situation. An altercation ensued and Tolan’s mother was thrown against the garage door by an officer. According to Tolan’s uncle, “Her son was on his back at the time, and he raised up and asked, ‘What are you doing to my mom?’ and the officer shot him — while he was on the ground.”

The CNN story.

Systematic problem? Naaaaaah. /snark


Unless new evidence surfaces during Mehserle’s trial, [Alameda County District Attorney Tom] Orloff said, it is being treated as a homicide. “Murder charges were filed because at this point, what I feel the evidence indicates is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act, and from the evidence we have, there’s nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder.”

All Your Children Are Belong To Us

RH Reality Check posted an eye-opening article recently on international adoption, The Lie We Love. Harsh, right?

The article discusses how a combo deal of lots of Western ca$h from potential adoptive parents plus huge demand plus corrupt officials can equal a really scary adoption scene where baby-selling and baby-stealing can and do occur. Not every time. But enough times to warrant a really serious look at international adoptions and lots of caution.

That alone is a great subject for more discussion, but what intrigued me were the comments from readers after the article. A good deal of people who had been involved in international adoptions posted their thoughts. For many of the commentors, these thoughts were along the lines of: “Poor third-world women (of color) can’t be fit mothers, therefore we (white) Westerners have the right to take their children away.” My interpretation, obviously. Read the comments yourself to see what I’m talking about. One woman goes so far to say that a third-world woman who already has several children may choose to have yet another to “sell” to Westerners, and that it is acceptable for Westerners to “purchase” this child because then they are helping the whole family!

Naturally, these are troubling attitudes for me to read, coming from actual adoptive parents. I believe that a fundamental human right is the right to bear and raise one’s children. Does the desire to adopt internationally, if strong enough, trump the birth mother’s right to keep her children? Does a family’s poverty make them unfit parents? Does a lifestyle significantly different than white Western lifestyles make a third-world family unfit to raise their own children? I say no.

True concern for these mothers, families and children would look different to me. It would look like working in solidarity with poor mothers (and fathers when present) to change their conditions so that they can raise their own children instead of abandon them or adopt them out, or sell them or prostitute them. It would mean acknowledging the troubling intersections of privilege and oppression that lead so many of these international adoption situations to be fraught with ethical murkiness. It would mean not classifying a middle-class white American (or Western) childhood as categorically superior to the childhood available in poor “third-world” families of color.

I believe that women in China, Guatemala and other countries that have or have had significant international adoption programs deserve choice. They deserve the same choices as Western women: to have or not have children. To space their births. To keep the children they do choose to birth. To raise the children they give birth to. To have governments that support their choices in real ways.

These are all basic human rights. Can we please recenter the international adoption debate around the human rights of the families that the adoptees come from? Because if we could be certain that the human rights of the birth parents were being respected, a lot of the ethical problems we’re seeing would evaporate. We could be certain that a woman got pregnant accidentally, chose to give birth, and then freely chose adoption. Unless the pregnancy was unplanned, and birth and adoption were freely chosen (and not compelled by poverty and a lack of access to birth control and abortion), can we be sure that everyone’s human rights were respected and the adoption is not surrounded by ethical problems.

BTW, I am not opposed to all international adoption. I do not hate on adoptive parents, or internationally adopted children. As a matter of fact, my own family contains several adopted members, including internationally-adopted members. I am just asking some tough questions so that we can find ways to eliminate problems with our current system of international adoption, and some of the problematic ways of thinking that surround it.

Comments? (Remember, comments containing personal insults will not be published.)

If the reference in my title is too nerdy for you, find out what I mean here.

A related post I wrote on Trans-Racial Adoption.

UPDATE 2/15/09: Welcome those of you coming over from Tell It WOC Speak. Please feel free to leave your thoughts!

Macho Christ

Mars Hill

The New York Times has a big story on the Mars Hill church in Seattle, led by fiery hipster pastor Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is a born-again evangelical who got way into Calvinism. Apparently, he has struck upon a method to draw crowds of nontraditional Christians in secular Seattle: by painting an image of a Macho Christ!

New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

…God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

…Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.”

How cutting-edge! A Christian leader who mocks women and gay people. I love how Driscoll puts down other brands of Christianity by hinting that they are effeminate and queer. Nice one! *High fives Driscoll*

What does this remind me of? Oh yeah, the taunts of a schoolyard bully.

The only reason I can see that the NYT is painting this as something “new” is that the church attendees have tattoos and dyed hair. Or did I miss something profound?

Fair Pay Act May Make Comeback

Hallelujah! More good news. If this is a sign of what’s to come after January 20th, I am overjoyed.

AP: “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult to sue over past pay discrimination.”

Remember when that happened? Lilly Ledbetter had worked for Goodyear Tires for nearly 20 years, only discovering near the end of her career that though her performance had been acceptable, male employees had been payed more for the same job for her entire career. The Supreme Court, showing deep concern for her brazen attack upon the patriarchy, claimed that she would have had to file suit within 180 days of receiving her first lesser paycheck, back in the 70s.

Naturally, my girl Ruth Ginsberg dissented. Text of the majority opinion and the dissent.

Compensation disparities … are often hidden from sight. It is not unusual, decisions in point illustrate, for management to decline to publish employee pay levels, or for employees to keep private their own salaries.

…[T]he discrimination of which Ledbetter complained is not long past. As she alleged … Goodyear continued to treat Ledbetter differently because of sex each pay period, with mounting harm.

…[W]hen a woman is paid less than a similarly situated man, the employer reduces its costs each time the pay differential is implemented. … Disparate pay … can be remedied at any time solely at the expense of the employer who acts in a discriminatory fashion.

But Goodyear decided to maintain its discriminatory pay for 20 years and then defended that discrimination in court. And won. In front of 9 judges, 8 of whom were men. The single female judge, Ginsberg dissented.

The 5 male judges who made up the majority insisted in their opinion that it was necessary to deny Ledbetter’s claim. Why? To protect employers who choose to discriminate against workers based on sex, race or other factors, and then manage to hide that until the 180 days have passed.

Unassailable logic.

Because if you count each smaller paycheck as an instance of discrimination, instead of the single decision years in the past to start paying women (or Mexicans, or gays, whoever) less, then, well, the proles who got discriminated against are going to start getting ideas! Like that discrimination is wrong, that companies profit off it, and that they should get paid back!

Silly proletariat.

Well, Alito et al may be pissed, because it looks like Congress is getting pretty serious about this Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Nancy Pelosi: “Equal pay is an issue of fundamental fairness, but as families grapple with difficult economic times, equal pay for equal work is often about daily survival for millions of families.”

The Republican response, from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN: “[The Act is] little more than an earmark for the trial bar.”

Oh no! Companies being held responsible for illegal discrimination! The horror!

It passed the House, but isn’t law yet, so more quotes about uppity women and blacks demanding equal pay are sure to emanate from Republicans in the meantime. But the bill’s chances are looking good.

h/t Chloë

Just for Immigrants: New Domestic Violence Hotline

Some good news! Somehow, the city of Seattle is funding a new domestic violence hotline aimed at getting help to immigrants and refugees. There will be 14 language options!

From the Seattle P-I:

Seattle is the first city in the nation to set up a toll-free number to connect immigrant and refugee domestic-violence victims to a social worker of their language and culture.

The help line, announced Wednesday, is called the “Peace in the Home” line.

…Domestic violence can be a big problem among immigrants, said Someireh Amirfaiz, the director of Refugee Women’s Alliance.

…Of roughly 600,000 Seattle residents, about 100,000 were born outside the United States, according to the mayor’s office.

The line will offer help in 14 languages: Amarinya or Amharic, Japanese, Khmer, Lao, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tigrigna, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Cool. The number is 888-847-7205. Remember, this is for the Seattle area only.

“Poor People Are Not Poor Because They Lack Money”

Nationally syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham on October 23rd, 2008: “The reason people are poor in America is not because they lack money, it’s because poor people in America lack values, character, and the ability to work hard.”

Nationally syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham on October 27th, 2008: “Among the so-called noble poor in America … [b]irth control is not used so illegitimate children can be brought into the world, so the mom can get more checks in the mail from the government. And then once the child is born, that is the key to financial riches in the poor communities — white and black — in America.”

Nationally syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham on December 4th, 2008: “[W]e’re about the only country in the world with fat poor people . . . the poor community, so to speak … have cell phones, they have pagers, they have telephones, they have cars, they have HDTV, and they have those things because they spend no money on food, because it’s all given to them for nothing . . . Why would a grocery store open in the poor community when everyone gets fed free and they eat too much?”

Nationally syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham on January 4th: “[P]oor people were not and are not poor because they lack money. They’re poor because they lack values, ethics, and morals . . . All that the mid-’60s and ’70s did to the black community was to pay black fathers money on condition that they not be involved in the lives of their children and that black mothers were told that if you married, it would have a painful consequence. If, on the other hand, you acted irresponsibly by producing children out of wedlock, you would have a positive consequence, because government would fund bad behavior.”

Why, gee Bill, ya got quite a chip on your shoulder against low-income people. How is it that you know so much about a category of people that you know absolutely nothing about?

Via Media Matters.

Czechs Take Over EU Presidency

Yes, it is my people’s day. Or six months, rather. Starting January 1, 2009 the Czech prime minister is also the leader of the European Union for the first time. Heads of government of the EU countries take six-month turns at the EU Presidency.

Mirek Topolánek is the current Czech PM. He’s conservative and leads a weak government and is battling calls to resign. It seems he is overshadowed by his political opponent, Czech President Václav Klaus, who’s personality is so large that several publications misstated that it was Klaus and not Topolánek who would lead the Czech EU Presidency.

Klaus is likely to make this a rough presidency: he is a global warming denier and has said that environmentalism is a threat as grave as communism, so he’s a little out of step with the EU’s environmental policy. He calls himself a “Euro-dissident” who is against the Lisbon Treaty, which, among other things, would make the Charter of Fundamental Rights (55 human rights for EU citizens) legally binding throughout the whole EU. Somehow, probably with Klaus’s help, the Czech Republic has managed not to join the Eurozone.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Klaus is at loggerheads with the Prime Minister Topolanek, who is barely holding onto power thanks to a break some Klaus loyalists have made inside the coalition government. For months, the pro-Europe Topolanek has faced calls to resign.

“Traditionally the European Union presidency has a stabilizing effect,” Mr. Techau says. “But the domestic situation in the Czech Republic is so contentious and unpredictable, it’s really a question whether the government can hold. This could undermine the Czech presidency.”

Get your shit together, people! Come on Czech Republic, this is your moment to shine! Don’t fuck this up.

What they hope to accomplish in the next six months:

-Ensuring energy security
-Using research and development along with small/medium business enterprise to increase Europe’s competitiveness
-“Eastern neighborhood initiative” to bring Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova closer to the EU

Ambitious, yet not.

A Message from Mirek Topolánek:

The motto of the Czech Presidency, “Europe without Barriers”, reflects the four basic freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, workers, and services. We intend to uphold these freedoms to their fullest. The logo of the Czech Presidency, i.e. the website, adds a symbolic fifth freedom: free movement of information and knowledge. The main priorities of the Czech Presidency can be summed up as “the 3 E’s”: Economy, Energy and External Relations.”

Well, Mr. Topolánek strikes upon something that is of great importance to me: the freedom of movement of workers, or as I like to call them, people. That is one of the supposed benefits of true capitalism that we see almost no allegedly “capitalist” or “free market” society actually implement. If we implemented freedom of movement of people in the US, we’d solve illegal immigration with the swoop of a pen! Of course, Topolánek is referring to movement only within the EU, but it’s a start.

The English version of the Czech EU Presidency website is here.

Anti-Gay Terrorism in Seattle

Holy crap!

From the Seattle Times:

Eleven gay bars in Seattle were sent letters Tuesday threatening ricin attacks — in what some are describing as a hate crime.

The anonymous letters say, “I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients. … I expect them to die painfully while in hospital.”

A 12th letter was sent to the alternative weekly The Stranger, according to its Web site. That letter says the paper should be “prepared to announce the deaths of approximately 55 individuals.”

The letter lists the bars as: The Elite, Neighbours, The Wildrose Bar, The Cuff, Purr, The Seattle Eagle, R Place, Re-bar, C.C.Attle’s, Madison Pub and The Crescent. The letter implies the attacks will take place one Saturday this month.

In a statement, the Seattle Police Department said it takes the threat seriously. It has seized the letters and is processing them and is coordinating efforts with the FBI and other federal agencies.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans that can be deadly if purified and then ingested or inhaled.

Via PortlyDyke at Shakesville, who commented:

See, it doesn’t matter who sent the letters — this is terrorism, pure and simple — and it is terrorism targeted at a specific oppressed population, which is, by definition, a fucking hate crime.

…I was trying to imagine, though, what the response would have been if the same letter were received by, say, eleven churches of a specific denomination. I’m guessing the members of that community would not be saying things like: “Well, we get a death threat a day”, or “well, whatever”, and I’m guessing that next Sunday, there would be a strong police presence in the neighborhood of each of those churches.

I wonder how Changes managed to escape the hit list. Oh crap, I just tipped off the poisoner! But for real, all the bars are clustered on Capitol Hill, so it appears our poisoner hopes to just make some quick rounds all in one night? Zie appears to be acting alone, so perhaps that is why zie has a geographically-restricted hit list, and Changes may be safe because it is in a whole different part of town. Just idle speculation.

As a former resident of Seattle, I have personally patronized a number of the threatened establishments, as do my friends who still live there. Good to know we have no reason to stop watching our backs in 2009, because we frequent(ed) business that cater to LGBT customers. Oh, for our sins I am so ashamed! Thanks to Jesus that this would-be murderer has helped me to see the light! For being queer and associating with other queers in public I must die, and rightly so- it is better that I continue no longer to lead my sinful and purposeless life.

What crap. 2009, you had better shape up fast! Reactions from others?

Police in CA Murder Oscar Grant on Camera

The LA Times has the story:

Graphic video of Oscar J. Grant III’s death at an Oakland train station has roiled emotions in the Bay Area, leading to a demonstration at Bay Area Rapid Transit district headquarters and calls for more oversight of the agency’s police force.

The family of the 22-year-old father, who was shot to death by a BART police officer early on New Year’s Day, filed a $25-million wrongful death claim against the agency Tuesday.

…Grant had been celebrating New Year’s Eve in San Francisco and was heading back to his East Bay home on a BART train when a fight broke out between two groups of riders about 2 a.m.

BART police met the train at Oakland’s Fruitvale station and ordered passengers — including Grant — onto the platform.

Video taken by spectators with cellphones shows a chaotic scene, with uniformed officers pulling riders out of a train and then shoving one man onto the ground. With the man face down, an officer stands over him, draws his gun and shoots.

…According to the claim filed Tuesday, Grant was unarmed “and offered no physical resistance” to BART officers.

“Mr. Grant, fearing for his life, made a valiant effort to de-escalate the situation by appealing to the officer’s sense of humanity, telling the officer that he had a four-year-old daughter and asking the officer not to taze him,” the claim said. “Witnesses recount that Mr. Grant continuously repeated this prayer for relief to no avail.”

From Racewire: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now.

“They just shot him!”

Another angle

UPDATE: The officer has been identified as Johannes Mehserle.

President Jeb Bush?

AAAAAA! Daddy Bush thinks he’s got another great candidate for president lined up: his second son Jeb. People, after Jeb he’s got two more sons, Neil and Marvin, and a daughter, Dorothy. SOMEBODY STOP HIM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

His remarks: “I’d like to see him run. I’d like to see him be president someday.” When asked if he was serious, he said: “Or maybe senator. . .Whatever. Yes, I would. I mean, right now is probably a bad time, because we’ve had enough Bushes in there. But no, I would. And I think he’s as qualified and able as anyone I know on the political scene. Now, you’ve got to discount that. He’s my son.”

Lord help us. It does sound like Jeb is doing some résumé burnishing: apparently he is considering a run for the Senate. This is a man who has helped end affirmative action in Florida, who signed “Terri’s Law” relating to the Terri Schiavo situation, opposes gay marriage, domestic partner benefits, gay adoption and gay hate crime laws, calls feminism a “modern victim movement”, wants to build more prisons, supports abstinence education, wants more money for the “Drug War”, wants welfare recipients to feel “shame”, and believes that abortion should be banned except in the event of rape, incest or threat to the health of the mother.


Just Some Dead Queers of 2008


Just some queers and perceived queers who were subject to hate crimes and/or murder in 2008. Learn more about their stories by clicking on their names.

Taysia Elzy & Michael Hunt

Milton Lindgren & Eric Hendricks

Leeneshia Edwards

Ebony Whitaker

Duanna Johnson

San Francisco Lesbian

Simmie Williams

Jose Sucuzhanay

Lawrence King

Angie Zapata

Wayland Union High School Student

Nathan Runkle

Moses Cannon

Lance Neve

Tony Hunter

Jimmy Lee Dean

(“…suspects later admitted robbing Dean because they thought a gay man would make an easier target.”)

Here’s why hate crime legislation is necessary and not just an ’empty gesture’ as some have called it:

1. When hate crimes against certain groups are reported as such, the data can be tracked, aggregated, trends followed, and problem areas specifically addressed.

2. A hate crime has more victims than the primary person(s) who experienced the violence and abuse. A hate crime has as its secondary victims everyone else who belongs to that category that made the primary victims into targets. A hate crime against an individual who is perceived as LGBT has the effect of putting the whole LGBT community in a state of heightened fear. It establishes a precedent of attacking LGBT people because of their perceived queerness for other homophobic individuals who might tend towards violence.  Therefore, a murder as a result of a hate crime has wider negative effects than a murder that was  not a hate crime.

3. The label of hate crime breaks the silence that often surrounds violence and abuse towards oppressed and marginalized groups in society. It publicly names this particular kind of violence for what it is, which is of course essential if we want to look for real solutions to stop it. This is discussed in some of the links above… Indiana has no hate crime law, so LGBT advocates don’t know how prevalent hate crimes are, or which crimes against LGBT individuals were motivated by their LGBT status.

Something else to note: location, race, and socio-economic class seem to have important effects. A disproportionate number of those killed lived in conservative communities, were people of color, and were low-income. These parts of the victims’ identities intersect with their queerness, perceived or real, to create an identity, a personhood, that marked them as targets. Do their killers and harassers figure that by choosing victims who are doubly- and triply-marginalized they will be able to get away with their crimes? They certainly have enough precedent to think it’s a good bet. Or does possessing intersecting marginalized identities just create so much hate in would-be attackers that where one “offensive” identity would have been bearable, two or more is just temptation too great to resist?

From the Brooklyn Eagle via Pam’s House Blend:

The vast majority of brutality against gays is carried out by young men, usually acting in groups, said Riki Wilchins, executive director of Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a Washington nonprofit that works in schools to address discrimination.

Their victims most often are other young men with feminine demeanors or transgender women, said Wilchins. “These assailants are looking to eradicate and exterminate something that enrages them, and that is what makes them hate crimes,” he said.


Stapel attributed the increase in part to more people reporting incidents, but she believed there actually could have been more assaults because 2008 was an election year.

“Election years are always violent years for us because of wedge issues,” Stapel said, referring to ballot measures this year banning gay marriage in California and Florida. “With increased visibility comes increased vulnerability to LGBT stereotypes and violence. We’ve seen some of the most violent hate crimes that we’ve seen in a while.”

Do prominent anti-gay measures have the effect of creating more hate crimes against LGBT individuals? Do these measures send a message to society that queers are lesser people, second-class citizens, not quite as deserving of respectful treatment as “regular” folks? If we believe our laws are supposed to reflect our society’s values, then I would say that anti-gay laws definitely send a message that it is okay to treat LGBT people as “less than”. If we already have fewer rights before the law, some individuals inclined towards violence and hate will feel that violence against a gay person will be analogously less serious before the law than violence against a “regular” person.

Your thoughts please. Respect for the humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people is a requirement if you want to post. If I missed any anti-LGBT hate crimes, please post them in the comments!

Check out these great resources: LGBT Hate Crimes Project and LGBT Hate Crime Reports

Jewish Voices on Behalf of Gaza

The world’s Jewish community contains as many different perspectives on the current war in Gaza as there are Jews. I want to reinforce on my site that there are a number of Jewish groups out there who are condemning Israel’s disproportionate use of force against Hamas in Gaza, and the subsequent deaths of dozens of civilians and incredible loss of infrastructure and property. I have seen plenty of coverage of the current conflict that paints all Palestinians as “guilty” (of terrorism, I guess) simply for being Palestinian and existing in Gaza. Heck, my own government has been saying things like that, and standing back to let Israel wreak havoc and carnage in Gaza to collectively “punish” the Gazan Palestinians… for what? Being (mostly) Muslim, being Arab, resisting occupation, electing Hamas.

If we humiliate Hamas/Gazans/Palestinians thoroughly through extreme destruction and loss of life, will radicals who call for the end of Israel suddenly lose their potency, their appeal to the masses? I say “we” because the US is wrapped up in this conflict through and through, as is mentioned in my previous post, “Disproportionate Use of Force”. Are we not simply on the same course we’ve always been on since the founding of modern Israel?

So, to lift some of the gloom, here is a list of exciting Jewish and Israeli groups who have put out statements or information about the Gaza war that acknowledge Palestinian humanity without caveat. Check out the sites! This list was compiled with a lot of help from Modern Mitzvot, a blog where “progressive Jews discuss antisemitism, feminism, racism, social justice, and Palestinian rights.”


Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

No Time to Celebrate: Jews Remember the Nakba

Jews for Justice for Palestine

Jewish Voice for Peace

J Street

Americans for Peace Now

A very similar post is up at Alas. Please comment! No antisemitism or Islamophobia please.

Is It Illegal to Be Muslim in the USA?

Seems like it. You can get sent to jail for wearing a scarf around your head in a courthouse. And you can be detained by the FBI in an airport for having a beard or wearing a scarf. And looking “Arab,” of course.

Mr. Irfan turned to his wife, Sobia Ijaz, as they boarded AirTran Flight 175 at Reagan National Airport near Washington Thursday afternoon, and wondered aloud where the safest place to sit on the airplane would be — the front? The rear? Over the wing?

But passengers sitting behind them evidently overheard the remark, saw Mr. Irfan’s beard and his wife’s head scarf, and grew concerned. Mr. Irfan and his wife, along with six members of their extended family, are Muslims, and were on their way to a religious conference in Orlando when they boarded the flight.

The worried passengers contacted flight attendants, who contacted Transportation Security Administration officials, and soon, Mr. Irfan and his wife were off the plane and being questioned in the jetway. The six remaining family members in the traveling party were taken off the plane as well, along with a family friend who happened to be on the same flight and who happens to be a lawyer for the Library of Congress.

Next, the nine Muslim passengers — all but one are United States-born American citizens — were taken to a quarantine area in the passenger lounge where they were questioned by F.B.I. agents. Mr. Irfan’s three small nephews were denied access to food in the family’s carry-on luggage.


Alright, that was just rhetorical. But for real, is there any question whether that woman would have gone to jail, whether that family would have been detained, if they hadn’t been visibly Muslim? What else did they “do” to appear suspicious to those around them? If a white, non-Muslim couple had had the same discussion as Ms. Ijaz and her husband while waiting for a flight, can we reasonably expect that they would be prevented from boarding the flight and questioned by the FBI?

Let’s all hope these incidents are isolated, but remain vigilant against all instances of discrimination against the Muslim community.

To learn more about anti-Muslim bias in the US and efforts to counter it, visit the Council on American-Islamic Relations website and the awesome blog Muslimah Media Watch.

12/3/09 Update: AirTran has apologized. Yay AirTran for not remaining intractable.