Observations on the Orlando Shooting

When I awoke on June 12, I reached for my cellphone as I always do upon waking, and saw a group message from my sister to our parents and myself.  The message was about the shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. She was letting us know that she was safe. See, my sister and my parents all live in Orlando. In fact, my sister lives with a roommate just a few miles from Pulse. Moreover, she’s friends with many people in the queer community down there, and has been to that club before. I was deeply, deeply heartened to know that she wasn’t among the victims of that horrific tragedy (nor was her roommate, who actually considered going there that night.Normally when I wake in the morning, I need about half an hour to become alert and “with it”. Not on that day. The news immediately rocked me out of my post-sleep slump. I searched around for more information on the shooting and found that 20 people were listed dead with many more injured. A few hours later, that number shot up to 50, though it was later learned that one of the people listed among the dead was actually alive. Wielding a semi-automatic pistol and an AR-15 rifle (both quick-reloading weapons) that he was able to buy with ease roughly a week before his attack, Mateen ruthlessly, maliciously, destroyed dozens upon dozens of LGBTQIA lives. His actions also irrevocably altered the lives of those victims who survived, some of whom are still fighting to stay alive. The act of terror also had a ripple effect, extending outward from Orlando to the rest of the state and beyond. How could it not? It felt like….it WAS an act of terror upon a community constantly faced with an oppressive heteronormative, cisnormative society that says YOUR LIVES DON’T MATTER. Like many, I was struck by the horror of that day. I was affected as were so many others. I do not pretend to have been victimized like those that died, or the survivors. But as a member of the LGBTQIA community, the events of that night did have an effect upon me. The following is less a blog post and more of an attempt to get my thoughts out in something resembling a coherent form.

Continue reading “Observations on the Orlando Shooting”

Observations on the Orlando Shooting
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Racism Round-Up 4.8.15

In the eyes of some USAmerican citizens, we are living in a ‘post-racial’ society. In other words, here in the United States of America, racism is a thing of the past. What these people never explain is how this supposed ‘post-racial’ society was achieved. They offer no explanation for what happened to the racist opinions held by many U.S. citizens-many of whom are still alive. Did the Civil Rights Act magically erase all racist views-conscious and unconscious-of bigoted white people in this country? Or did racist white USAmericans sit up in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr’s death and reject all their racist beliefs? Was the USAmerican criminal justice system overhauled while no one was looking? When did African-Americans gain the same political, economic, and social power of white people? Those who believe we’ve moved past racism have offered no explanations for how we’ve reached this post-racial utopia, but they have offered evidence of their claim: President Obama. Uh-huh. I’m just a wee bit underwhelmed by such “evidence”. It is a fact that we do have an African-American President (yes, President Obama is a USAmerican citizen, contrary to the idiotic claims of birthers like Donald Trump). It is also a fact that the Department of Justice’s Ferguson Report documented numerous examples of individual and systemic racism within the Ferguson PD. Clearly the presence of a black man in the Oval Office does not mean that racism is over (even if a black man as President meant racism against black people was over, what about racism against other racial groups like Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and American Indians?). Aside from that, I have seen nothing else offered up as proof that we live in a ‘post-racial’ society. In contrast, I’ve seen plenty of evidence showing that racism is alive and well in the United States. On the macro-level, there is ample evidence demonstrating that systemic racism permeates society, especially our criminal justice system (this is a great resource for people who don’t understand what systemic racism is). On the individual, micro-level, racism occurs all the time. Here are a handful of recent examples of racism on the individual level (and one of systemic racism):


FL chef fires back at KKK threats over his interracial marriage: ‘You’re a coward, brother’

Donna Slawsky, who owns the Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery with her husband in Bradenton, said the message was left on their business phone line by someone who identified himself as KKK member Ralph Edward.

“I’m the leader of the KKK in this area, and I’d like you people to leave this neighborhood now,” the message said. “We don’t want you here no more. Get the f*ck out.”

Slawsky said her husband, Jim Copening, recently had a confrontation with two men who threatened to send their “friends from the KKK” after him, although they aren’t sure the incidents are related.

“I’m not scared,” Slawsky said. “I’m outraged.”

Copening had a message of his own to share with whoever left him the threatening voice mail.

“What I want to say to them?” he said. “‘You’re a coward, brother — you need to go work your stuff out, but not over here. I didn’t come to your place starting nonsense with you, so don’t come to mine.’”

* * * *

‘Lynch ’em’: Pennsylvania university expels students for racist comments on radio

I’m somewhat torn on this one.  On the one hand, I do think the university should have taken measures to punish the students, but I don’t think they needed to expel them. I think that’s going to make them even more embittered and doesn’t serve the goal of combating racism. They needed to face some form of punishment, but I also think they needed some mandatory classes on diversity, or something aimed at chipping away at the racial biases and stereotypes they hold.

Their conduct was “a clear violation of our community standards,” President John Bravman said in an email to staff and students late on Monday.

One of the students used a derogatory term for black people, another said: “Black people should be dead,” and a third said: “Lynch ‘em” during a March 20 broadcast on WVBU, Bucknell’s student-run radio station, Bravman said in his email.

The expulsions were among several recent moves by U.S. colleges and universities to deal with racism on campus.

About 3,600 students attend Bucknell, located in the central Pennsylvania town of Lewisburg.

The Bucknell radio broadcast was heard by a local prison inmate, who contacted the Lewisburg Prison Project.

Dave Sprout, a paralegal at the inmate support organization, said he contacted Bucknell, and school officials reviewed tapes of the broadcast.

Sprout said the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg had more than 1,300 inmates, many of whom listen to Bucknell’s radio station.

“Racism exists on campuses across the country and, in fact, throughout society,” Bucknell’s president wrote in his email. “We need to look no further than recent news headlines to see that.”

Connecticut College canceled all classes on Monday to hold campus-wide counseling and discussions after an offensive posting was found on a professor’s Facebook page and racist graffiti in a restroom.

* * * *

Georgia judge allegedly uses N-word in court

A county judge in Georgia and two sheriff’s deputies are accused of using the n-word in court, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

Allen Duray Green, an African American, was waiting in the Fannin County Courthouse on March 16 to testify at a bond hearing for his friend Robert Vivian, who is white.

When Judge Roger Bradley reviewed the witness list, he asked about Green’s identity. The two sheriff’s deputies responded, “N–ger Ray,” witnesses in the courtroom told Fox 5.

The judge went a step further and told a story about an African-American bootlegger in the county who used the nickname “N–ger Bob.”

McCaysville Police Officer Michael Early was in the courtroom. “I overheard the n-word followed by ‘Ray,’” he told a Fox 5 reporter. Early also confirmed, in a written statement, that more than one person used the n-word in court that morning.

The judge’s defenders said the context is misunderstood. Bradley and the deputies were referring to Green’s street name, they explained to Fox 5. But Green said he doesn’t have a street name, and no one had ever called him “N–ger Ray” before this incident.

“It hurts. It still hurts right now,” Green said in an interview. “It’s a subject that my grandfather, my great-grandfather, had to deal with. Not me.”

* * * *

If we lived in a post-racial USAmerica, there would be no racist asshats posting shit like this on Twitter:

That racist-as-fuck Tweet came from someone who got angry over a speech First Lady Michelle Obama gave at BET’s Black Girls Rock:

When I was a girl, I had parents that loved and believed in me, but those doubts still worked their way into my head. and I was always worried about something. Does my hair look right? Am I too tall? Do I raise my hand too much in class? So when folks said a girl like me shouldn’t aspire to go to the very best colleges in the country I thought ‘Maybe they’re right.’

But eventually I learned that each of those doubts were like a little test. . . that I could either shrink away from or rise up to meet and I decided to rise.

Yes, I decided to rewrite those tired old scripts that define too many of us. I decided that I wasn’t bossy, I was confident and strong. I wasn’t loud, I was a young woman with something important to say and when I looked in the mirror I say a tall, beautiful and smart black girl. … and that’s what I want for you, I want you to live life on your own terms. … but anyone who’s achieved anything in life knows that challenges and failures are necessary components of success. They know that when things get hard, that’s not always a sign that you’re doing some thing wrong, that’s often a sign that you’re doing something right. Those hard times are what shape you into the person you’re meant to be.

Yeah. Racism in this country is a thing of the past. Is it possible to roll your eyes so hard they fall out of their sockets?

* * * *

In most cities, blacks get paid a fraction of what whites make

In the cities where black families have the highest incomes, white families still typically make about 40 percent more, according to a new report. The report comes 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march from Selma to Montgomery, and shows the prosperity gap between the races.

In Washington, D.C., Arlington, Md., and Alexandria, W.Va.—the cities with the highest median incomes for both blacks and whites — the $108,254 median income for whites dwarfs the comparative $64,663 figure for black families. A similar income gap also exists in the cities where median household incomes for the two groups are the lowest, the National Urban League found in its Equality Index report. The San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward areas in California are the least equal between blacks and whites in terms of household earnings. Median black income in those places is $39,902 vs. $95,285 for whites.

Similarly, unemployment among blacks in the U.S. is much higher. The rate for whites is 5.3 percent, compared to 11.3 percent for blacks. The gap widens further in certain metro areas. Jackson, Mississippi, has the highest such gap, with 14 percent of blacks unemployed and 3.9 percent of whites.

Racism Round-Up 4.8.15

Indiana's new law and why I hate the phrase 'PC'

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has faced heavy and well-deserved criticism for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (you can read the full text of the law here). Critics of the law maintain that it opens the door for legalized discrimination against LGBT people. Supporters of the argument claim that the law is not a license to discriminate against LGBT people (the conservatives who advocated for the bill’s passage say otherwise). According to them, Indiana’s RFRA is meant to protect the right of business owners to operate their business according to their religious beliefs and without undue interference by the federal government. They also criticize opponents of the law for ignoring the federal government’s 1993 RFRA as well as the religious freedom laws passed in 19 other states. Contrary to the protestations of right-wing pundits (as well as mainstream media outlets), the law is substantially different from the federal government’s 1993 RFRA. In addition, the language contained in the Indiana law differs from the RFRA’s enacted by other states across the country. Bottom line: Indiana’s RFRA is unique and offers bigoted business owners the legal cudgel they need to discriminate against those they don’t like (outrage over the law has focused largely on how it could impact LGBT citizens of the state, but the law could potentially be used to discriminate against women, African-Americans, and non-Christians).

Shortly after the bill was signed into law, it, Governor Pence, and the state of Indiana all came under heavy fire (here is a list of the entities-celebrities, corporations, sports organizations, colleges & universities, and more-who have criticized the new law). On Tuesday, Brett Jewkes, Senior Vice-President and Chief Communications Officer for NASCAR (the second most popular sport in USAmerica) released a statement denouncing the discriminatory law:

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.” — NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes

Of course no good deed (or statement, in this case) goes unpunished. Some NASCAR fans took to Twitter to let NASCAR know they weren’t happy:

https://twitter.com/elJimBo70/status/583346033024995328

Those last two Tweets struck a nerve with me. A big nerve. Like Grand Canyon size. So I did what any angry, self-respecting, SJW would do: I wrote a bunch of words. The following is a comment I left at Addicting Info:

I really, Really, REALLY want to take the phrase ‘politically correct’ out back and chop its head off, stake it through the heart, and burn the ashes. I’m so sick of hearing that phrase invoked.

Don’t like that a company supports equal rights for all? Accuse them of being PC.

Don’t like people requesting that you moderate your language (which is not censorship) and stop using bigoted or gendered slurs bc they punch down on marginalized people and contribute to a climate of discrimination and oppression? Accuse them of being PC.

Don’t like the idea of students requesting that professors add trigger warnings to certain topics so that those students won’t be caught off-guard when sensitive material is discussed? Accuse them of being PC (and curiously, I’ve yet to see PC complaints lobbed at the Motion Picture Film Industry and the ratings they use to inform viewers of the type of material present in a movie).

‘PC’ has become a blanket term for “stuff I don’t like or disagree with”. Moreover, it has become a term that many feel is an argument unto itself. Rather than engage with the substance of a particular topic, a great many of the people who lob the ‘PC’ bomb invariably lob it and walk away. Just look at the pissants in the OP whining about NASCAR being “politically correct”. Do they even understand the very phrase they’re using? Do they know that generally speaking, PC means:

“[…] an attitude or policy of being careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society who are believed to have a disadvantage.”
(from wiki)

With that definition in mind…I’d like to ask these socially regressive numpties: why it is so bad to be PC?
What is so horrible about someone advocating that people not refer to women as sluts?
What is so awful about someone requesting that others not refer to lesbians as ‘dykes’?
Why is it such a bad thing that companies like Starbucks, Nike, and NASCAR publicly declare their opposition to discrimination?
Being careful so as not to offend people that are crapped upon by society (to different degrees) or requesting that others employ greater care with their words and deeds–this is something that’s bad?

The fools in the above Tweets are whining about NASCAR taking the position that discrimination against LGBT people is not ok. By [poorly] arguing that NASCAR should “stay out of this”, they’re sending the message that they (and other companies) should not comment on human rights violations. Thankfully, more and more companies are recognizing that diversity initiatives and a welcoming, inclusive work environment are important keys to the success of a company. And part of that is making it known that you are an inclusive company that opposes discrimination.

Gee, that’s such an awful thing.

::rolls eyes::

Writing that was a bit cathartic. I’m still annoyed/angry/frustrated of course, but I needed to get that off my chest. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think Mr. Pointy and I have some slaying to do.

Indiana's new law and why I hate the phrase 'PC'

Indiana’s new law and why I hate the phrase ‘PC’

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has faced heavy and well-deserved criticism for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (you can read the full text of the law here). Critics of the law maintain that it opens the door for legalized discrimination against LGBT people. Supporters of the argument claim that the law is not a license to discriminate against LGBT people (the conservatives who advocated for the bill’s passage say otherwise). According to them, Indiana’s RFRA is meant to protect the right of business owners to operate their business according to their religious beliefs and without undue interference by the federal government. They also criticize opponents of the law for ignoring the federal government’s 1993 RFRA as well as the religious freedom laws passed in 19 other states. Contrary to the protestations of right-wing pundits (as well as mainstream media outlets), the law is substantially different from the federal government’s 1993 RFRA. In addition, the language contained in the Indiana law differs from the RFRA’s enacted by other states across the country. Bottom line: Indiana’s RFRA is unique and offers bigoted business owners the legal cudgel they need to discriminate against those they don’t like (outrage over the law has focused largely on how it could impact LGBT citizens of the state, but the law could potentially be used to discriminate against women, African-Americans, and non-Christians).

Shortly after the bill was signed into law, it, Governor Pence, and the state of Indiana all came under heavy fire (here is a list of the entities-celebrities, corporations, sports organizations, colleges & universities, and more-who have criticized the new law). On Tuesday, Brett Jewkes, Senior Vice-President and Chief Communications Officer for NASCAR (the second most popular sport in USAmerica) released a statement denouncing the discriminatory law:

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.” — NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes

Of course no good deed (or statement, in this case) goes unpunished. Some NASCAR fans took to Twitter to let NASCAR know they weren’t happy:

https://twitter.com/elJimBo70/status/583346033024995328

Those last two Tweets struck a nerve with me. A big nerve. Like Grand Canyon size. So I did what any angry, self-respecting, SJW would do: I wrote a bunch of words. The following is a comment I left at Addicting Info:

I really, Really, REALLY want to take the phrase ‘politically correct’ out back and chop its head off, stake it through the heart, and burn the ashes. I’m so sick of hearing that phrase invoked.

Don’t like that a company supports equal rights for all? Accuse them of being PC.

Don’t like people requesting that you moderate your language (which is not censorship) and stop using bigoted or gendered slurs bc they punch down on marginalized people and contribute to a climate of discrimination and oppression? Accuse them of being PC.

Don’t like the idea of students requesting that professors add trigger warnings to certain topics so that those students won’t be caught off-guard when sensitive material is discussed? Accuse them of being PC (and curiously, I’ve yet to see PC complaints lobbed at the Motion Picture Film Industry and the ratings they use to inform viewers of the type of material present in a movie).

‘PC’ has become a blanket term for “stuff I don’t like or disagree with”. Moreover, it has become a term that many feel is an argument unto itself. Rather than engage with the substance of a particular topic, a great many of the people who lob the ‘PC’ bomb invariably lob it and walk away. Just look at the pissants in the OP whining about NASCAR being “politically correct”. Do they even understand the very phrase they’re using? Do they know that generally speaking, PC means:

“[…] an attitude or policy of being careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society who are believed to have a disadvantage.”
(from wiki)

With that definition in mind…I’d like to ask these socially regressive numpties: why it is so bad to be PC?
What is so horrible about someone advocating that people not refer to women as sluts?
What is so awful about someone requesting that others not refer to lesbians as ‘dykes’?
Why is it such a bad thing that companies like Starbucks, Nike, and NASCAR publicly declare their opposition to discrimination?
Being careful so as not to offend people that are crapped upon by society (to different degrees) or requesting that others employ greater care with their words and deeds–this is something that’s bad?

The fools in the above Tweets are whining about NASCAR taking the position that discrimination against LGBT people is not ok. By [poorly] arguing that NASCAR should “stay out of this”, they’re sending the message that they (and other companies) should not comment on human rights violations. Thankfully, more and more companies are recognizing that diversity initiatives and a welcoming, inclusive work environment are important keys to the success of a company. And part of that is making it known that you are an inclusive company that opposes discrimination.

Gee, that’s such an awful thing.

::rolls eyes::

Writing that was a bit cathartic. I’m still annoyed/angry/frustrated of course, but I needed to get that off my chest. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think Mr. Pointy and I have some slaying to do.

Indiana’s new law and why I hate the phrase ‘PC’

My response to Rep. Fiore (R-NV)

I sent the following message to Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, in response to her comments suggesting that racism is a thing of the past:

Rep. Fiore,

I recently became aware of the comments you made during a hearing before the Nevada Assembly’s Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. These comments indicate that you feel racism is over. It is not, and the fact that you think so worries me. I also feel that you have a very limited understanding of racism.

Racism is not just “discrimination or bigotry towards an individual or individuals based on their actual or perceived race”. The sociological definition of racism is ‘power plus prejudice’ and is inclusive of individual acts of bigotry as well as systemic race-based discrimination.

Racism is more than lynching (have you read about the hanging of Otis Byrd yet?).

It is more than calling black people, American Indians, Latinos, or Asians one of the many bigoted slurs used to deny them their basic humanity (slurs which continue to be used to this day).

Racism is more than making black people sit at the back of the bus or enter the back door of an establishment.

Racism isn’t limited to the US imprisoning Japanese Americans in WWII.

It’s more than the Tuskegee Experiments.

It’s more than ‘Birth of a Nation’.

Racism is more than just the way people act, or the things they say. Racism is also about institutions. Institutions like the USAmerican criminal justice system which treats white people more fairly than people of color, disproportionately targets Blacks and Latinos for stopping and frisking, and imprisons African-Americans at an alarming rate.

Racism is also the War on Drugs.  Despite the fact that White Americans use drugs at roughly the same rate as African-Americans, the War on Drugs has had a far greater impact on Black people.

Racism is about people failing to realize that ‘People of Color’ and ‘African-American’ are not interchangeable terms.

Racism is also the way politicians speak about and craft legislation concerning undocumented immigrants.

Racism is also the way people refer to African-Americans as thugs (which is a stand-in for N*gger). Or the way political pundits drone on about “black on black” violence while ignoring the fact that white people commit almost as much violence against other white people.

Racism is also about politicians fighting to end or reduce the effectiveness of government assistance programs. Many political figures think that those making use of government assistance are all unemployed, lazy black people who shouldn’t be supported by the government. They’re ignorant of the facts that show that huge numbers of low-income people *have* jobs and still need government assistance to survive. They’re ignorant of all the poor white men and women who use government assistance, as well as the children of poor families who need it and the senior citizens who need it. Meanwhile, corporations across the country get tax breaks–i.e. government assistance–and there’s not a peep from these politicians.

Racism is also about voter ID laws which disproportionately target People of Color.

Racism is also the way people think of Muslims as being a threat (yes there is a racial component to anti-Muslim bigotry; these bigots likely don’t have white Muslims in mind when they talk about the threat of Muslims and Islam).

Racism is also about the implicit racial biases that float around in the back of the minds of even those people who think they aren’t racist. These biases affect us on subconscious levels and can be difficult to detect, but they are there. Subconscious biases lead people to make snap judgments about others, such as when a woman clutches her purse as she walks past black people.

Racism is also respectability politics. African-Americans are routinely admonished to pull their pants up,

Racism is not over. It is still alive and well. It manifests in both subtle and overt ways and can be seen in individuals or institutions. It affects African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, and American Indians. While White Americans can be indirectly affected by racism (for instance, white friends or family members of PoC), they are not the target of it. It is American Indians, not White Americans, who are directly impacted by the continued refusal of the Washington Redskins’ owner to change the teams’ name.  It is Latinos and Hispanic-Americans, not White Americans, who have to deal with racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It is Asian-Americans, not White Americans, who face labor market discrimination.  It was African-Americans, not White Americans, who were horribly treated-for decades-by the racist Ferguson Police Department.  And rather than White Americans, it is African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Latinos, Asian-Americans, and American Indians who are routinely face discrimination at all levels in the motion picture film industry. As a White American, you do not get to decide when racism is over. You are not the target.

I hope the pushback you’ll inevitably receive prompts you to learn more about racism in the U.S.  There is a wealth of information available attesting to the continued existence of racism. That it permeates our culture is a fact. Unlike People of Color, that is a fact that you have the privilege of not acknowledging. As racism doesn’t affect your everyday life in any meaningful way, you don’t have to live with the daily realities faced by People of Color. By denying the existence of racism, you erase the stories of people across the country. And that in itself is racist.

So was referring to your colleague as ‘colored’.

Sincerely,

A Person of Color who continues to be affected by racism

My response to Rep. Fiore (R-NV)

Blasphemy laws are an affront to human rights

Freedom of thought and freedom of expression are two fundamental rights that every human being has. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in recognizing these rights, declares:

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Despite this, countries like Pakistan stifle freedom of expression through so-called blasphemy laws. In Pakistan, these laws criminalize

[…] the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for deities, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.

A Christian woman accused of blasphemy four years ago has had her death sentence upheld by the Lahore High Court (LHC):

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy four years ago, as her lawyers vowed to appeal.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death rowsince November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) during an argument with a Muslim woman.

“A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of Asia Bibi but we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” her lawyer Shakir Chaudhry told AFP.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.

Two high-profile politicians – then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti – were murdered in 2011 after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law and describing Bibi’s trial as flawed.

The blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009.

She was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations.

They’re going to put her to death for touching a bowl. I don’t support the death penalty for anything, but at least in the case of murderers, I can see the logical chain of reasoning.  “Ted Bundy killed X number of people and to prevent him from doing so again, we will put him to death.”  Asia Bibi harmed NO ONE. She went to touch a fucking bowl for fuck’s sake.  Aside from the fact that there are rules about who can and cannot touch a damn bowl, it’s also beyond asinine that someone who is not even Muslim must adhere to the rules of Islam. That’s massively oppressive of both Muslims and non-Muslims.

One problem with blasphemy laws, as seen in the case of Asia Bibi, is that every citizen of a country is accountable under those laws.  Even if you don’t follow the dominant religion in a country, you still have to abide by rules such as “don’t offend the prophet”. That does not allow people to believe as they choose, nor does it allow people to express themselves as they choose (and to be clear, I don’t believe in an absolute right to freedom of expression; inciting others to violence should not be protected speech, but in that case, it’s because there is demonstrable harm that will likely result; no such harm is present in burning a Bible or “blaspheming” the prophet).

Another issue is that blasphemy laws fly in the face of the right to expression. They hold religion to be more important than humans. They treat objects, books, or things as more valuable than actual people. Blasphemy laws inhibit freedom of speech and expression and actively contribute to oppressing people. It’s clear that countries with blasphemy laws do not value free and open discourse.  Whether political, religious, scientific, or economic, all ideas must be free to be discussed otherwise no one is truly free. Religious beliefs should not be considered above reproach. Religious beliefs should not have rights, but to make “offending” religion a crime means that religious beliefs-ideas-have rights.

No. They do not.

People have rights. Living, breathing people. Religious beliefs cannot be harmed. People can be. Yes, people may be offended by someone expressing their opinion of their religion, such as when I criticize Hinduism, Scientology, or Mormonism.  For all that people’s feelings might be hurt, they themselves are not. Blasphemy laws, on the other hand, often lead to demonstrable harm, up to and including death. Human rights are what are under discussion and what are important (not to mention, such silliness as “you’ve offended the prophet” is patently ridiculous; aside from the fact that there’s no evidence that he existed, even if he did, he’s dead-you can’t offend a dead person).

Without blasphemy laws, the free and open exchange of ideas, a right all human beings possess, allows people to openly criticize political, social, economic, and yes, religious beliefs. This may offend some people, but it does not cause tangible, measurable harm. Contrast that with countries that execute people over blasphemy. Having your feelings hurt vs. being murdered. Which one causes more harm?

End blasphemy laws.

You can read more on blasphemy laws here and here.

Blasphemy laws are an affront to human rights

LGBT Link Round Up 10.17.14

Hate Crimes Down Overall But Up Against Lesbians And Transgender People

And now for some good news: hate crimes decreased by 17 percent in Los Angeles in 2013.

This number comes from the L.A. County Commission of Human Relations (LACCHR), which analyzes reported hate crimes in L.A. every year. There were 384 reported hate crimes in 2013, down from 462 the year prior, according to a release. Those numbers are also the lowest they’ve been in 24 years.

The best fact from the report is that there were no murders or attempted murders classified as hate crimes, something that hasn’t been true in the past decade. Additionally, serious physical assaults or assaults with deadly weapons dropped 38 percent.

Another good thing is that there are less young people committing these crimes. While juveniles once made up the largest group of perpetrators of hate crimes (40 percent in 2006), they’re now the smallest group at 14 percent.

Of all the hate crimes, 82 percent involved victims from four groups: African-Americans, gay men and lesbians, Latinos and Jews. While this has generally been true over the years, there is some good news: hate crimes targeting gay men have dropped 41 percent, and crimes targeting Jews have dropped 48 percent. But, it’s not all good news and not every group has seen a decline in aggression. Attacks on lesbians, transgender people, Asians, Middle Easterners and Protestants have all increased. There were 25 attacks against lesbians, up from 11 the previous year, while there were 19 reported attacks against transgender people, up from 13. There has also been no change in the number of anti-immigrant slurs used in the commission of crimes—there were 15 reported both in 2013 and 2012.

* * * *

Fake Job Applications Prove There’s Real LGBT Discrimination in Hiring

Jennifer and Michelle both apply for an administrative assistant position at Exxon Mobil in Illinois.

They went to the same high school and the same college, and they have a similar work history, though Jennifer got better grades and achieved management positions. Yet it’s Michelle who gets the callback for an interview.

The only other real difference between the two is that Jennifer has a history of LGBT activism.

If you haven’t already guessed, Jennifer and Michelle are the names on fake résumés that were submitted to eight different federal contractors as part of a recent study by the Equal Rights Center and Freedom to Work, an LGBT organization pushing for equality in the workplace. Although the applicants in the study are fictional, the results are very real: LGBT applicants were 23 percent less likely to get an interview than their less-qualified heterosexual counterparts.

* * * *

 Bush appointed Federal Judge strikes down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage

Judge John W. Sedwick has just ruled that a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona is unconstitutional. He also is refusing to stay his ruling, meaning his ruling is effective immediately, and same-sex couples may be able to marry soon if not today, based on Arizona law.

“A stay of this decision to allow defendants to appeal is not warranted.,” Judge Sedwick wrote. “It is clear that an appeal to the Ninth Circuit would not succeed.”

He also warned defendants to not appeal his ruling, as “the High Court will turn a deaf ear on any request for relief from the Ninth Circuit’s decision.”

The stay didn’t last long:

Arizona’s Attorney General will not appeal marriage ruling-weddings begin immediately!

Stating the Governor of Arizona “does not disagree” with his decision, AG Tom Horne told reporters that Arizona will not appeal today’s decision striking down his state’s marriage ban. He was adamant that while he disagrees with the court, as an attorney he is ethically bound to not file an appeal, because the chances of winning would be “zero.”

Horne stated that marriages can begin immediately. Arizona has no waiting period. The State will also immediately recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state he said.

Horne stated that “we” lost, and added he thinks the decision “should be made by the people and not by the courts.”

Horne pointed to the 14th Amendment as being “a good basis” for anti-discrimination laws based on race, but not gender. “The courts disagree with me.”

I’m sure he has a totally non-bigoted and secular reason for arguing that the 14 Amendment doesn’t apply to gender.  I wonder what Amendment he would point to as the basis for anti-discrimination laws based on age, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or sex…

* * * *

 Let’s play a game.  It’s a game called ‘Check the Definition Of…’, where I select a word and you go to the dictionary and find a definition of the word.  The word of today is ‘discrimination’.

The definition of discrimination:

treating a person or particular group of people differently,especially in a worse way from the way in which you treat other people, because of their skin colour, sex, sexuality, etc.

Gosh. That sure was easy.

Why the fuck then, does Florida Governor Rick Scott seem uncertain what discrimination is?  Does he not have a dictionary at home? Does he not have a computer? A smart phone? A tablet? (there a joke dangling there about Governor Scott and technology, as seen this week in the gubernatorial debates, but I’ll leave it alone).

Scott was asked in Wednesday’s debate if he believes banning same-sex marriage is “discriminatory.”

The Florida Republican governor just couldn’t manage a simple yes or no.

And his response, “none of us believe in discrimination” was so blatantly patronizing and just plain false, when he restated it, “I don’t believe in discrimination,” the audience actually booed.

Meanwhile, when Charlie Crist stated he supports same-sex marriage, the audience loudly cheered.

It must be so hard to say “Yes, I oppose discrimination against gay people. They should have the same rights as everyone else.”  But I guess that’s not in the GOP playbook. They’re going to stick to this anti-Marriage Equality plank til the bitter end.

Watch the video of Governor Scott being a fuckwit:

LGBT Link Round Up 10.17.14

I'm worthy of death

At least I am according to Gordon Klingenschmitt.  Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a photography studio’s refusal to photograph a same-sex wedding was unconstitutional.  In response, Klingenschmitt  (aka “Mr. Chaps”) said that Romans 1:32* should be printed out by Christian business owners on the back of their business cards. Oh, and those pesky gay people wanting photos from said Christian business? They should have Romans 1:32 printed on the back of all their photos. What a swell guy Mr. Chaps is, to advocate for killing people bc their sexuality differs from his. Nevermind that my being gay doesn’t affect him in any way, shape, or form.  Like many bigots he uses the Bible as a tool to justify his desire to oppress LGBT people.  He, like so many bigoted Christians, are never consistent. On the one hand, they’d have us believe that the Bible is so important and that following the tenets therein is of utmost importance.  I wonder if he follows all the other Biblical commandments, or if he is just cherry picking which rules to follow.  Nah, he’d never do that.

Romans 1:32

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Why anyone would want to worship or follow a deity that calls for the death of people for their sexuality is beyond me. Being gay harms no one. This is one of the problems with divine morality. It’s a form of morality that is divorced from human interactions. Instead of deciding on how moral an action is based on the potential harm done to others, divinely inspired morality is just irrational rules from on high.

I'm worthy of death

I’m worthy of death

At least I am according to Gordon Klingenschmitt.  Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a photography studio’s refusal to photograph a same-sex wedding was unconstitutional.  In response, Klingenschmitt  (aka “Mr. Chaps”) said that Romans 1:32* should be printed out by Christian business owners on the back of their business cards. Oh, and those pesky gay people wanting photos from said Christian business? They should have Romans 1:32 printed on the back of all their photos. What a swell guy Mr. Chaps is, to advocate for killing people bc their sexuality differs from his. Nevermind that my being gay doesn’t affect him in any way, shape, or form.  Like many bigots he uses the Bible as a tool to justify his desire to oppress LGBT people.  He, like so many bigoted Christians, are never consistent. On the one hand, they’d have us believe that the Bible is so important and that following the tenets therein is of utmost importance.  I wonder if he follows all the other Biblical commandments, or if he is just cherry picking which rules to follow.  Nah, he’d never do that.

Romans 1:32

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Why anyone would want to worship or follow a deity that calls for the death of people for their sexuality is beyond me. Being gay harms no one. This is one of the problems with divine morality. It’s a form of morality that is divorced from human interactions. Instead of deciding on how moral an action is based on the potential harm done to others, divinely inspired morality is just irrational rules from on high.

I’m worthy of death

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

* * * *

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.

* * * *

 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