March 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
March 13, 2011 § 3 Comments
Update: Harty has resigned!
[TW for eliminationism, disablism]
It came out a few days ago, but this has still been eating at me. Apparently one of the Republican state representatives in New Hampshire has advocated shipping “defective people” like the homeless and “the crazy people” to Siberia (or the freezing-and-dying equivalent thereof in America) in order to combat “overpopulation.” The Huffington Post and a few other places have reported on it, but relatively few people seem to be calling him out on it, and the Republican House Speaker William O’Brian has gone on the record saying that although he should have chosen his words more carefully, the 91-year-old has basically earned the right to say what he wants.
Well, not really. Martin Harty, the representative in question, does not deny saying that “I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.” I don’t care if you’ve fought Nazis–the enemy of my enemy is not my friend if they espouse basically the same beliefs (as well as those of Stalin, ironically enough.) The fact that you can say this without being immediately asked to resign is disgraceful.
I was thinking of writing a letter — a real, pen-and-paper letter — to this man. It was going to try to touch on all the basic measures of humanity–compassion, empathy, kindness. But honestly, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Harty hasn’t shown an iota of these things, and it would be a waste of my time to attempt to reach the humanity of someone who doesn’t have any. Harty has every right to his hateful and frankly evil beliefs, and I doubt a heartfelt letter from anyone is going to change them. Harty is the real-life equivalent of the trolls who go on autism support boards and tell people to kill themselves. Engaging them on a personal level does nothing but give them the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve hurt you. Don’t feed the troll.
If we want any results, we’re going to have to go over his head. There’s a petition circulating right now to ask for his resignation — I don’t know how much difference an out-of-state signature like mine will make, but it can’t hurt to go sign it here. It might also be worth an email or letter to part of the Republican Party of New Hampshire, which can be reached at this page.
What’s strange to me, though, is that we’ve more or less begun advocating a kind of utilitarian works-righteousness in our measures of who does and does not deserve to live. Here’s the response from the other party in that conversation, Sharon Omand.
“[The mentally ill] are productive people,” she said. “You can’t throw them away.”
Omand runs a community mental health program, and I have nothing but respect for what she’s doing. But this response strikes me as playing by Harty’s rules–acknowledging that the only people who deserve to be supported are those who can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, who can be “productive people.” This is the logic of the jungle, the Hobbesian state of nature. It’s not the logic of a country that has made a commitment to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” for everyone–mentally ill or not. If we judge people only by their “productivity” (which, in this man’s terms, is dictated by how much money they’ve made), then what’s a social contract for?
What’s more, by doing so we accept the logic of people who have been defending him: If you make enough money, if you’re self-supporting enough, if you join the military, you have a free license to support any monstrous cause you wish. This is “might makes right” at its most basic level, and it’s loathsome. Productivity does not excuse evil.
A last note: Harty drags Isaac Asimov into this, claiming that he’s been influenced by his work on population explosion. Leaving aside the fact that this makes no sense — the American homeless and mentally ill are a laughably small part of the world population — it’s interesting to note that Asimov had a special note for people who believed in culling: Anyone who advocates a plague or other way of killing people to solve overpopulation, he said, must be the first to volunteer.
February 10, 2011 § 2 Comments
The Center sued the FDA in 2005 for failing to grant over-the-counter status to emergency contraception (a.k.a Plan B) against the advice of its scientific experts and in violation of its own procedures and regulations. In 2006, the FDA agreed to make Plan B available without a prescription, but only to women 18 and over and only behind the pharmacy counter.
Plan B is now available over-the-counter for anyone age 17 or over, but remains inaccessible to those under 17 even though “medical and scientific consensus provides no rationale for age restrictions on Plan B.”
Today, emergency contraception is available without a prescription, but only for women age 17 and older. Pharmacies and clinics must keep it behind the counter and anyone seeking to buy it must show government issued identification proving their age in order to buy it without a prescription.
These intrusive restrictions, unprecedented for drugs with over-the-counter status, make it harder and more stigmatizing for consumers to get the contraception during its most effective window.
These restrictions are undeniably motivated by political and social pressures that seek to legislate sexuality. (I’ll quote myself: “It’s more than obvious that the conservative movement to restrict access is not about the health and safety of teenage women, but about legislating who is and isn’t allowed to have sex.”) Never mind that the political leaders who restrict Plan B access, which prevents conception after unprotected sex, are the same people who restrict abortion access — abortion being what women might logically turn to when faced with an unplanned pregnancy that using Plan B might have prevented in the first place.
But this morning brought some good news:
Moments ago, Teva, the manufacturer of the emergency contraceptive (EC) Plan B, announced that it filed an application with the FDA requesting that EC be available over-the-counter without a prescription for women of all ages.
While it’s phenomenal that Teva has put this pressure on the FDA, their request will only affect restrictions on their specific emergency contraception product. In an email, the Center for Reproductive Rights emphasized: “We want the FDA to know that it is still required to obey the law and end all restrictions once and for all –- not on a piece meal basis.”
February 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
(Trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault.)
If you’ve been spending any time on the feminist Internet lately, you’ve likely read about HR3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Besides codifying the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits almost all federal funding for abortion and vastly limits the access of low-income women to this procedure, the bill would all but remove the current exceptions for rape and incest. Even more problematically, it does so by redefining the only “acceptable” rape as “forcible” rape, something which would effectively bar the majority of rape survivors from receiving help aborting their rapist’s child.
When we talk about the “pro-rape lobby,” this is what we mean. It’s not enough for women who have been raped by a partner, acquaintance, or even stranger in a way that doesn’t comply with this laughably limited definition of rape (while, say, unconscious, drugged, or held down by someone much stronger) to be told that they should have fought back harder, should have watched their drink better, shouldn’t have gone out at all or let their guard down around their closest friends. It’s now going to be enshrined in law. I didn’t think there could be anything more outright evil than denying medical procedures to survivors of sexual assault, but this is almost it: They’re effectively telling people that they do provide funds for survivors, but you weren’t raped.
There are a lot of other reasons why this bill is terrible, many of which have been laid out over at Tiger Beatdown, where Sady is running her wonderful #DearJohn campaign. So what do we do about it now?
Really, in a liberal democracy, there are about four things we can do. The first, obviously, is vote. The nearest election might not be near enough, however, and since this is a blog for young feminists, many of us can’t vote, or at least can’t vote yet. So what do we do? The other three things.
The second is to contact your elected officials. If you’re in the US, find your representative and write them. Call them. Do both. Don’t threaten — we’re better than that. Just explain why the bill hurts women and rape survivors, and why the issue matters to you. Even if you can’t vote yet, let them know that you will be in the closest election.
The third is to make yourself heard. Minority groups like the Tea Party can dominate the national discussion through violent rhetoric and hate — but we can amplify our own voices as well. Follow this guide to joining the #DearJohn campaign — it’s a first step to aggregating the opinions of all the people against HR3. Find your local newspaper and write a letter to the editor — a real, physical letter. If you have access to readers through a blog, post on it. Most importantly, talk to the people you know about the resolution. You don’t have to start an argument or take on a group of people you know are vehemently anti-choice (unless you want to), but make sure that even the pro-choice people you know are aware of the implications of the resolution and why they should be against it.
The last is to consider donating some money to a pro-choice campaign or access fund. Even if we win on this, there are still many women who desperately want abortions — but can’t get the money for them. Try searching for your state’s abortion access fund — many, including DC and New York, have them. Donate to Planned Parenthood or NARAL. Even if you can’t give much, every little bit can help someone in need.
January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
by KATIE E.
Story via Crooks and Liars.
I think it’s highly unlikely any of you have yet to hear the details of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and almost as unlikely that any of you didn’t hear the details about Christina Taylor-Green.
Before the inevitable cries occur, yes, I think the shooting was a tragedy. I think the death of this clearly very bright, enthusiastic young woman was a tragedy. I think the media was right in covering her life and her story.
But frankly? It cannot be denied that Taylor-Green received the attention she did because her death didn’t reflect as badly on the rhetoric and policies we hold so dearly in the United States. You know, the ones that routinely lead to people of color being attacked?
Brisenia Flores was nine. Same age as Taylor-Green. She lived in a town on the Arizona border with her parents and sister. Shawna Forde led a vigilante unit who patrolled U.S. borders with weapons. For patriotic “fun,” she says.
Forde decided to lead her absurd group in attacking supposed drug smugglers and using their money to start a “border race war.” One thing or another led to them heading for the Flores home, which had no drugs whatsoever in it.
They entered the home under false pretenses, leading Mr. Flores into believing that they were law-enforcement officials. When he questioned their motives, the group immediately shot him fatally in the head and went on to wound his wife, Gina Gonzalez. Bresenia pleaded for her life, but she was also shot fatally in the head. (Her sister was at a sleepover at the time.)
Brisenia and Mr. Flores were murdered because of the color of their skin. Someone has lost their father, daughter, sister, and husband because a group of people decided they looked too un-American.
Where were the headlines? Where were the feature stories about what Bresenia liked, what she did at school, what she wanted to do with her life? Where are the interviews with her family? Why wasn’t the president calling on us to make the future the way she would have wanted it?
It’s the simple, ugly truth: As Nathan at Dissenting Leftist put it, it’s only a national tragedy when a politician dies. And I’d like to throw in that yes, it’s often only a national tragedy when someone who’s white dies. Or when someone who’s death would not spark more opposition to current immigration policies. Someone who’s death would never inspire us to maybe change our rhetoric about the undocumented workers we, as a nation, so love to virulently hate.
What killed Brisenia and her family? Racism. Xenophobia. Hateful rhetoric. Constant promotion of illegal immigration as the worst thing that’s happened to this country, and even more promotion of the idea that anyone with brown skin must be a part of it.
And now, for the same reasons, her death is being put aside for ones that reflect on the U.S. a little better. After all, that’s always where the government and the mainstream media value.
December 17, 2010 § Leave a comment
More than 20 years after his film Roger and Me, about Flint’s connections to General Motors, and how the city is affected by outsourcing, Michael Moore still has strong geological and emotional ties to the eastern side of the state of Michigan. He mentioned Flint in Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11, and was clearly passionate about shedding light on the disparity of wealth within Flint. Hell, his Twitter handle is @MMFlint. In his films and interviews, he frequently is seen wearing apparel with the logos of several Michigan colleges, including Michigan State University, and Eastern Michigan University. I wonder if Moore has visited Eastern Michigan University, or spoken at the school recently. If he did, he may have heard about what happened in 2006 to Eastern student Laura Dickinson.
Laura Dickinson, a student at EMU was raped and murdered in her dorm room in December 2006. EMU originally told her family that she died of natural causes, and it was only after a suspect was arrested that the school informed Dickinson’s family that her death was a homocide. EMU was fined for violating the Beverly Clery Act (which requires colleges and universities to report felonies that happen on campus), settled with the Dickinson family out of court, and the President, Vice President, and Public Safety Director were fired. Dickinson’s death, EMU’s cover-up, and the murder trial were on the news constantly, and brought the kind of publicity that a small town in West Michigan does not want. At the same time, the Dickinson family held several benefits, with proceeds going to causes that Laura supported. Friends and neighbors stepped in to help run the family coffee shop during the months after her death.
It was hard to hear TV and radio reports about Laura’s death, because I knew her family, spent numerous hours in their coffeeshop, and it was sad that instead of being in the news because State Grounds supported the community by letting musicians perform in the space, or raised money for important causes. They were on the news because their daughter had died, and the institution that should have been looking out for her safety failed to protect her, and decided to lie to her family.
When I hear the phrase “travesty of justice”, I think about how EMU treated the grieving Dickinson family. I don’t think about Assange turning himself in, being jailed for a short period of time, being released on bail, and spending his holiday in an English mansion. It isn’t so much Moore posting bail for Assange (it’s his money, he can waste it however he wants to) that pisses me off, it’s Moore’s going on “Countdown With Keith Shouts-A-Lot”, and claiming that his donation stems from a belief that Assange was “set up” and that his complainants are merely upset groupies/”honeypots”/CIA informants/otherwise hell bent on destroying WikiLeaks. This is a criminal case, and instead of trying Assange and his accusers in the Court of the Internet (which is highly susceptible to severe cases of trolling), we should let the courts do their job. And we should reserve judgement about the veracity of the accusations until all parties must testify under oath.
Moore and Olbermann have been silent about their fantastically insensitive comments. I understand that having to explain their justification behind saying that Assange’s work was more important than having to do something as pesky as answer for a crime he has been accused of (and spreading misinformation about Assange’s accusers) must be hard. How about they meet with the Dickinson family, and ask them what it was like to not only have a daughter die after being assaulted, but to have a university lie to them about her death? If Moore doesn’t particularly care about the whole “sexual assault is bad” thing, it would at least provide another example of why cover-ups, and the spreading of lies, by any person or organization, can be devastating and hurtful.
And then maybe, just maybe, Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann will realize why dismissing rape accusations comes off as hurtful, insensitive, pompous, and a slew of other unpleasant adjectives. And then oh, I don’t know, donate at least a little bit of their fortunes to RAINN?
November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’m done with school for the quarter, and so I’m excited about actually getting back in the blogging swing of things. However, I needed a clear subject to write about, so I’m starting a series in which I point out the massive amounts of complete B.S. on the Willing to Wait website. Why am I choosing Willing to Wait? Because it’s an abstinence only program based in West Michigan (where I’m from) and If I can, in any miniscule way, encourage a more mature and accurate dialouge about sexuality, then I will.
My plan is to specifically go through different categories on their website, and explain why their content is B.S. Next post is going to be about their “Pregnancy and Birth Control” page. If you are currently on a birth control regimen, and would like to tell me about your experience on birth control, the side effects, you’ve experienced, and any challenges in refilling/paying for it, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will not publish submitter’s names or contact information.
The most disturbing thing is that according to the website, the Willing to Wait headquarters are just down the street from the Planned Parenthood. Like many other abstinence only programs and “crisis pregnancy centers”, Willing to Wait has no qualms in deceiving students and adults, and scaring them away from getting medically accurate information.