when the status quo frustrates.

When The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

In honor of congressional candidate Mike Erickson, I thought I’d recycle this oldie-but-goodie–always worth a read!

When the Anti-Choice Choose
By Joyce Arthur

My three favorites:

“I’ve had several cases over the years in which the anti-abortion patient had rationalized in one way or another that her case was the only exception, but the one that really made an impression was the college senior who was the president of her campus Right-to-Life organization, meaning that she had worked very hard in that organization for several years. As I was completing her procedure, I asked what she planned to do about her high office in the RTL organization. Her response was a wide-eyed, ‘You’re not going to tell them, are you!?’ When assured that I was not, she breathed a sigh of relief, explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn’t want this to interfere with it.” (Physician, Texas)

“In 1990, in the Boston area, Operation Rescue and other groups were regularly blockading the clinics, and many of us went every Saturday morning for months to help women and staff get in. As a result, we knew many of the ‘antis’ by face. One morning, a woman who had been a regular ‘sidewalk counselor’ went into the clinic with a young woman who looked like she was 16-17, and obviously her daughter. When the mother came out about an hour later, I had to go up and ask her if her daughter’s situation had caused her to change her mind. ‘I don’t expect you to understand my daughter’s situation!’ she angrily replied. The following Saturday, she was back, pleading with women entering the clinic not to ‘murder their babies.’” (Clinic escort, Massachusetts)

“My first encounter with this phenomenon came when I was doing a 2-week follow-up at a family planning clinic. The woman’s anti-choice values spoke indirectly through her expression and body language. She told me that she had been offended by the other women in the abortion clinic waiting room because they were using abortion as a form of birth control, but her condom had broken so she had no choice! I had real difficulty not pointing out that she did have a choice, and she had made it! Just like the other women in the waiting room.” (Physician, Ontario)

You can read the entire article here.

Lisa’s Friday War Protest Video

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Metallica’s first video ever!

I post this in recognition of the 900-plus soldiers who have had to have at least one major amputation in the last five years as a direct result of serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

On the Death Penalty, Partisanship and the Rape of Children: Part Three

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I think I may have mentioned in a few previous posts, in passing, that my childhood and adolescence were perhaps unfortunate from both a socioeconomic perspective and from a family dysfunctionality perspective. I tend to not go into much more detail than that and when I do, it is usually both very sparsely presented and moved on from as quickly as possible, for various reasons. However, for the purposes of this post, I will choke out a little more information than usual, because it’s relevant.

Warning: Somewhat graphic descriptions of child abuse below the fold.


I’m Not Allowed There

Friday, June 27th, 2008

The other day, one of my friends was looking through my bookmarks, and remarked that I had a lot of feminist blogs linked. I responded, somewhat off-handedly, that “Yeah, the feminist blogsphere is pretty much the only place on the internet where I can read the comment threads”. He responded to that “Oh, so you’re looking for an echo chamber.”

We then had to go off to do something, so I couldn’t respond, but the comment really bugged me. It bugs me on multiple levels: the first one being that the feminist blogsphere is not “an echo chamber”. Anybody who has spent any length of time on the feminists blogs realize that there is a lot of disagreement, and differing opinnions and that there are vibrant debates that go on.

But, that’s not just what made me so upset. I was upset at the comment because I’m not allowed any where else on the internet. I would love to be able to go on YouTube and have a discussion about “Hi, I’m a Marvel. And I’m a DC“, or go on Fark.com and share some punny statments about people who jump off cliffs with cardboard wings, or talk about the recent Supreme Court cases at LawBlogs, or hell, even go on supposedly “progressive” websites like DailyKos and get some ideas about non-directly feminist stuff. But, I can’t, because inevitably, people start throwing out the “stupid bitches” the condescending language, the invitations to perform sex acts upon them, and the sexists “jokes” about Ann Coulter being a “tranny”. And I can not live with that, day in day out.

I am pushed out of these spaces by misgynony. And, according to this thread at Shakesville, I’m not the only one.

There will be, inevitably, voices that say it’s my own fault for not being able to “take the heat”, which I’m going to preemptively call shannigans on. I’ve been in heated debates before, strong ones where the person and I arguing had almost nothing in common. I like a good debate on what makes what: debate crystallizes beliefs, and helps us all arrive to a good conclusion. But, as a general point, I am not going to debate my existence as a human being deserving respect. It’s counter-productive, and soul-searing. But this means that I’m left out of what should be a public space.

On the Death Penalty, Partisanship and the Rape of Children: Part Two

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I think it’s worthwhile to take a moment and look at the definition of partisan:


Main Entry:
also par·ti·zan \ˈpär-tə-zən, -sən, -ˌzan, chiefly British ˌpär-tə-ˈzan\
Middle French partisan, from north Italian dialect partiźan, from part part, party, from Latin part-, pars part

1: a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance

In a post I put up earlier this week, I was rather snarkily harrassed for displaying the second half of the definition above…and fascinatingly enough, I was harrassed again today in a different post, for failing to display it. Now, clearly I’m either partisan or I’m not…there isn’t any gray area in terms of blind, prejudiced unreason. I am happy to report that in fact, not only do I not fit the second half of the definition, I don’t even fit the first. (Which I would have thought would have been a much more logical conclusion–the hypothesis that I must then be neither, rather than that I must be both! but hey. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.)

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m a registered Democrat, have been since the age of 20 and am reasonably content with it. However, I have no emotional investment in the fact. If I felt sufficiently motivated, I’d go register as a Republican, or a Green, or as nothing at all. I do not feel any particular loyalty toward or love for the Democratic party as an entity. In the same way, I feel no hatred toward the Republican party as an entity. Basically, I see them as two “clubs,” and really the only games in town if you actually want to do something that has any real effect in the great game that is American politics–if that is what you want, you have to “belong” to one of the clubs. So I picked the one that has as its stated goals…I’d prefer to say achieved or even vigorously pursued but I think I must stick to the much more accurate stated…ideals that are closest to the ones I want to be ascendant in the world in which I must live.

Because I fail at blind, prejudiced and unreasoning allegiance to the one club (and therefore blind, prejudiced and unreasoning rejection of the other) I am capable of two great (I may be injecting a little sarcasm into that adjective) feats. One, I do not fail to see the flaws, hypocrisies, inconsistencies and artificialities displayed by any individual(s) representing my chosen club; and two, I am able to perceive it when a member or four of the other club has something worthwhile, important, true or valid to say. Even more delicately, I am able to successfully interpret slanting of information by both sides, even regardless of the direction of the slant.

I find rational thought a relief. Don’t you?


On the Death Penalty, Partisanship and the Rape of Children: Part One

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I am leery of the death penalty for two reasons, one philosophical, one brutally concrete.

The philosophical reason is that I object to the State, that amorphous and unaccountable collection of legislation, having the absolute power of life and death over any individual. The State already has a fair amount of control over our daily lives, sometimes with our explicit consent, sometimes only with the implied consent of I’m still choosing to live here so I guess I have to..? And I swallow a lot of things that fall short of taking an individual’s life, as non-mortal injuries carry with them the chance (in varying degrees of course) of recovery and restoration–however, your life is the one thing you can’t ever recover from losing. There is no recompense for that. When one individual takes another’s life, he or she has a set of consequences to face for having done so, and I am not just referring to legal ones–it is right that there should be a price exacted from anyone who does the ultimate, unrecoverable injury to another. In the case of the State, no recompense can ever be exacted; no one can be held guilty; no price can ever be paid–society did it! Whatever that means, and it can mean anything and everything and boils down every time to mean precisely whatever the person using the word wants it to mean. (Other words that have become so soggy and fluid are “government” and “culture” and “values.” It amazes me sometimes that those words are still in the dictionary. The way they are most commonly used robs them of any objective meaning at all.)

The brutally concrete reason is the complete imbalance in whom it is applied to in terms of race and gender. Even if it were something we were all philosophically prepared to accept, obviously that it is used disproportionately against a specific flavor of citizen is completely unacceptable.

However, you may have noticed, I do not object to the death penalty on any moral grounds–I don’t claim I think it’s wrong always, for any reason whatsoever, for one individual to kill another. There are instances of individuals killing other individuals that do not deeply disturb me, though I’m always saddened that any situation ever deteriorates to the point where that’s a viable or even the most viable solution. It IS sad.

Is it because I am consumed with “bloodlust?” Is it because I don’t “respect human life equally?”

Um, definitely not the first one. As a matter of fact, I am far more immune to bloodlust than most Americans I know. I do not watch reality TV, nor do I watch any sport that is centered around one person pounding on another while froth-spitting crowds roar them on–in short, watching real people inflict pain and humiliation of any degree upon each other not only does not attract me, it actively repulses me. That is “bloodlust,” my friends. I agree that it may be a significant part of our society, but it isn’t any part of me.

As for the second–that’s both true and not true. I do not respect all human life equally, but it has nothing to do with my feelings on the death penalty. I do not hold every speck of life that happens to have Homo sapiens DNA in its cell nucleus as being of equal worth, which is why I support reproductive choice, living wills, physician-assisted suicide and the concept of “brain-dead.” My philosophy here holds, though, that what I personally value the lives of others at is completely meaningless; my “valuing” of them should have no impact upon their continued existence whatsoever. The only “valuation” that should have that impact is their own. The only individual who gets to set a value on any individual’s human life is that individual. Period. In the cases where the human life in question is not capable of setting value upon its own life because it lacks the cognitive ability to do so, such as pre-viable fetuses and anyone at any stage of development who does not have a functioning brain, the person who is most affected by the continued existence or lack thereof of that individual gets to set the value on that life. Period.

In terms of a child rapist and his eight-year-old victim, say, I would consider both of them able to set their own value on their own lives and those values are the only ones that should ever count.

So, I am unhappy enough about the death penalty to consistently oppose it, regardless of the “worth” I feel any other individual has. However, if someone I personally find to have little to no value drops dead, I don’t even pretend to be upset about it or attempt to work up any feelings of “oh but we’re all EQUALLY valuable as human lives!” It’d be a lie. Even there, I make an automatic distinction between the method of death and the fact that the death results in the absence of that person from Earth–I am always repelled by and opposed to any deliberate and avoidable infliction of pain upon one human being by another and do not ever find any moral excuse for that. (Back to why I don’t watch all that sadistic crap on TV and how deeply horrible I find the practice of torture.) However, in regards to the bare fact of the sudden absence of certain human lives? I don’t care and in some cases, I think the world is an improved environment from when that person was alive. No doubt cold, but quite true.

Next: The Joys (or lack thereof) of Partisanship

Wait, this isn’t from the Onion? Fuck.

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Yet another set of relics from the post-satire age:

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As the keychain says, truly “It don’t GITMO better than this.”

Welcome to “Taliban Towers” at Guantanamo Bay, the most ghoulishly distasteful tourist destination on the planet. As these astonishing mementoes show, the US authorities are promoting the world’s most notorious prison camp as a cheap hideaway for American sunseekers — a revelation that has drawn international anger and condemnation.

Just yards from the shelves of specially branded mugs and cuddly toys, nearly 300 “enemy combatants” lie sweltering in a waking nightmare.

It is six years since foreign prisoners, many captured in Afghanistan, were first taken to this US-occupied corner of Cuba. Yet even now, no charges have been brought against them.

While the detainees lie incarcerated, visitors can windsurf, take boat trips and go fishing for grouper, tuna, red snapper and swordfish.

Hey, in all fairness, if you want to take your family out for a little dunk in the water, does it really matter if there’s a few detainees getting their own “dunk in the water” a few hundred feet away? Where is the line where it’s magically OKAY to start having fun? One mile away? 50 miles? (Don’t say 500 miles, or you’re already to Miami.)


I Really Like Other Planets

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Water ice and evidence of historic rainfall on Mars.

Smaller, rocky exoplanets near the habitable zone around their stars are being found. For a totally awesome exoplanet slideshow, click here.

(Because I need to think about something other than people right now. Ugh!)

Hey, child rapists: Everything’s coming up roses!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

A Massachusetts politician and defense attorney has touched off a firestorm with his shocking public vow to torment and “rip apart” child rape victims who take the witness stand if the state legislature passed stiff mandatory sentences for child sex offenders.

Rep. James Fagan, a Democrat, made the comments during debate last month on the state House floor.

“I’m gonna rip them apart,” Fagan said of young victims during his testimony on the bill. “I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.”

Excuse me while I go puke now.

Guns in schools

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Whatever side one falls on in the gun control debate, most people agree that handguns should not be in schools. It’s just a bad mix—volatile, trapped kids and deadly firearms. Any sane person ought to feel a bit uncomfortable at the thought of guns in a high school.

Unfortunately, sane people aren’t in charge in my city.

Sticking police in schools is a bad idea on principle, but sticking armed police in schools is pure, unadulterated lunacy. We have enough problems with police shooting at teenagers of colour—why put them in a situation where they have even more opportunity to do that?

But of course, it all comes down to police chief Bill Blair’s inferiority complex:

“Quite frankly, as you can probably guess by my constant appearance, I believe in police officers in uniform,” he told a press conference this morning.

“I want the people of Toronto to see their police. I want them to have a relationship with the entire police service that is based on trust and respect. And my police officers are armed.”

That’s very nice for you, sir, that you believe in being formal. But we’re talking about arming crazed thugs who will be around children all day. Children—not criminals. How is anyone supposed to get an education with an armed cop just outside the door? Especially, say someone who is a refugee from a war-torn country or a police state, or from an impoverished region here, someone with every reason to fear large armed men carrying guns.

There’s a lot of talk about making schools safe and welcoming in Ontario. That’s all you hear about when you’re becoming a teacher. Apparently, though, that’s been amended to “safe and welcoming…or else.”

I understand the reasoning behind the decision.

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

And I’m not a big fan of capital punishment in general.

But can I still wish he was dead?

Child rapists can’t be executed, Supreme Court rules

The ruling stemmed from the case of Patrick Kennedy, who has been on Louisiana’s death row since 2003, when he was sentenced to be executed for raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter.

Kennedy was convicted of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in her bed. The attack caused internal injuries and bleeding to the child, requiring extensive surgery, as well as severe emotional trauma, Louisiana prosecutors said.

…and now, some GOOD news

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

From the best of all possible worlds.

Funny how getting good news — even when it’s completely fabricated — can make you feel so… well… good.