Bats in the Bromley belfry

Masked vigilantes prowling the streets doling out justice to ne’er-do-wells are typically the province of comic books. These fictional vigilantes operate outside of the law and rarely have any official oversight, no governing body to regulate their actions. Usually, their strong moral character ensures that they only punish the guilty (leaving aside the fact that the vigilante sets themselves up as a judge and jury; something else they have no authority to do) and don’t typically present a threat to civilians (though as we see every day in USAmerica, organizations who are governed and regulated by official entities still trample on the rights of civilians and get away with it). For these reasons and more, it behooves civilians to not engage in vigilante activities, no matter how well-meaning they might be.

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Bats in the Bromley belfry
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LGBT News Round-Up 10.8.14

Kennedy orders temporary stay in Idaho, Nevada same-sex marriage rulings

Justice Kennedy, lost in thought as he considers “Do I continue to deny Americans the right to marry, or do I do the right thing and allow LBGT people to get married. I’ll wear my pensive face for this photo so that people may see how tough a decision this is.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Wednesday temporarily blocked an appeals court ruling that declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada.

Kennedy’s order came a little more than an hour after Idaho filed an emergency request for an immediate stay and about 10 minutes before the state said that state and county officials would otherwise have been required to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The order also applies to Nevada, where marriage licenses to same-sex couples were going to start to be issued later Wednesday.

The delay could last just a few days. Kennedy’s order requested a response from the plaintiffs involved in Idaho’s gay marriage lawsuit by the end of day Thursday.

The full court almost certainly would weigh in to extend the delay much beyond the weekend. That has been the justices’ practice in other cases in which a single justice initially blocked a ruling from taking effect.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada on Tuesday. A day earlier, the Supreme Court let similar rulings from three other appeals courts become final and effectively raised to 30 the number of states where same-sex couples can marry, or soon will be able to do so.

This is justice delayed. Again.

Update:

Justice Kennedy allows same-sex marriage to commence in Nevada

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Kentucky town rejects a non-discrimination ordinance 

The proposal failed on a 5-3 vote Tuesday night in the Kentucky town in the Appalachian foothills, according to media reports. The meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd, and others filled a former service station next door to watch the deliberations via television.

The measure would have prohibited discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people in housing, employment and public accommodations.

Councilwoman Violet Farmer, who opposed the measure, expressed support for the concept of treating everyone fairly but questioned the need for “another protected class.”

Chester Powell, another council member who voted against the proposal, cited a lack of documented complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I’m not seeing any reason for the ordinance,” Powell said.

Next time you’re looking for discrimination, why not try asking the LGBT people who have experienced it. For fuck’s sake, this is a town that denies that discrimination exists.  Do you people really think you’re that damn special? Do you think you live in some sort of bubble that prevents homophobia and discrimination from affecting the citizens of your town? Homophobia is a widespread problem and it occurs in Anywhere, USA. That you don’t see it is due to your heterosexual privilege, which allows you to navigate through life oblivious to the difficulties faced by LGBT people for their sexuality and gender identity.

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 Nevada Democratic State Senator Kelvin Atkinson proposes to his long time partner

“I’m black, I’m gay, I have dealt with a lot of what you folks are talking about,” Atkinson told his fellow Senators. “I know some of you,” he said, for first time are “hearing me say that, that I am a black gay male.”

Atkinson added he had “heard some people say some nasty, ugly things, because they didn’t know” he was gay.

Yesterday, speaking at an event hosted by Freedom Nevada at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, Atkinson again surprised his audience who were celebrating the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling striking down marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho.

“I didn’t want to go to another state,” Sen. Atkinson told the audience.

He said he always felt he’d stay in Nevada and would “stick it out,” until marriage came to his state, “and hopefully Woody would stick it out with me and we’d wait until this was done so that I could do what I thought that I wanted to do, and that was to propose to him.”

The crowd began to cheer, and Woody, Atkinson’s partner of six and a half years, Sherwood Howard, smiled, and looked surprised.

Atkinson observed that the cameras were “live right now,” and the audience screamed, “Do it!”

Howard nervously made his way on stage, and Atkinson said, “Woody, I know it has been six years, they haven’t alays been great, but we’ve been great partners.” He added that Woody does a lot of his political work and he is “the one person I trust the most toy be there with me, to be there for me, to be that confidant, to be my friend, and my partner.”

“So I’ll say it in front of everybody, will you marry me?”

Howard said “Yes”.  Hoo-Ray!

* * * *

Black America wants gay weddings protected from discrimination despite opposing gay marriage

Even though only around 4 in 10 African Americans support same-sex marriage, new research has found that a majority of them still feel that it is wrong for businesses to be legally able to refuse to provide goods and services to gay couples who are getting married.

The Pew Research Center found that 61% of the African Americans they surveyed agreed that it was wrong for for-profit businesses to deny same-sex couples goods and services based on the owner or employee’s religious beliefs.

In comparison only 45% of White Americans thought businesses should not be allowed to deny wedding related services to same-sex couples.

This was despite 53% of White Americans saying they supported the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Researchers at the Pew Research Center believe the high level of support among African Americans for gays and lesbians to be legally protected from discrimination may be a result of their shared experience of being discriminated against.

Why do I think the opposition to same-sex marriage is religiously based? LGBT Americans have the same rights as enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  To deny that is to deny citizens of this country basic human rights.  To deny rights to a segment of the population based on their sexuality is homophobia. It’s bigotry. I don’t care what your justification is.  Even if your god existed, it would still be bigotry.

LGBT News Round-Up 10.8.14

Fuck. Shit is hitting the fan in Ferguson, MO.

5 arrested, two officers shot in Brown memorial unrest

Five protesters were arrested and some businesses were damaged Tuesday night after a memorial to Michael Brown was destroyed in a fire. The confrontation reignited tensions in the St. Louis suburb that was rocked by violence this summer after Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot by a Ferguson police officer.

During a news conference Wednesday, Capt. Ron Johnson with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said two St. Louis County police officers were injured during the unrest.

Johnson said one of the officers was hit just underneath his eye with a rock. He is expected to recover.

The unrest started Tuesday when a beauty supply store was looted and vandalized by several people attempting to haul out a cash register. Johnson said the manager said this was the third time the store had been broken into in the last six weeks.

Police responded to the break-in and then several gunshots were heard and approximately 200 people gathered at the site where demonstrations were held after the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, 18, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

After the break-in, a fire was reported at a restaurant on Carson Road. Johnson said the investigation shows gasoline appears to have been poured around the restaurant. He said the fire was put out by Ferguson firefighters.

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Ferguson police officer shot, but not killed

Scant details at the moment, but we’ll know more soon, I’m sure.

Update:

Police say the shooting occurred while the officer was at the Ferguson Community Center checking the building.

Tim Zoll of the Ferguson Police Department said the officer was shot in the arm. The officer’s identity and condition is unknown at this time. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the officer is female.

The suspect is still at large. No further information was immediately available.

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 Ferguson unrest

Cast as an olive branch by some, the Ferguson police chief’s attempt to march with protesters demanding charges in the killing of an unarmed, black 18-year-old by a white officer still erupted into a clash that activists Friday blamed on police missteps.

The trouble Thursday night came hours after Police Chief Tom Jackson released a videotaped apology to Michael Brown’s family that drew skepticism from residents and protesters who still crave answers about Brown’s death. A county grand jury is weighing whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting, and the Justice Department is investigating whether Brown’s civil rights were violated.

This “olive branch” ought to have been extended the same day Michael Brown was murdered.  I think it’s a bit late in the eyes of many people.  For my part, it rings hollow bc it flies in the face of the chief’s actions since August 9th.  He’s got an uphill battle ahead of him if he wants people to think he’s on the correct side of justice.

 

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Browns unmoved by chief’s apology

The parents of Michael Brown told The Associated Press on Saturday they were unmoved by the apology given by the Ferguson, Missouri, police chief weeks after their unarmed 18-year-old son was killed by a police officer.

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said, “yes,” when asked if Chief Tom Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they would rather see the officer who shot their son arrested for his Aug. 9 death.

Fuck. Shit is hitting the fan in Ferguson, MO.

Liberty and Justice…for all?

In 1892, the United States Pledge of Allegiance was written by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy. Today, US citizens are likely familiar with the refrain:

“”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

What some may not know is that this is not the original wording.  In 1954, the words “under God” were added to the pledge.  Prior to that, the Pledge read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Even this, however, was not the original form of the Pledge.  The year 1923 saw the addition of the words ‘the Flag of the United States of America’ to the Pledge.  The original Pledge of Allegiance read as follows:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(I find the random capitalization to be really amusing. There is no reason for either ‘flag’ or ‘republic’ to be capitalized.  It’s as silly as religious people capitalizing random religious words.)

I take issue with the forced recitation of the Pledge, especially in public schools.  Young children are not taught what it means to pledge allegiance to their country. They’re just taught to do so and told it’s the right and proper thing to do.  What is so great about pledging your loyalty to a flag, or a country? Moreover, why should one be compelled to do so?  It does nothing more than enforce blind patriotism in people who are often too young to fully understand what they are doing and why.  That way often leads to nationalism and jingoism.  As seen in the War on Terror, many Americans blindly supported the United States’ actions overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan-which, while ostensibly under the cover of capturing those responsible for the September 11th attacks, involved invading a sovereign nation and engaging in actions that led to the death of innocents (according to a Brown University study, 132,000 civilians were killed in 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan).  The killing of innocent people is completely at odds with the notion of ‘liberty and justice for all’.  Teaching our youth that the United States is a great country, without equal, and dedicated to concepts such as justice, fairness, equality, and liberty before they can understand those concepts and analyze whether the actions of the US are in line with those concepts breeds nothing more than blind loyalty.  Such loyalty can result in people glossing over, or completely ignoring the fact that throughout the history of the US, the government has not embodied the concepts of justice, fairness, equality, and liberty for all.

“Really?” some might ask.

“Fuck, yes.” I’d likely respond.

“Explain yourself!” some might respond.

“Go educate yourself, you who are online and capable of employing the Google on your own” might often be a response back from me.

This time, I won’t go that route.  I’ll spoonfeed the smugnoramuses (portmanteau of ‘smug’ and ‘ignoramus’) out there…a little.

Examples of the United States not living up to the concepts of ‘liberty and justice for all’ (aside from the aforementioned killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan):

The genocide of First Nation people in the United States.

The treatment of African-Americans as slaves in the United States.

Japanese-American internment camps-in the USA-during WWII.

Women as second class citizens in the US.

The United States has a long history-that continues to this day-of treating people really shitty. That’s why I love the claims of right wing extremists who long for the days of yesteryear when the US was a bastion of morality and a shining example of all that is good in the world (where. is. my. puke. bucket). Are they talking about those bygone days like this:

Slave life varied greatly depending on many factors.

Life on the fields meant working sunup to sundown six days a week and having food sometimes not suitable for an animal to eat. Plantation slaves lived in small shacks with a dirt floor and little or no furniture. Life on large plantations with a cruel overseer was oftentimes the worst.

Perhaps they’re referring to these good ole’ days of the Sand Creek Massacre:

However, Chivington ignored the symbol of peace and surrender, raising his arm for attack. An easy victory at hand, cannons and rifles began to pound upon the camp as the Indians scattered in panic. The frenzied soldiers began to charge, hunting down men, women, and children, shooting them unmercifully. A few warriors managed to fight back allowing some members of the camp to escape across the stream.

One man, Silas Soule, a Massachusetts abolitionist, refused to follow Colonel Chivington’s orders. He did not allow his cavalry company to fire into the crowd.

The troops kept up their indiscriminate assault for most of the day, during which numerous atrocities were committed. One lieutenant was said to have killed and scalped three women and five children who had surrendered and were screaming for mercy. Finally breaking off their attack they returned to the camp killing all the wounded they could find before mutilating and scalping the dead, including pregnant women, children and babies. They then plundered the teepees and divided up the Indians’ horse herd before leaving.

When the attack was over, as many as 150 Indians lay dead, most of which were old men, women and children. In the meantime, the cavalry lost only 9 or ten men, with about three dozen wounded. Black Kettle and his wife followed the others up the stream bed, his wife being shot several times, but somehow managed to survive

Or maybe they’re thinking of the days when wives could be legally raped by their husbands:

It was not until the late 1970s that anyone was convicted of raping his spouse in the United States. Before then, criminal codes typically included a “marital rape exemption,” or provision barring prosecution for the rape of one’s spouse. Such laws reflected then popularly held views that only stranger rape constituted “real rape” or that forced sex is a “wifely duty.”

This thinking mirrored the common law presumption, in effect for hundreds of years, that spouses should be exempt from prosecution. It was based in a theory articulated by Matthew Hale, [Chief Justice in England in the 17th century,who] “wrote: “[t]he husband cannot be guilty of rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto the husband which she cannot retract.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous states adopted laws criminalizing marital rape, and by July 1993, it was illegal in every state to rape your spouse.

(Incidentally, North Carolina was the last state to decide “hey women have the right to be protected from marital rape” in 19-fucking-93).

There are many more examples of the failure of the United States to live up to the principles of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Perhaps our government ought to focus on teaching children what it means to be good people.  They ought to teach them the principles of egalitarianism and humanism.  They need to teach what the concepts mean, why they are important, and show how each and every one of us can live up to these concepts. This needs to be taught to kids at appropriate ages, and needs to be ongoing, with no whitewashing.  Teach the good AND the bad.

Also, the US ought to lead by example.  A good start?  Arresting Darren Wilson.

Liberty and Justice…for all?