Don't burn the place down while I'm gone!

I'm headed down to SoCal this weekend for my cousin's wedding.  Sadly, there will be no open bar.  (It's a Mormon wedding.)  But it means I'll be gone from Thursday morning through to Monday night.  No new posts while I'm away, and apologies if I'm slow responding to comments, since I'm not taking my laptop, just my phone.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, darlings!  I'll see y'all next week.  Try not to burn the place down while I'm gone, ok kids? ;-)

San Francisco's Circumcision Ban

The City of San Francisco will have on its next ballot a measure that would ban circumcisions performed on minors in that jurisdiction.  There is nothing in the proposed language that would allow for religious exemptions for Jewish or Muslim families wishing to circumcise their sons for religious reasons. 

The legal blogs are all over this, discussing it in terms of both parental rights and religious rights.  (It's honestly pretty dense reading, I didn't get through all of it, and they reference quite a number of other cases.  But here's a good roundup for the curious.)  I had declared myself cautiously in favor of the ban in conversations with friends/family, but in the ensuing discussions, I discovered I actually felt far stronger about it than I'd thought.

It still bothers me a little that there's no religious exemption.  Being of a minority faith which is still struggling in many ways to be treated fairly under the law, I find the idea of laws that ban a practice originating in a particular religion to be troubling. 

On the other hand, the vast majority of circumcisions in the U.S. are not done for religious reasons, but for reasons like "not looking different," or "so he looks like his father," or "just because that's what's done."  Given that circumcision offers only minimal, mostly potential health benefits (the US Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision) and is generally a cosmetic procedure, why is it acceptable for parents to choose such an intimate bodily modification for an infant incapable of consent?  When a mother was featured on TV last week for having had her 8-year-old daughter given Botox injections, there was a righteously outraged wave of condemnation.  How can we logically condemn one parent for having a minimally-invasive, semi-permanent (Botox injections fade after about six months, IIRC) cosmetic procedure done on a child, while accepting a much more intimate and absolutely permanent *surgical* cosmetic procedure performed on days-old infants without comment?

And I even find it harder and harder to advocate for a religious exemption, the more I consider it.  Those who would have female "circumcision" - more accurately described as female genital mutilation - performed on their children are not permitted to do so (it's legally banned in California, at least), deep-held cultural values notwithstanding.  Which makes it logically inconsistent to advocate upholding the ban on FGM without exception, while wanting a religious exemption for a circumcision ban.

So I suppose in the end, it comes to this:  I don't believe parents should be making permanently-body-altering decisions for their children, period.  I don't care what religion the parents hew to, or what their cultural beliefs dictate they do to their kids.  It's unethical, to perform such procedures on those too young to independently decide for themselves.  If people choose to have body modifications made as adults, that's their prerogative.  If you want to get circumcised, go for it.  Have fun.  But something like that should require active, informed consent, and an infant is absolutely incapable of giving such.

What do you think?  I'd like to hear other perspectives on this.


Your Rights End Where Mine Begin

How is this a difficult concept to grasp?  I would think it would be pretty simple.  Your right to do something ends where my right not to have my life interfered with in some way begins.

But apparently this guy doesn't get the idea.  This preacher went to a local DMV in a town in Southern California one morning before it opened, and began reading the Bible and preaching to the people standing in line waiting for the office to open.  After being asked to stop by a security guard and refusing, he, and the two elders of his church who had come with him, were arrested for trespassing and interfering with a public business.  (Personally, I think he should have been cited for public nuisance, but that's just me.)

Cue, of course, the whining of the Poor! Persecuted! Christians! about how the ebil gub'mint is coming for their Bibles and soon it will be illegal to be Christian in this country.  One of the linked articles is headlined, not kidding, "Christians Arrested for Reading the Bible in Public".  Which, while technically factually correct, conveys rather a different message than what actually happened, which was that they were arrested for proselytizing, at a captive audience, on government property.

It gets better, of course.  In the end, the three jackasses weren't actually charged, and now they're suing the state for infringement on their religious freedom and free speech rights!
What is this I don't even.  Look, dudes, your right to free speech and freedom of religion does not include the right to harass people waiting in line at the goddamn DMV.  That's just not how it fucking works.  And no, as one of the linked bloggers claimed, the people in line couldn't "just" go away and come back when it opened.  Have you been to a California DMV lately?  If you don't have an appointment and you arrive after it opens, expect to wait at least an hour before you even TALK to anyone, and gods help you if there are more forms to fill out, because yes, they will make you wait through the line AGAIN to bring the forms back up (unless you get a really nice DMV person; they're out there, they really are.  Sometimes.).  So the only way to get in and out quickly, if you wanted to do anything else with your day or if you have an appointment or have to work later, is to get there at least half an hour before they open and wait in the pre-opening line.  It's completely unfair to force people to choose between coming back later and thus spending twice as long at the DMV, and listening to you force your religion on them. 

Your right to share your religion ends where their right to do business with the DMV without suffering religious harassment begins.  Because that's what public preaching to a captive audience is: religious harassment.  You give them no choice in whether to listen to you or not - that being the definition of a captive audience - and force them to listen to your religious dogma, which they may or may not share.  That is not what is meant by either "freedom of religion" or "freedom of speech".  You are absolutely, completely and totally making up out of whole cloth this imagined "right" to proselytize in this manner.  It does not exist.  Period the end.

(I can't decide if my lolsob is more lol or more sob at this; referring to captive audiences as "organic congregations" is just...just...words fail me.  Fuck, I hope that was supposed to be a joke...)

Brown v Plata: The Humanity Of Prisoners

To put it bluntly, California's justice/prison system is utterly, completely broken.  Thanks to what is widely acknowledged as the most draconian three-strikes law (on your third conviction of a felony, the sentence is life imprisonment, period, no exceptions) in the nation, our prisons are overloaded with mostly-nonviolent offenders, most of them convicted of various drug possession or sale offenses.  The state prison system was built to house around 80,000 prisoners; it currently houses nearly 150,000.  Overcrowding of such epic proportions, combined with constant budget cuts, has led to a situation in which "on average, an inmate in one of California's prisons needlessly dies every six to seven days due to constitutional deficiencies in the medical delivery system."

SCOTUS has now stepped in with a ruling yesterday, Brown v Plata, which holds that the level of overcrowding and resulting deficiencies in care violate the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  That's how bad it is.   The document describes unthinkable, mass-storage conditions, like cramming 200 prisoners into a gymnasium supervised by only two or three officers.  It's just horrifying.

It made me remember a project I did, years ago in college, about health-care delivery systems in the prison system.  (I took a course on "structures in clinical health care" or something like that as an "Oh, shit, I need credits." sort of elective thing.)  The rates of Hep C were unthinkable, treatment was scarce, prisoners who were entering more or less healthy were leaving with lifelong diseases that the system had neither bothered to prevent nor treat.  I was horrified to read about the complete disregard with which prisoners in my state were being treated - or rather, not treated.

And yet I remember a conversation with a coworker and a customer and I on a slow day last year, still fresh in my mind, where the customer was griping about how "those damn prisoners get organ transplants paid for by my tax dollars," and "they get better medical care than I do."  And I said, first of all, that's not true, at least in this state; the medical care in our prison system is awful-to-nonexistent.  But that aside, why shouldn't prisoners receive necessary medical care?  We're not talking about cosmetic boob jobs here, we're talking about necessary-to-survive medications and operations and other forms of care.  At which point my coworker jumped in and sided with the customer, saying that it's just not fair and they fucked up so they don't deserve anything (heavily paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it). 

And I think of the criminal-in-chief of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, too.  His tent cities in the desert and his chain gangs, and how strangely, and horrifyingly, he has remained in power for nearly twenty years now.  That people defend him, and reelect him, over and over, because his awful human rights abuses are "only" against prisoners (and immigrants, and anybody non-white, really) and they "deserve" it. 

Why is this okay?  Why is it commonly accepted that being convicted of a crime - without knowing what the crime was, mind you.  People end up in prison for rape and murder, yes, but also for drug possession or other nonviolent offenses, and I hope people aren't trying to make those out to be equally bad - means you deserve whatever kind of treatment those in power dish out?  Do we really want a culture where one bad decision is enough to completely strip a person of hir humanity, hir rights to decency and a certain minimum standard of treatment?  I'm sure it's only a coincidence that these views coincide with a "justice" system that is heavily racist, so most of the time when one talks about "prisoners" it's also a sort of code for "lower-class PoC", right? /sarcasm 

I can understand being angry at the fact that, for many people, prison healthcare *is* actually better than what we can access on the outside.  It's galling to know that while I, having never committed a crime, struggle along without access to any healthcare at all, people who have committed crimes are having their health care paid for on the state's dime.  So I get that envy and anger, I really do.  But I don't think the solution is to heap further abuse on the prison population.  It's not their fault our government has shitty priorities.  When there is an inequality between haves and have-nots, the solution is not to tear down those who have, it's to raise up those who have not.  And you know, maybe if we provided universal healthcare and a living wage and decent educational opportunities, not only would the people on the outside not have to be jealous of medical care afforded to prisoners, a lot of people in prison, who turned to the least-worst path available to them despite the illegality of that path, might not *be* in prison in the first place. 


Scott Walker: Privatize ALL The Things!

(For those not familiar with the "___ ALL the things!" joke, I direct your attention here.)

Scott Walker, Wisconsin's asshole-in-chief, best known for his lying scumbag tactics* during the union-busting fight a couple months ago, is back hard at work on his job of undercutting the government's ability to provide services.  This time, it's through an expansion of the proven-to-be-a-failure school vouchers program in the state, while simultaneously cutting funding for public schools.  No, seriously.  Studies and testing have shown that the students in the voucher program actually did *worse* than their counterparts in public school.  And yet Walker wants to cut funding to the better-performing program and pump public funds into the worse-performing program.

But it gets better!  Not only does he want to cut funding and expand the failed voucher program, he wants to exempt voucher students from the testing and studies that revealed the program's failure!

Dear Republicans:  You are entitled to your own opinion.  You are not entitled to your own facts.  The proper response to a study showing that your pet project isn't working like you insisted it would, is not to say "Well FINE then, we just WON'T STUDY IT ANYMORE, OKAY?  (But let's give more money to it anyway.)"

*Sealing protesters inside the Capitol building, calling in the police, sheriff dept, and even the National fucking Guard to try to intimidate protesters, insisting the union-busting bill (I typed that "union-busting bull" the first time. Ahem, paging Freud.) was absolutely! necessary! for the budget! during this time of fiscal! crisis! and then, when it became clear that wasn't going to fly, blatantly violating procedural rules and forcing through a vote on the union-busting as a separate bill in less than 5 minutes in a secret meeting, among other abuses of power.


Bryan Fischer's Godwin on Steroids

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."
              - Godwin's Law, the main corollary of which is that the first person to invoke a Nazi comparison loses by forfeit.  I also use it as a verb, as in "to Godwin a discussion".

If we were holding to that standard, Bryan Fischer (and indeed the whole Teabagger movement) would have lost the debate by Godwinning long ago.  However, on Tuesday Fischer, as he does with so many things, cranked the Godwin up to 11 with this epic screed [TW gratuitous Nazi comparisons and vicious anti-gay fearmongering]:
I mean, ladies and gentlemen, they are Nazis. Homosexual activists, when it comes to freedom of speech, are Nazis. When it comes to freedom of religion, they are Nazis. ... Ladies and gentlemen, they are Nazis. Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They'll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany.
Wow.  Just...wow.  I mean, SIX instances of the word Nazi in six sentences.  Clearly Fischer means business.  Srs bizness.  Of the bearing-no-resemblance-to-reality-or-logic variety.

The AFA yet again tried to get its pet runaway train under control; of course, since it was on his radio show, they couldn't just edit it like they do to his blog posts.  So instead, they simply removed the video from their archive.  Unfortunately, as I keep trying to remind people, once you're on the internet as having said something, it's on the record forever, no matter how much deleting or redacting you try to do.

Of course, Fischer didn't help matters by going on another unhinged rant Wednesday about DADT, how the "homosexual lobby" (immaculately decorated, natch) is "just like the Nazis", and how any soldier who "[says] a word of complaint about homosexual behavior" will be, I'm not even fucking kidding, "sent to a reeducation camp ... to get your brain washed ... you're not getting out of that room until you crumble and admit you support sexual deviancy ... that's where it's going in the military."

How long before AFA finally wises up and drops this fuckbag like a ton of bricks?  How long before right-wing politicians stop appearing on his show?  Why the fuck is anyone fucking legitimizing such raw hatred and bigotry?


Congressional Republicans: Still Looking For Jobs In Uteruses

In contrast to their purported focus on the revitalizing the economy and creating jobs, Congressional Republicans continue to make the intimate details of uteruses and the decisions of those who have them their top priorities.  For bonus hypocrisy points, this attack comes in the form of an overriding federal-level piece of legislation designed to standardize [lack-of-]access laws across state borders, yet is proposed by a member of the party which loves squawking about states' rights when it comes to things like gun control and health insurance regulations.

So what is it they want to restrict this time? 

Minors' access to abortion services*.  This new bill, proposed by Republican senator John Boozman (AR) and five co-sponsors, would institute a nationwide requirement of parental notification before a minor may get an abortion.  According to the text of the bill, this means both parents, via certified mail with delivery receipt and "restricted delivery" (meaning the named recipient must be the one to sign for it; some quick googling tells me that means each notification would cost about $10, plus time for a staffer to handle the mailings and such), and a 4-day waiting period between notification and the abortion itself.  It would also require that, if the parent chooses to seek a court order preventing the abortion, the court issue an injunction against it, disallowing the abortion "until the issue has been adjudicated and the judgment is final."  How long does that take?  Anyone more familiar with court proceedings than I?  The bill also mandates a $1 million fine and 10 years imprisonment for any doctor found in violation.  There is a medical-emergency clause, and one for "clear and convincing evidence" of parental abuse - which as I read that, leaves it basically up to the doctor to determine what constitutes "convincing evidence" - but none for rape or molestation by someone other than the parent, not even a judicial-bypass option.

[TW: mention of hypothetical rape and forced pregnancy scenario]

So.  Imagine a teenage girl, let's say 17.  Old enough to make her own decisions for the most part, in her senior year of high school, applying to colleges, all that fun stuff.  Mere months from crossing that mystical line that transforms one from a legal child to a legal adult overnight.  She is in a relationship, and her boyfriend rapes her.  (Sadly, this is not at all a far-fetched scenario; 24% of teens in dating relationships have experienced sexual violence therein.)  She broke up with him, but doesn't want to accuse him, for any one of a number of reasons.  Because she still loves him, or because she's ashamed, or her parents are deeply religious and would punish her for it, or she's seen the gauntlet survivors are forced to traverse in the public eye in this culture and wants no part of it.  For whatever reason, she doesn't feel she can or should report him.  But a few weeks later, she discovers she's pregnant.  Now what?  Being pregnant doesn't magically make her ready to report him, or willing to talk to her parents about what happened if she wasn't before. 

As things currently stand, she might live in a place that permits minors access to abortion services without requiring parental involvement.  If she doesn't, she might be lucky enough to live close to a border with a state that does, and/or have the resources and time to make it possible to cross to another state to access a legal abortion. 

And that is precisely the scenario Boozman and his cronies want to prevent, as they outright admit.  By god, there will be no crossing of borders to obtain services!  Those services will be the same level of inaccessible no matter where you try to go!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the major point of our system of governance, as a collection of semi-autonomous states able to make our own laws on a number of issues, largely about the ability to go somewhere else if you didn't like the laws of your area?  Isn't that what state-level opponents of legal abortion like to claim, as they slowly tighten the noose?  That if you don't like it you can go somewhere else where the laws are more permissive?  And now this explicit attempt to make that impossible.  Hypocrites; color me shocked.

Anyway, if this law passes, the girl of a few paragraphs ago will have no option.  She will either have to accuse her rapist and face the victim-blaming gauntlet, or let everyone think she's irresponsible and face the judge-and-shame-pregnant-teens gauntlet.  And if her parents so choose, they can force her to bear her rapist's child and there is not a damn thing she can do about it no matter where she goes.  In what world is this a moral thing to do to someone?

Or another scenario.  A teen gets pregnant via consensual intercourse when the condom breaks.  Zie wants an abortion.  Zie lives with hir mother, but hir father disappeared years ago and nobody has any idea where he went.  With no forwarding address and the requirement being that both parents are notified via mail, what is this teen supposed to do?  Again I'll point out that there is no provision for judicial bypass, as most parental-notification bills include.  If a minor cannot locate and notify *both* hir parents, there is no recourse, and zie will be forced to have the baby or resort to illegal and unsafe abortion methods.  Congratulations, Boozman: your fucked-up law could end up killing the pregnant person and, you do realize this, yes?  The fetus in that case dies too. 

I'll also add that (as has been pointed out many times before) by anti-choice logic on this issue, parents should be able to force pregnant teens to abort, too.  If the parent can step in and make the decision about what to do with the pregnancy, irrespective of the teen's decision, well...that sword cuts both ways.  Of course we all know pro-forced-birthers would be up in arms if a parent ever tried to use their parental override that way (and rightfully so; remember, pro-choice is not pro-abortion, and we respect the right of the pregnant person to decide, so *any* overriding of that in any direction is bad in our eyes), but again:  Hypocrites. 

Color me shocked. 

*Typical Republican politics, to target the least powerful; first the poor via H.R. 3 and associated legislation, now minors.

Florida's Blaine Amendment Repeal

Florida's legislature is in the midst of repealing the Blaine Amendment, an amendment to their state constitution which bars state financial support of any religious denomination or institution.  They want to repeal it because it was originally rooted in anti-Catholic bigotry, and proponents of the repeal are upset that it means the state can't let funds go to religiously-affiliated hospitals, schools, and adoption agencies.  The new law would read:
Except to the extent required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, neither the government nor any agent of the government may deny to any individual or entity the benefits of any program, funding, or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief.
And is justified by a three-page-long list of "WHEREAS"es, like this one:
WHEREAS, religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, adoption agencies, and other benevolent institutions have been of longstanding service to the people of Florida and have provided numerous services to those in need, and
Which is all well and good, but the problem is, if an organization wants taxpayer money, they need to chuck their religious restrictions at the door and provide all the same services as the public schools/hospitals/adoption agencies.  This includes adoptions by same-sex couples (where that's legal, anyway; I seem to recall Florida passed a law against it, but I also seem to recall it was challenged in court, and don't remember the outcome?), adherence to scientific standards in school curricula (this means no creationism), and providing reproductive services like contraception and necessary abortions (at a minimum).    And religiously-based public service organizations are quite often loathe to do this. 

The idea behind allowing government funding to go to private, religiously-affiliated organizations seems to be based in avoiding redundancy and waste by simply funneling state/federal dollars to subsidize the religious hospitals, instead of having to keep open a competing public hospital in the same region.  But it's not a 1-to-1 conversion; government money handed to Catholic hospitals does not perform the same function that money would provide for if it were kept for a public hospital.  Witness official Catholic hospital policy that would rather let a woman die than perform an abortion to save her life, so long as a fetal heartbeat is present.  And I remember when I was in college, in Santa Cruz, and the hue and cry that went up when it was exposed that the only hospital nearby, without crossing the mountains to go into San Jose, was a Catholic hospital that refused to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.  Also a recent ruling in Washington state that a Catholic hospital is not bound to abide by the same employment non-discrimination laws as other businesses in the state.  Taxpayer money does not function the same when funneled to a religious organization, as it would if it were spent to support a public hospital.  And I fail to see why taxpayer dollars should go to subsidize services only selectively provided, according to the religious strictures of one particular religion to which not everyone in the demographic they're supposed to be serving is beholden.  Why should my healthcare options be restricted according to Catholic dogma, simply because I have the poor luck to live in an area where the only hospital is a Catholic hospital?  I'm not Catholic.

So.  Acknowledging a history of anti-Catholic bias?  Good step!  Religious freedom!  Etc!  But using that as a reason to spend taxpayer money supporting predominantly Catholic institutions that do not actually provide all the same services as the public equivalent would?  Bad!  Very bad!  And especially sucky for low-income areas without a lot of mobility, which is where Catholic hospitals are often to be found, and from which most people don't have the capacity to venture further afield in search of actually-comprehensive medical care!


Damn Indigenous People, Wanting Their Stuff Back!

Time for another round of Privileged People in Comments on the Internet!

A museum in Rouen, France is giving back some Maori skulls to be returned to New Zealand and buried.  The giving back of indigenous peoples' stolen shit - especially human remains, bunch of grave-robbing fucks that European colonial powers so often were - is to be commended.

However, in comments there's a ridiculous "debate" going on about under what circumstances things should be returned to the cultures from which they were stolen, with an extremely strong "How dare they try to take back what we rightfully stole?" vibe going on. Several commenters were happy to 'splain how we can give the occasional skull or body back for reburial without having to give back the rest of their stuff:
I'm thinking the best compromise would be for France to rewrite their policy on returning artifacts to differentiate between human remains and other artifacts. ... That would let people honor their dead ancestors and treat/bury their remains respectfully without emptying France's museums and research collections.
Um, why should we be against the emptying of France's museums of stolen artifacts?  Because the museums have some kind of *right* to the artifacts of other cultures stolen during imperialist expansions, so long as they're not human remains?  Fuck that noise.  I get that the point of museums is to allow ordinary people to have exposure to cultures and experiences beyond their everyday reach.  But you know?  Technology is a very cool thing.  We can make reproductions, have multimedia presentations, all kinds of interesting ways we can give people the experience of a thing from another culture, without having to have the actual stolen item in question there for people to look at. 
Maybe a better compromise would be that human remains would be "loaned" back to their native nations under the conditions that they be buried in keeping with the traditional burial rites either of the dead's era or of the current norm for what would likely be their descendants and if the conditions weren't met (the bodies weren't reburied promptly or properly or maintained inadequately) then France would be able to claim them back. That would make it so that people that felt like their ancestors were being denied a proper burial or their culture was being disrespected by the remains being displayed would be able to be pleased, but the nations that just wanted money makers for their own museums and specimens for their own researchers wouldn't be encouraged to take back remains. [emphasis mine]
Oh the horror!  Those selfish cultures, wanting to be the ones to make money off the display of their own artifacts!  The only thing worse than that, of course, is researchers wanting to be able to study their own ancient cultures!  Apparently, if you are a formerly-colonized culture who had a bunch of your history stolen by zealous white archaeologists, the ONLY ACCEPTABLE REASON to want those things back is for reburial.  Otherwise, France (and other colonial powers) is perfectly entitled to profit from and perform research studies on the things they rightfully stole, and to want those tourism dollars for your own economy is just selfish.

If we can teach children not to take things that aren't theirs, and tell them to give things back if they do succumb to temptation...why can't we act on these morals as adults, when it comes to the ancient treasures of whole other cultures? 

Why Anti-Porn Feminists Annoy The Fuck Out Of Me

So I've really gotten into this tumblr thing lately.  It's like the ultimate in people-watching.  I get to see all these amazing conversations go by, commentary from half a dozen people on very big issues - things like language reclamation, labels, sex work, sex positivity, etc - and it's fascinating and while I don't say much, I like being able to see all this happen.  

One of my favorite tumblrs is fuckyeahfeminists.  Last week, there was a series of posts that was basically a conversation between fuckyeahfeminists and this other person on the merits of sex work, and the porn/prostitution industries as inherently degrading to women.  Well, I say a conversation on the merits, but basically it was this person sanctimoniously moralizing about how sex workers are only doing it because they've been abused and blah blah blah.  Here's the first post that caught my eye:
comicbooksandallthatjazz:  you didnt reply to my last post about the sex industry, for whatever reason, and thats fine - but do you not have any issue whatsoever with the fact that the sex industry IS opression? just because it looks as though the women are enjoying it doesnt mean its right, or that its healthy - its psychologically damaging and its wrong to sell a persons body and soul just to get money. Again, as i said in the last post i sent to you, i think because these women are humans above all, we need to respect them so much that we don't allow this industry to thrive. they deserve more than to have sex with random men for money, way more. to back this undustry up is to back up opression, and that is not true feminism. this blog cant claim to celebrate anti opression when you are celebrating it every time you post a sex inudustry positive post. a person is not a prude or anti woman for not supporting the sex industry, they are humanitarian, and it has nothing to do with 'to each his/her own'. once we start making excuses by saying that, nothing gets solved.
Let's go through this and pull out the most egregious fails, shall we?  I'll start with this one:
just because it looks as though the women are enjoying it doesnt mean its right, or that its healthy - its psychologically damaging and its wrong to sell a persons body and soul just to get money.
"Bodies and souls?" I must admit I've never heard of a line of sex work in which one sells one's immortal soul as well as sexual services.   Yeah, I would say that's a bit off, if I thought it actually happened.  But what's really going on here, is someone making moralistic judgments that selling sexual services is the same as selling one's soul.  Also the idea that a sex worker is "selling hir body".  I hate that phrase, I really do.  It's such bullshit.  A sex worker is not "selling hir body".  Zie may be selling sexual services, but that does not make one's body itself the item for sale, as if the body no longer belongs to hir anymore once zie has used it for sexual labor in exchange for money.  Just...ugh.  What a fucked-up approach to the issue.  Also, "just because it looks like they're enjoying it"?  So now you're psychic, and you can look past their apparent enjoyment and read the abject misery that is inherently a result of sex work, no matter how much they look like - or even think and profess and believe themselves! - they're enjoying what they do.  Damn, can I hire your psychic powers please?  It'd be really awesome to be able to look at total strangers and know for sure what they're really feeling accords with my worldview. 
 i think because these women are humans above all, we need to respect them so much that we don't allow this industry to thrive.
Why yes, let's respect these women so much that we take away their best or preferred or chosen or sometimes only means of making a living and supporting themselves and sometimes also their families!  I know when I really respect someone, I show it by overriding their decisions about how to run their lives because I know what's best for them.  It's a very respectful thing to do. 

they deserve more than to have sex with random men for money, way more.
If they are only doing it because they must, then yes, I wholeheartedly agree.  Everyone deserves better than to be stuck in a shitty job they don't want because they have to do what they have to do in order to survive.  I just don't think the way to make that happen is by sanctimoniously sneering at what they have to do in order to survive, and advocating forcing them out of business without offering a decent alternative. 
to back this industry up is to back up opression, and that is not true feminism. this blog cant claim to celebrate anti opression when you are celebrating it every time you post a sex inudustry positive post.
"Feminism: ur doin it rong, cuz u disagree with me."  The funny thing is, I kind of agree with the point that the industry itself is fucked up. Most parts of sex industry are oppressive and kyriarchal.  But I don't agree that they way to fix that is to shame women who take part in it.

fuckyeahfeminists responded, of course.  Short and sweet and to the point:
I don’t think that I am celebrating oppression by putting a post that recognizes the humanity of others. If you think that I am, that is your prerogative, but I totally disagree that you think I’m celebrating anything except human beings.
Well said.  Of course, comicbooksandallthatjazz couldn't just leave it there...

now, i agree that sex workers should be humanized - this is precisely what i am trying to do here, to humanize them so much that we are not seeing them as pieces of meat that just love to have sex so much that they cant wait to get payed for it. Every choice in life has a psychological root, and many take this choice in life because they have been conditioned to respect this action just as little girls have grown up wanting to be like disney princesses because it has been conditioned into us that this is what a REAL woman is like. Young women today are also being taught that if you do not agree with the sex industry or gratuitous sex in film and music videos, that you are anti sex or a prude. This is not the case, and i am getting pretty tired of this judgemental train of thought.

what i meant in fact was that many experience sexual abuse before going into the industry, which causes them to seek the industry out in the first place, as a kind of repetition compulsion. I personally don't think it's healthy, i think they need encouragement on how to get out of the industry, whether theyve had traumatic past experiences or not. The way forward isnt to encourage the trade, but to acknowledge that it is exploitative. I also know that people have differring experiences on this subject, and its kinda touchy - but coming from a humanitarian outlook i really cant stick by it as a positive choice for women..
Oh, dear.
this is precisely what i am trying to do here, to humanize them so much that we are not seeing them as pieces of meat that just love to have sex so much that they cant wait to get payed for it.
I, um...what?  I can't even make this make sense.  Has it ever occurred to comicbooksandallthatjazz to, I dunno, STFU and listen to sex workers assert their own humanity, instead of this weirdly coercive process of forcible "humanization", by which zie really means "push them to conform to my idea of appropriate sexual values and mores"?  Probably not, and I find that actually kind of scary and gross in addition to headdesk-inducing.  Also, whoever said that supporting sex workers who have chosen their trade means "seeing them as pieces of meat etc."?  Personally, I think it's far more humanizing to recognize that people who engage in sex work are people capable of making their own decisions, who do so for a variety of reasons.  Also why is it that we, as a culture, like to encourage people to "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" and all that crap, while treating people who enjoy sex and exchange those services for money like the lowest of the low?  What's wrong with loving sex so much you want to get paid for having it, if that aligns with your values and works for your life?  Why is this automatically a bad thing, a less-than-human thing?  Because when you posit "humanizing" as the process of "no longer thinking sex workers enjoy sex so much they want to get paid for it", you are automatically and inherently implying that "enjoying sex so much you want to get paid for it" is a less-than-human position which people need to be "humanized" away from.  Ick ick ick.  I seem to have gotten coercive imposition of individual moral values onto other people regardless of their own beliefs all over me.  Someone hand me a paper towel please.
Every choice in life has a psychological root ... what i meant in fact was that many experience sexual abuse before going into the industry, which causes them to seek the industry out in the first place, as a kind of repetition compulsion.
Oh. For. Fuck's. Sake.  And here we have the old chestnut of "You're only doing it because you were abused."  As if being a survivor/victim of abuse automatically invalidates any sexual choices you make thereafter - at least, any choices that the judging person disagrees with.  This kind of weird savior complex comicbooksandallthatjazz has going on is getting creepier and creepier. 
I personally don't think it's healthy,
How nice for you.  Do you even stop to consider what actual sex workers themselves feel is healthy in their lives?  Of course not...
i think they need encouragement on how to get out of the industry, whether theyve had traumatic past experiences or not.
Don't worry, sex workers!  comicbooksandallthatjazz is coming to save you from yourselves, whether you like it or not!  Zie doesn't care why you're doing what you do, it's not healthy and zie will make you stop for your own good!  Moar exclamation points!!!
coming from a humanitarian outlook i really cant stick by it as a positive choice for women.
Then don't.  But it's still not your fucking choice to make, so STFU.  Also please stop claiming it's somehow "humanitarian" to devalue sex workers and overlook/deny their individual agency and choices.  "Helping" people against their will is not actually helping.

Out of curiosity, as I reread through all of this bullshit, I wonder if this person has ever thought that there are, in fact, people involved in sex work other than women?  That there are sex workers who are women, and also sex workers who are men, and who are non-binary as well?  Given that, is it only women for whom sex work is badnastydangerouswrongunhuman?  Or is it everyone?  If it's everyone, then why the assumptive references to women throughout the conversation?  If it's not everyone, but specifically women, well, yeah, you sound like a sexist douchewad who's perpetuating a sexual double-standard.

Honestly, now.  Is it really that much to ask that we listen to and respect the voices of the people who actually do the work we're talking about, when we talk about sex work?  This kind of talking-over bullshit absolutely epitomizes one of the worst failings of white Western mainstream feminism, the savior complex that utterly denies the work and feminisms of everyone but the mainstream capital-F Feminists.  And it needs to fucking stop.  Yesterday.


A Tale of Two Conversations

I was thinking about stuff this morning, and thought I'd share.  Enjoy.

It was about two years ago, when I was first coming to anti-disablism activism - albeit only in the most minor of language-based ways - that I decided to stop using "lame" as a pejorative.  After a month or two, it felt natural, and I'd begun to develop the instinctive flinch response to hearing other people use it like I had already had with terms like "retard" or "bitch" or the n-word.  It was around that time that two conversations took place.

Conversation A was with a young (20 at the time), cis, white, hetero, currently-able-bodied man I know.  We were hanging out, and talking about something - probably politics, knowing us - and he said something like "Ugh, that's so lame."  I flinched, and decided to speak up.  "You know that's kind of offensive, right?" I asked.  "Could you please not say that around me?"  He looked at me, clearly startled and affronted by my implying that he was doing something Wrong.  "No it's not," he replied.  I blinked a couple of times.  Um, I'm the one who actually studies and reads about and writes about and lives immersed in various kinds of anti-_ism activism, so who is he to be correcting me about something like that? I thought.  Silly me, I should have known the answer was "a Very Privileged Dude", duh.  But I argued back.  "Yes, it is.  It's like using "that's so gay", which I know you've stopped doing because it's wrong.  Same kind of thing.  Saying "that's lame" is prejudice against disabled people the same way as "that's gay" is prejudice against queer people."  And he argued back, too.  "No, it's not!  It's not the same thing at all."  And on it went, both of us getting quite loud and impassioned, I insisting that dammit you should probably be listening to someone who actually works with -ism stuff, please, and he insisting that he wasn't being -ist at all and I was just being oversensitive.  I finally dropped it, he still uses the word to this day, and I just quietly flinch and let it pass.

Conversation B was with another young (25 at the time), cis, white, hetero, currently-able-bodied man I know.  As we were driving somewhere one day, he sympathized with me describing some annoying situation by saying, "Oh, that's lame, I'm sorry."  I flinched, and took a deep breath and said, "Using "lame" that way is really offensive actually.  Can you not use it please?"  He looked surprised, and said, "Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't know.  Um, could you suggest other words I could use instead?"  And the request for alternatives wasn't made in a demanding "educate me nao!" kind of way or anything.  It was simply that he trusted my judgment and vocabulary skills and hoped I might have advice for him on what to replace it with.  So we brainstormed alternatives for awhile, came up with several, and I only heard him use it once or twice more - swiftly self-corrected each time - before he'd fully eliminated the phrase from his speech. 

Two men, very alike in terms of privilegedness and upbringing.  Two very similar conversations centered around the same request and the same word.  And yet where one was stubborn and got all privilege-denying about it, the other was willing to learn and change.  So I guess my question is...For the love of all the gods, why can't most call-outs happen like Conversation B?  Where one person says, "Hey, you did this thing that is wrong/offensive/oppressive/bad," and the other person says, "I'm sorry, I won't do it again.  Do you have any advice or education you would like to offer while we're talking about it?" (While remaining open to the possibility that the answer may just be "No", of course)  How hard can this possibly fucking be, that it never just goes like that? 

For the record, here's how it ended: Dude A and I are still close, but I don't feel entirely safe around him and I have to be careful what topics come up when we're talking.  And it erodes our relationship a little every time something like this comes up.  Dude B is my best friend, around whom I feel entirely safe and respected, and our relationship is strengthened every time something like this comes up.

So, privileged people*: which Dude would you rather be?  Keep that in mind in your interactions with less-privileged people or allies. 

*Which really means basically everyone, cause most people have privilege on at least one axis.  Being oppressed on one axis doesn't negate your privilege on others. *cough*DanSavage*cough*

Apology and Blog Note

Sorry for the light/sporadic posting the past week or two.  Depression has come to play again - or rather, to stop me from playing.  Posts may continue to be sporadic for another week or so.  Hopefully not longer.  Again, I'm sorry! 


Stubborn Privilege and Trigger Warnings: The SexGenderBody Fiasco

[TW on all links to sexgenderbody for potentially-triggering material with no warning (I don't know what they've posted since writing this), and a really shitty privilege-heavy attitude on why they refuse to use them]

I'm not, myself, particularly big on tumblr.  At least not yet.  I have one, and I follow a few of my twiends who have tumblrs, but that's the extent of it so far.  However, as y'all may know, I am quite a fan of Twitter and spend a shit-ton of time on there (@WitchWords, if anyone cares).  I find a lot of interesting reading material, often stuff I blog about, via links people post on Twitter.  I used to get a lot of these from the @sexgenderbody Twitter account, which is linked to the sexgenderbody tumblog, which is as far as I can tell is curated and moderated by Arvan Reese, who founded it and the associated blog.  (I used to think there was no more awkward word for "collection of crap on the internet" than "blog".  I was wrong.  There's "tumblog".)

Sexgenderbody's tagline is "A direct, honest and respectful conversation about sex, gender and body."  They post links to blog posts and tumblr posts and images having to do with, you guessed it, sex, gender, and the body.  My content has shown up in the sexgenderbody feed a few times, and I've really enjoyed some of the stuff I have found by clicking through on items in their Twitter feed.  There was a bit of a furor over the inconsistent use of trigger warnings on the tumblr awhile back, and Arvan posted a big long justification that basically boiled down to "I don't object to them but I won't add them either."  I only skimmed it at the time, as I wasn't following them on tumblr and only click through on perhaps a third of the links they post to Twitter, if that, so I'd never come across anything egregiously triggering to me that lacked a warning.  It wasn't a big deal to me at the time.  Rereading it now, it basically comes off as a hugely privilege-denying wankfest of "If you don't like it close the browser," with a side order of "let's conflate offensive with triggering and post topless pics of men and women to prove our point!"  Also, "well with a name like sexgenderbody, you should expect to see NSFW stuff in the feed, I don't know why you're so upset."  Honestly, that article alone could feed creation of about four different PDDs.

I say I "used to" get blog fodder from them, because as of today I've unfollowed and blocked them on Twitter, and if I can figure out how to do it on tumblr (I'm still learning!) I'll be blocking them there, too.

Yesterday, one of the things they posted was [TW: self-harm, open wounds, blood] an image of a patch of medium-tone flesh with the word "DYSPHORIA" carved into it, still bleeding.  [END TW]  Several people used the "ask" thing on tumblr to request a trigger warning be placed on the image, since such a graphic depiction of self-harm could be *really* triggering to people.  Well, since their tagline says they're interested in "respectful" discussion, they immediately apologized and fixed it, right?

Lolno.  The first person to ask for a trigger warning - very politely, I might add - got this reply:
I’m not about to put a trigger warning on someone else’s body. If the OP put a trigger, I’ve included that. But it’s not *my* place to make someone else’s body a trigger.
...Whut.  What the fuck does "make someone else's body a trigger" even mean?  Adding a TW isn't "[making] someone else's body a trigger."  It's a triggery image whether it's got the actual TW on it or not.  All an actual TW would do is help keep people from being ambushed by a disturbing image that might trigger them into anything, from a few minutes of deep focused breathing and needing to look at pictures of kittens for awhile to calm down, to sitting in a corner shaking and crying all day, to attempting fucking suicide.  Why is the "respect" apparently all reserved for the person who posted it in the first place, and not the people who could have moments/afternoons/days/weeks/etc totally fucked up by seeing it without warning? 

But it got worse.  When someone replied saying it wasn't about making someone's body a trigger, but about the welfare of people reading who could be harmed, adding that they do self-harm sometimes and wouldn't want to trigger people, Arvan replied
"I respect your experience.  You should unsubscribe from this feed and take care of yourself - always.  Take care of yourself."
1: No, you don't.  If you did, you'd take two fucking seconds and put a fucking TW on it.  2: It's hard to "take care of yourself" by unsubscribing AFTER being triggered by something like this.  Saying "just unsubscribe" after the fact is singularly unhelpful.  

At that point, the responses of "this is not a "respectful discussion"" started pouring in. 

I think it's about time you changed your description. Your utter refusal to listen to anyone who finds some of the images triggering is NOT evidence of a 'respectful conversation' about anything. It would require very little effort on your part to put cuts or content warnings. And your reasons for refusal are ignorant. it is not shaming to put a content warning on cutting. It is, however, shaming to those of us with triggers to act like the existence of our triggers are somehow shaming people.
You seem to misunderstand what triggers are for. ... It's not to protect people's sensibilities, or to censor content. It is a tool to help protect people with disabilities.
Refusing to put trigger warnings on content is incredibly ableist as you are excluding or directly harming people with those triggers.
This isn't a discussion.
Refusing to put trigger warnings is ableist, and is absolutely not, even slightly, respectful.
Those two and at least two others got a copy-pasted response of "We are not going to alter our behavior or language.  If this site or policy triggers you, please unfollow."  Way to engage your critics, Arvan! 

Well, of course people started to get angry.  Which, as so many privileged people* do, Arvan took as proof that zie was in the right because, y'know, you all are being so mean and disrespectful and angry at me!  And as we all know, being angry automatically means you forfeit the discussion and the calm person wins.

I'm not going to quote the rest of the answers Arvan gave to everyone's objections, cause this post is already long enough as it is.  Suffice to say, if you want a blood-pressure-spike-inducing read, click through on the sexgenderbody tumblr link I provided up top, and scroll through the first page.  On that page alone, I was able to check off the following bingo squares:
  • Requesting trigger warnings is linguistic oppression!
  • I'm not responsible for your emotions (Direct quote: "All of us need to be responsible for our triggers.")
  • If you might be triggered, stay off the internet. (Not kidding, that's a near-direct quote)
  • Calling me ___-ist is calling names!  Now who's the bad guy?
  • Commenting anonymously means I don't have to take you seriously
  • You're taking my words out of context
  • Who are you to judge what's -ist and what's not?
  • You're bullying me! (Also a near-direct quote)
For fuck's sake, that's almost a double bingo.  And throughout it all was the constant thread of "But if I put a trigger warning on that photo it would be mean/discriminatory/disrespectful/judging to the person in the photo!"

I genuinely don't understand the reasoning behind that.  Nobody who asked for trigger warnings was in any way trying to harm or condemn the OP.  A trigger warning on something is not a condemnation, nor a judgment.  It's a reflection of reality in a world filled with trauma survivors, and a courtesy to people who have already suffered to try not to add to their suffering further.  This is not, was not, has never been about the person in the photo.  It is about being a decent fucking human being.  It is about the photo itself and being responsible for the media one disseminates.  It is not about the person in it, or the person who took it, or the person who posted it.  It is about those who may see it.  Arvan is putting the spotlight squarely on the wrong person's feelings here.  (Why does that sound familiar?  Oh, right.  Rape culture.  Victim-blaming.  Whose feelings are important [the privileged person, in this case, Arvan*] and whose feelings can be discounted [the person actually being harmed].  This is a calculation we've all seen played out innumerable times.)

To repeatedly deny requests for trigger warnings on a photo like that one - I mean, shit, I'm not particularly easily triggered despite a history of self-harm in my own life, but that one was enough to make me take deep breaths and run through my "this is now, not then, you don't have to do that anymore" mental spiel to stay calm - is the height of rudeness and disconcern for your audience.  Arvan Reese of sexgenderbody has, in effect, told all hir readers, "I do not give a shit about you.  My intellectual high horse and misunderstanding of trigger warnings as censorship is more important than making sure the people who enjoy my tumblr aren't triggered into potentially killing themselves.  I think people with histories of trauma and neuroatypical people don't belong on the internet because their need for warnings before potentially triggery content inconveniences the rest of us.  People with trigger issues should be able to snap out of it and control their reactions, or else they just need to miss out on vast swathes of potentially-excellent content because typing two words at the top of a post is against my principles."

Well, Arvan, in that case, fuck you too.  

And if you're pissed off after reading all that, and just need a righteous fucking rant about it, check this shit out.  14 instances of fuck in 5 paragraphs.  Fuck yes.  Also, here is an excellent post about what being triggered can really do to someone, and here's a very thorough explanation of how forcing marginalized people to constantly defend their access to discussions about their issues reinforces their oppressions.

*I posit Arvan as "privileged" in the sense of not suffering debilitating triggered episodes versus those who could be truly harmed by a triggered episode, because while zie claims to have triggers of hir own in one of hir responses to a calling-out post, I almost doubt it; I kind of think someone who has genuinely experienced being triggered as opposed to being offended or upset by a photo of something would understand that triggering isn't something you can "be responsible for".  Zie's certainly acting like a PDD in this exchange, anyway.  My referring to hir as "privileged" is a specific reference to the privileged/oppressed pair of not needing trigger warnings/needing trigger warnings.  It is not meant to invalidate hir experiences of oppression on whatever other axes zie may experience.


The National Day of Prayer: Encouraging Christian Supremacists Since 1952

[Cross-posted at Shakesville]  Today, May 5th, is the National Day of Prayer here in the U.S.  By law, enacted by Congress in 1952 (and amended in 1988 to fix the date on the first Thursday in May every year), the President is required to issue a proclamation declaring a national day of prayer.  Obama's proclamation for this year can be found here.  The main organization promoting the NDoP, and which organizes the vast majority of NDoP events throughout the country, is the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDoPTF) chaired by none other than Shirley Dobson, the wife of James Dobson, founders of Focus on Your Own Damn Family, a nationally-known fundie Christian org.  Which kind of makes it hard to believe that the NDoP is *not* a sectarian act of government-sanctioned proselytism, as its backers insist.  When the main organization organizing events for a government-sanctioned observance is a fundamentalist Christian organization, and the events themselves are themed around a quotation from Christian scripture, well.  Suffice to say the quacking is getting awfully loud, despite protestations that it is not, in fact, a duck.

The theme NDOoPTF has chosen for this year is "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", taken from Psalm 91:2, which reads: “I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”  They make the usual noise about the terrible state America is in - which, I agree with them, but I rather suspect our reasons for that belief wildly diverge - and have even given us the thoughtful gift of an absolutely terribad promo video:

[Calm but faintly ominous-sounding instrumental music over a montage of "heartland" shots: a farmhouse, a windmill over waving grain fields, a white one-room-schoolhouse style church, with the sky above all these showing gathering roiling clouds oddly lit from within.  Panning across a carefully-planned-to-look-multicultural group of people (black guy, Asian woman, white child, but with all older white people in the background pews) sitting in a church pew with blank but attentive faces. Cuts to a black man standing at the pulpit of the church, gesturing and reading from the Bible.  A shadow falls over his face and he looks up as if startled.  The music suddenly shifts to full-on ominous disaster-movie-trailer and cuts to a dark cloudy background with all-caps text in gold reading "What if we didn't respond to the call to prayer?"  The cloudy background flickers with reddish lightning.  Cuts to wide shot of grassy plain with a single run-down-looking old house to one side, the sky increasingly full of those weirdly-lit boiling clouds.  Then to a white teenaged girl sitting on her bed, picking up a Bible from the bed beside her as if going to read from it.  She looks up consideringly, the room darkens suddenly and she looks worried.  She gets up and walks to the narrow window in the room.  This whole time, the music is sounding like it's been ripped straight from a 90's disaster movie trailer.  She looks out at the weird, tumultuous clouds.  Cut back to cloudy background with all-caps gold text: "What if we forgot the God of our fathers?"  More reddish lightning.  Cut to a Latino-looking young teenaged boy sitting on a couch with a Wiimote in hand as if playing a video game.  The room darkens suddenly.  He looks up, gets up and goes to the window to look at more weird clouds.  Back to cloudy background and all-caps gold text: "What if we didn't care?"  The music is really getting into it, adding wordless female chorus voices in descant over the throbbing drumbeat.  This would be the part where the plane is plummeting in flames, or the earthquake opens a jagged canyon in the earth and people start falling in, in the trailer the music probably came from.  Cuts back to the Latino boy, going to a table and picking up a Bible.  Then to the white teen girl, opening her Bible.  The music abruptly stops as she looks down, and it shows the page she's opened to in Psalms.  Psalm 91 is shown up-close, then the page gets all weird and blurry and streams of light seem to be coming out from behind verse 2 "I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.", obscuring everything else.  The music fades in again on a single-note crescendo until it bursts back into full disaster-movie glory and the video cuts to a blue sky with passing clouds and some odd dissolve-text effects resolving to read "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" in white.  Cut to the one-room-schoolhouse church interior, pews cleared and a semicircle of white people kneeling on the wood floor with black guy and Asian woman strategically positioned off to one side.  The two teens enter and go to the empty space in the center and both kneel, clasping their hands in their laps and bowing their heads with everyone else.  Scene pans across the room of kneeling people, and we see that the Latino teen, black guy and Asian woman were the only non-white people there - yay, tokens!  Cuts to the Capitol building, backlit by those dark roiling lighning-filled clouds.  Then the Golden Gate Bridge, looking inward toward the Bay, also topped by those weird clouds.  Fades to the kneeling teens, then immediately fades to the outside of the white church, where a hole slowly opens in the dark clouds, seeming filled with white light.  Quick fade to a white family kneeling in prayer inside the church, then to a steeple with beams of white light breaking up the dark cloud behind it.  The Golden Gate Bridge again with those beams of light starting to break through the clouds.  Cuts to a time-lapse shot of some city on a body of water at dusk, clouds streaming over the sky and lights coming on along the shore, with white text reading, "He Created the Heavens."  Text dissolves, image fades to a time-lapse shot of a mountain peak covered in snow with white text reading, "He Set the Mountains in Place".  Cuts to a shot of an older white man who looks suspiciously like Dubya, face upraised in either a serious prayerful expression or an expression of constipation (it's kind of hard to tell.  Can't the religious reich afford decent actors?), and hands clasped before his face, light shining on him.  Text beside him reads, "There is Hope...In Prayer!"  He bows his head, text dissolves.  Cut to a loltastic created shot involving the Capitol, the White House, and the Jefferson Memorial all side-by-side and sort of layered over each other where they overlap, a pair of disembodied hands reaching up from the bottom of the frame and slowly grasping each other in interlocked-fingers-prayer-position, while an American flag with no apparent means of support waves from the left side of the frame, and lightning flickers across a strip of dark clouds above the Representing Washington DC building mashup.  Text falls into place reading "Join With Millions in Prayer", then the NDoPTF logo reverse-dissolves into place below that, superimposed over the mashup.  The music comes to a dramatic climax, cuts off for a dramatic moment, then comes slamming back as the screen goes black and "05.05.2011" written in glowy disaster-movie font zooms in, then flashes to "www.NationalDayofPrayer.org" backlit by a lens flare.  The music finishes with a dramatic flourish and the whole thing fades to black.  Fin.]

It's the music that really makes it, y'know?  A day of prayer - which, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't prayer supposed to be a quiet, meditative reflection on and connection with one's deity? - is totes the same as an actiony disaster movie, amirite?  Well, perhaps if you consider the NDoP to be a disaster.  *rimshot*

But whatever happened to the ruling from last year, wherein a judge in Wisconsin found the requirement of a NDoP to be unConstitutional?  If the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, why is it still being celebrated?  Why has Obama issued the 2011 proclamation (aside from his terrible predilection for pandering to people who will never vote for him)?

Unfortunately, the 7th Circuit overturned the ruling on appeal last month.  They ruled that since the law requiring declaration of the NDoP each year only directly affects the President (by requiring hir to issue the proclamation), only the President has suffered sufficient injury from the statute to challenge it.  Thus, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has no standing to challenge the NDoP.  The decision, which was 3-0, declared:
Plaintiffs contend that they are injured because they feel excluded, or made unwelcome, when the President asks them to engage in a religious observance that is contrary to their own principles.... [However] offense at the behavior of the government, and a desire to have public officials comply with (plaintiffs’ view of) the Constitution, differs from a legal injury. The “psychological consequence presumably produced by observation of conduct with which one disagrees” is not an “injury” for the purpose of standing.
The concurring opinion defended the decision by saying SCOTUS hasn't defined "injury" in the context of Establishment Clause cases well enough yet to give FFRF and other non-religious (or religious but Constitutionally-inclined) citizens standing based on "psychological injury" resulting from the blatant Othering of non-belief a Presidentially-declared Day of Prayer foments.

And so we have it that, in 20-fucking-11, President Obama - the only President to ever consistently include the phrase "believers and non-believers" in his speeches, yet who attempted to have FFRF's case against the NDoP thrown out before the initial ruling was given - has issued the yearly National Day of Prayer proclamation asking "...all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation."

FFRF has said they will seek en banc rehearing (review by the full court, not just the 3-judge panel).  Welp.  I know what I'm praying for today, then.  And it's sure as fuck not "asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation."  If it comes to a contest between God as interpreted by Christian Dominionists, and "the forces of hell" as represented by those who would see the Constitution's Establishment Clause respected, well.  I'm gonna have to side with the forces of hell on this one.


Biology: 3, Anti-Fat Techniques: 0

So we know that diets don't work long-term.  And we know bariatric surgery doesn't work long-term.  Now, we know liposuction doesn't work long-term, either.  A study recently released showed that over the year following liposuction on the hips and thighs, new fat cells were created to replace the ones lost, distributed over different areas of the body (they're theorizing that it's because the liposuction destroys the supporting structure under the skin where the fat cells would normally grow).

Fat bodies cannot be willed, fooled, or altered thin.  When are we going to accept this?  When are we going to stop shaming people for a product of genetics and biology?  When are we, as a culture, going to take science seriously when it says, over and over again, No, this weight-loss thing just doesn't work, no matter how you do it?

But you know what the worst part of the linked article was?  The control group had been promised a reduced rate on their surgeries if they still wanted them, in exchange for waiting the time of the study before getting liposuction done. 

And when it was time, even after they had been told the study results, more than half of them went ahead and got the surgery anyway.

My heart breaks for them. 


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