FUCKING STOP: An open letter to Gov. Perry and the Texas GOP

Dear Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, and the Texas GOP,

You don't know me, and I'm not a Texan in any way, shape, form, or fashion.  So I'd say you won't care what I think about this fiasco - except that you've already made it abundantly clear that you don't care what anyone thinks of what you're doing here, whether they're a constituent, a politician with the opposition, or God Herself, so I know it's nothing personal.

Since my words, and indeed, my very existence mean nothing to you, I will feel free to speak my true mind on this in very blunt terms.

You are the biggest pack of filthy hypocrites I've ever seen.

You (the wider GOP) venerate the Founding Fathers, who fought a war and founded a nation over the right to be treated with respect and have a say in one's government - and yet you blatantly disrespect the modern people of that nation when they gather by the hundreds and thousands to tell you to STOP.  You idolize (and I mean that in the truest sense of idolatry, by the way) a group of men who are remembered for, among other things, decrying "taxation without representation" - and yet you will happily impose far more intimate regulations on your constituents' very bodies while silencing their representation, whether it be through their elected officials or through their own voices raised in protest.

You use procedural trick after procedural trick to try to force those elected voices to shut up, eventually forcing them from the floor under guise of respect for parliamentary procedure - and yet you're quite happy to blatantly violate the same rules you insist everyone else abide by as soon as it suits you, by altering documents and timestamps to literally rewrite history once it became clear you'd lost.

Do you know why I am political in the ways that I am, Mr. Perry (et al)?  Because I still believe in - still want to believe in - the the noble ideals I was told we as a country stood for, as a child growing up in America.  I want this country to offer liberty and justice to all.  I want a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

And you people claim to love the Constitution, love the Founders, love what this country "stands for" - that is, what we claim to stand for - and yet your actions tell a terrifyingly different story.

Because when you are faced with The People Themselves, in the flesh, by the hundreds, literally raising their voices to prevent you from making unjust laws that trample on their rights...

And your response, after every dirty trick and lie and machination you used failed you, is to say "That's fine, we'll just try it again next week"...

You are not acting in the spirit of the lofty goals of liberty and justice and freedom.  You are channeling King George.  (Hell, at this point, I'm inclined to say you're channeling Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine too, but that's my penchant for hyperbole and my geekishness sitting down for a drink together, so.)

You are liars.  You are hypocrites.  You are power-hungry tyrants unfit to wield authority over an ant colony, much less millions of human beings.  And you need to fucking stop.

With intense loathing,


The new "You're either with us, or with the enemy"

The rhetoric from the right has been getting more and more frenzied these past couple years.  I suppose that's what happens when your absurdly racist party is simultaneously confronted with a Scary Black Man President and increasing evidence of your slide into irrelevance as your single priority of "taking care of rich straight cis white Christian male businessmen" becomes ever-clearer at the same time that that particular demographic is shrinking compared to the size of every other demographic that you've made it quite obvious you hate.  So the bit I came across today isn't *surprising*, but it is, I think, something to note.

There's plenty to unpack in this particular off-the-rails screed from Don Feder of World Congress of [Cishet 2-Parent Unlimited-Children White Christian] Families about how Obama is totez gonna start rounding up conservatives and putting them in concentration camps any day now (and what IS it with these people and their Holocaust-appropriation fetish anyway?), but there was one line in particular that jumped out at me.
Recall Obama’s bitter-clinger remarks from the 2008 campaign – identifying resistance to his message primarily among those who cling to religion, guns and "anti-immigrant" sentiment. Think of his anti-nationalism (including the rejection of American exceptionalism) and attacks on the family, via same-sex "marriage" and taking medical decisions out of the family’s hands.
As an aside, "taking medical decisions out of the family's hands" is something to condemn when it's Democrats making it possible for people to even *consider* making medical decisions at all via expanded access to health insurance and health services, but taking medical decisions out of people's hands is awesome when it comes to Republicans legislating pregnancy and reproductive decisions? Uh huh. We see you, hypocrites.
But the part that got me here was the bit about "rejection of American exceptionalism" as equivalent to anti-nationalism.

If you don't believe the U.S. is inherently superior to all other nations on this planet, you are anti-nationalist.  If you do not believe we're better than everyone else, you hate America.  There is no middle ground.  There is no patriotism that allows for any understanding or critical examination of this nation's flaws.  If you don't uncritically laud everything America does as awesome simply because it was done by "the best country on Earth", it's a sign that you hate America and everything the country stands for.

(Considering that, if you look at our history, we have spent a lot of time and effort on standing for greed, corruption, imperialism, colonialism, warmongering, and genocide, I'm not sure why we *shouldn't* hate at least a solid portion of what this country "stands for", but that's a whole other conversation.)

Twelve years ago, Dubya famously said, "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists."

They've put it in fancy euphemisms and made a dog-whistle of it, but it's the same sentiment.  If you fail to believe 100% that this is God's Country and we can do no wrong, if you fail to uncritically support everything this nation does, you are the enemy.

And they wonder why I'm far more afraid of conservatives in my own country than I've ever been of nebulous "terrorists" halfway across the world.


Help a feminist blogger get her business off the ground!

Quick links if you wanna skip the whole reading-the-post part:
That said, here's the story:

I realize I haven't posted much at all here for awhile, and that's for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
  • Seriously stressful home life stuff
  • Jumping around between shitty temp jobs
  • A repetitive-strain injury to my right hand that makes typing for long periods of time difficult and painful
  • Battling moar depression stuff (bleh)
But most relevant to this post, I've also been working on trying to get my jewelry business off the ground.  

I make chainmaille jewelry (link goes to the maille tag on my tumblr blog where I post photos of completed pieces as well as works in progress [and, ahem, rants and crankiness about the making process when shit gets fucked up]) to sell on Etsy, to family/friends/coworkers, and by word of mouth.  And the instability of temp work I've been dealing with lately (along with the raves and encouragement from people who've seen my work helping me to gain confidence in my skills) has made me think - what if I could fill in the gaps in income with this work?  Maybe even be able to jump off the treadmill of the 9-to-5?  So I've been working on trying to make the shift from hobby to business.  I don't expect to make millions, but I'd like to be able to be at least partially self-sufficient from this.  The thing is, being a business requires looking like a business and acting like a business, and that requires some stuff I don't have and can't afford what with being between jobs and struggling to get by - more/a greater variety of raw materials, better tools, business cards, displays and packaging, table fees for local craft fairs, a small light tent for professional-looking product photography, etc.

Which is why I've created an Indiegogo fundraiser campaign to help me out with this.  The perks I'm offering include discount codes for my Etsy shop and pieces of custom jewelry.  Every donation is appreciated, no matter how small, and if you can't donate, signal-boosting is equally appreciated!  Toss the link up on FB, reblog my donations post on tumblr, retweet the new-post tweet for this post, any and all getting-the-word-out is awesome.  

Or just buy something from my shop.  That would work too.  ;-)



Anti-Choicers Do Not Have Souls

Because no one with a soul, or, hell, even a modicum of human decency, would do this:
“Hey,” he says. He holds out his smart phone, as if he thinks I’m going to look at it.  “Is this your mother?”  The question seems so out-of-place, it doesn’t quite register. Of course, I don’t answer.  “It sounds like she was a good woman,” he says. ”This is her obit, right?”
And he begins to read to me from my mother’s obituary.
Ron shared it with some other protesters while he was at it, handing them his phone to read, nodding in my direction to point me out. I think they’ve just learned that you can google someone and find out a lot about them, and are really excited about this new skill. Quick to share their opinions too.  According to them, my mother is ashamed of me. She’s looking down from heaven, she can see me, and she’s afraid for me. She doesn’t want me to do this. She’s upset that we’ll be separated for eternity, cause I’ll be going to the other place. My mother wants me to know that there’s still time for me to change, to turn away from this evil.
 That is the account of a clinic escort at the Louisville, KY abortion clinic, which is apparently host to some of the worst, most intense anti-choice protesters in existence.

Like, for example, the kind of amoral assbag who would read someone's mother's obituary to them to try to harass them into going away.

I thought I'd basically heard it all when it came to anti-choice shenanigans - lies, medical misinformation, picture-taking of clients as they arrive, if they can get a name calling the patient's family or even workplace to try to get someone to come shame/guilt them into not going through with their abortion, and my favorite (and by favorite I mean the worst thing I've heard of them doing) where they got the info of a 16-year-old girl who'd had an abortion, and a year later sent her a "baby's first birthday" greeting card splattered with red paint to look like blood.  But seeking out information about someone's lost loved ones and publicly using that to harass and attack them?  That's a new low, even for anti-choicers.

And, of course, it stands on their usual rhetoric about how apparently all mothers are pro-life, as evidenced by the fact that they chose to have kids, regardless of how laughably inaccurate that idea is when you consider that some 60% of abortion patients already have children, and are often choosing to terminate their pregnancy in order to be able to better care for the kids they've already got.  They know nothing about this person's mother.  They don't even know if she believed in god, was Christian, believed in heaven or hell.  They're literally just using the dead as a sockpuppet to try to give their own beliefs added emotional impact by putting their words in her mouth.

That is sick, that is twisted, that is wrong as fuck, and I want as many people to hear about this as possible, because it is a perfect example of how their "compassion" and "caring for life" is nothing but a front to mask some vicious bigotry and serious control issues.


My Father's Name

[originally written as a rant on my tumblr]

I swear to dog the next time I hear someone talk about a woman taking her husband's name as a contrast between "her husband's name" and "her father's name" I AM GOING TO BITE YOU. VERY VERY HARD. NOT IN THE SEXY WAY. 
Because this name that I have right now, the one that’s been on all my paperwork for twenty fucking seven years, THAT IS MY NAME.  Mine.  MY name.

My father shares it, yes.  As does much of his extended family.  This is true.  And it is also true that I share a last name with his family, rather than with my mother’s family.

But that
does not
make it

I have not been going around in the world for twenty-seven years answering to a borrowed name.

Every time I wrote it on a piece of paper for school,
every time I answered to it in roll call,
every time I responded to it at rugby practice,
every time I have entered it on DMV forms
and medical forms
and tax forms,
I have claimed it as MINE.

If (when, gods willing) Ozz and I get married someday, if I choose to change my last name*, it will be me choosing to exchange my name for his.  Not me giving up my father’s name in order to take on my husband’s name.

I guess what I’m saying is, don’t you fucking dare act like my name doesn’t really belong to me, just because it belonged to a man before me.  He doesn’t keep ownership of the name we share because I bear it, any more than he keeps ownership of my body or life because I bear his genetics.  When you act like it’s still *his* name, you’re also acting like I’m still *his* in some way.  And I may be slightly touchier than most about this because my father and I have some truly epic Issues, but you imply that I’m somehow *his* in any way beyond what allegiance I freely choose to give him as an independent adult in my own right, and I will fucking cut you.

We clear?

*Spoiler alert: I won't.  Or at least, it won't be a straight mine-gone-take-his-instead.  I don't even like his last name and it sounds terrible with my first name.   We'd been considering hyphenating, which would probably be my preferred choice.


Anti-Choicers Say the Darndest Things: Giving vs Forcing

Remember how I posted awhile back on South Dakota's intent to lengthen the already-ridiculous 3-day waiting period for abortions by decreeing that weekends and holidays don't count toward the 3 days, as if people seeking abortions can only think properly on weekdays?*

Well, they've decided they need to clarify why they're doing it.  It's not because we can't think on weekends and holidays.  It's because anti-abortion activists take the weekends off just like the rest of us, meaning they don't have access.

Which, on first glance, makes very little sense, until you get a bit further into their "explanation", where they say:
One of the other purposes (of the bill) is to provide the woman with the opportunity to seek out counseling from other persons or individuals within the pregnant mother’s natural support system, such as the woman’s regular care physician, who’s never going to be open on a Saturday or a Sunday, or such as a clergy member
Hoooo boy, what a lot of loaded language to unpack. 

So first of all, what catches my eye right off is the phrase "pregnant mother".  They're coercively labeling all pregnant people as mothers, regardless of their feelings on the issue, or indeed their actual fucking gender.  I would quite possibly actually slap someone who tried to refer to me as a "mother" simply because I was pregnant one time, if they said it to my face.  Being pregnant and being a parent are two separate things, even before we get to the issue of NOT ALL PREGNANT PEOPLE ARE WOMEN SO YOUR GENDERED TERM FOR A PARENT DOESN'T EVEN WORK.  Especially when you're specifically talking about a subset of the population of pregnant people who are actively seeking to terminate their pregnancies, you're probably going to find a fair number of them who do not see themselves as parents at all (unless they're already parents to actual children, which 60% of those who get abortions are) because if you don't intend to have the baby, why would you refer to yourself in relation to it like that?

From there I move on to raise an eyebrow at "natural support system".  It's not overtly a bad phrase, but something about it bothers me, and I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it.  Perhaps it's the "natural" bit, which casts a certain air of judgment over just who the pregnant person includes in their support system.  Because you know this guy means: the potential father, the person's doctor, their priest (because obviously he assumes everyone would seek counseling from a Christian clergyperson), or their immediate biological family such as parents.  But many people have very different support systems, including friends, chosen family, online friends, etc., which implicitly are excluded from this concept of "natural" support system.  It also subtly casts the counseling that patients receive at the clinic - which they do, they always do, even where it's not required by law, as it's not in California but I did have to sit down and talk to someone for long enough to make sure I knew I had other options and they'd help me with those if I wanted to do something else - as "unnatural" and inferior, which is probably the other thing that's raising my hackles.

But the real gem of this quote, the thing that throws their lies into stark relief, is a single word.


As in, "give her the opportunity to seek counseling from places that aren't open on weekends".

I dunno about you, but when you're legislating requirements for how someone handles a situation, I don't really feel like you can call that "giving an opportunity" to someone.  That's called "forcing them to do things your way" and it's a very, very different concept. 

I mean, do they think that there's a time limit between the initial consult and the actual procedure?  Like, once you have your consult, the timer is running down and if you don't finish up with your second appointment RIGHT THE FUCK NOW you'll lose the chance to have it at all?  Because people are quite capable of waiting an extra few days if they feel the need to.  They're not being rushed by anybody but the ticking clock conservatives have turned biology into with their X-week restrictions and bans, so if pregnant people are feeling pressured to hurry up and get their abortion, it's not pro-choicers' fault.  It's standard business tactics, though, I suppose.  Create the problem so that you can tout your ability to create a solution to it. 

You can't forcibly give someone an opportunity.  That's not what "opportunity" means.  That's not what "give" means, either.  If you are taking charge and setting requirements, that's force, control, and coercion, not generosity and opportunity. 

If a pregnant person wants to visit a CPC or a member of the Christian clergy who isn't available on weekends, and get counseling, there is nothing in this universe stopping them from waiting an extra couple days to do so before returning to the clinic or making their second appointment.  Nothing.  At.  All.  They already have the opportunity to do so.  They have the opportunity to wait as long as they need to before making a decision. 

I have an idea.  Why don't we force generously give everyone the opportunity to consider their decision to undergo ALL elective medical procedures?  Institute three day waiting periods before tooth whitening.  Before rhinoplasties and breast augmentation.  Before gastric bypass surgery.  Before wart removal.  Before laser vision surgery.  Before vasectomies.  Don't the people undergoing all these things also deserve the opportunity to consider their decision and seek out second opinions and counseling from their natural support network, including their hypothetical clergy?  I mean, if that's the logic we're operating on, why restrict our legislative generosity only to pregnant people?  Let's give EVERYONE lots of time to think about their medical choices before they do anything. 

Weekends and holidays not included, of course.

*I just heard a bit ago that the SD House passed the measure; I'm unclear on whether the SD Senate has also done so and it's on to the governor yet or if there's still a chance to stop it before it goes that far.


Anti-Choice Hypocrisy, Teens and Parents' Rights Edition

Let me start by saying I'm glad this case turned out the way it did.  I think what the parents were doing to her was despicable and fucked-up and crossing a line into outright abusive, and I'm happy that the court sided with her against her parents.

But I have one question.

What makes this case, where the parents were going to force a young woman to have an abortion, different from a situation in which parents force their teen to have a baby?

Because they are different.  Anti-choicers will applaud the fuck out of "parents' rights!" and such when it comes time to restrict a young person's ability to make their own decision about ending their pregnancy, when their decision is to have an abortion - witness anti-choicers' repeated and often-successful efforts to pass the most restrictive possible versions of parental consent/notification laws, which require a teenager to at least notify, and in many cases get a permission slip from, their parents before having an abortion.  Which gives the parents the opportunity to interfere, thus forcing the pregnant teen to give birth.*

Yet they're also applauding the fuck out of this case, where the court sided with the young woman in question to override the "parents' rights" in order to let her make her own decision about ending her pregnancy.

Good gods.  The malodorous stench of hypocrisy is so thick in here, I may need a gas mask.

Which is it, anti-choicers?  Do you support the rights of the parents to control which medical procedures a teenager may, may not, or must undergo?  If so, why are you viewing this court case as a victory?  It specifically placed an injunction against the parents' attempts to assert their "rights" to control their daughter's reproductive health.  It placed the teen's wishes and choices above the parents' "rights" to make fertility decisions for her.

And if you support the right of pregnant teens to make their own reproductive health decisions independently of their parents' wishes, as your behavior regarding this case suggests, then why have a large portion of your legislative efforts historically been dedicated to attempting to enact laws that require parental consent before a minor undergoes an abortion?  You'll take "notification" if that's all you can get, but you're always angling for "consent" whenever possible, and y'all have gotten pretty fucking stingy about those judicial bypass clauses too, putting as many obstacles as possible between a pregnant teen and their ability to make independent choices about their pregnancy.

So with one hand, you work to enact laws that take decisions about a minor's reproductive health and fertility out of that minor's hands and place them firmly under parental control, while with the other, you work to give those decisions back to the minor even if it means getting a court to overrule the parents' control.

And you do this based purely on which decision the teen is making and how that aligns with your opinion on how the situation should be handled.

Either you trust teens to make their own reproductive health choices, or you don't.  If you're going to help and be happy for this girl because she gained the legal ability to choose for herself how to manage her pregnancy, then you damn well ought to be extending that same courtesy to young people who need that legal ability to make their own decisions, even if you don't agree with the decision in question.

Because "More rights...for people who agree with me, and fuck the rest of you, I will legally force you to "agree" with me too!" is in no way a morally-sound position to take.  And since y'all are so attached to your notions of being on the moral high ground, you might want to attend to that little problem.

*And indeed, I've heard some horror stories about parents who refused to sign consent forms for epidurals or other pain medications during labor, to "teach her a lesson she won't forget".  It's not about "preventing abortion" - that's just the mechanism by which it works.  The true intent is to force them to give birth.*


Who should we entrust with the care and teaching of our children?

So, let me get this straight. 

A teacher, who had performed in porn prior to her teaching career, can be fired for her past conduct because her students and colleagues are hateful whorephobic fucks who couldn't remember that a sex worker, former or current, is also a human being who deserves respect, with the district superintendent saying that her past experiences in sex work are "incompatible with her responsibilities as a role model for students"...

...but a school counselor who openly says, on the news, that gay kids have no purpose in life unless they un-gay themselves and become straight Christian kids is just "expressing her First Amendment rights," and so no disciplinary action will be taken.

What the flaming, festering fuck?

Does the school counselor not also have responsibilities as a role model for students?  Are gay students not also students for whom this counselor is responsible for being a good role model to?  How can she be a good role model for students who she has already told she believes are worthless and without purpose? 

How is one's past history, which would not have been known to the kids she taught at all, if her colleagues hadn't found her videos and downloaded them onto their phones to share around and show the principal (what a way to treat a colleague, huh?), somehow worse than a recent statement made in a very public forum advocating overt discrimination against a section of the student body for which one is responsible?

Chose at one point in the past to use your body to engage in sex on camera to make money, which you no longer choose to do and have not since becoming an educator?  FOREVER IRREDEEMABLE SHOULD NOT EVER BE PERMITTED TO EXIST IN THE PRESENCE OF DELICATE, PRECIOUS, INNOCENT CHILDREN LEST THEIR HEARTS BE TAINTED BY YOUR SLUTTINESS.


This is a truly sickening clusterfuck of misogyny, slut-shaming, whorephobia, homophobia, and Christian supremacy in action.  Look at all the messages being sent:
  • Once a woman engages in sex work, she is forever worthless and should expect to be thrown aside once any non-sex-work profession she attempts to move into gets wind of her past. 
  • Women's sexuality is hot and belongs on-camera, but once a woman has put her sexuality on camera, that's the only place she belongs and the only thing she should expect to do forever because she has sullied herself for anything else. 
  • If you find out that someone you work with as an equal was once a sex worker, you are freed from all obligation to treat her with respect, and it's fine to share around the evidence of her prior career among other colleagues while at work.
  • If her effectiveness in the classroom is compromised by the blatant and disgusting disrespect and shaming aimed at her by colleagues and students alike, the solution is not to enforce codes of conduct that require everyone to behave their damn selves, but just to throw her out on her ass instead.
  • Advocating discrimination against as many as possibly one in ten of the kids you serve, telling children who are in a high-risk category for self-harm and suicide that they're worthless and their lives have no purpose, is totally fine, and you'll be protected from consequences. 
  • Gay children's emotional and mental health isn't worth protecting, and they should be expected to still work with and under the "guidance" of someone who has outright told them they're worthless, so long as she said it because Jesus.
Fuck every single person involved in the handling of both of these situations.  Principals, colleagues, judges, superintendents, everyone.  Y'all can just rot in hell for being terrible, terrible examples of human beings.


Abortion Tourism

Here's a hilaritragic word of the day for you: "abortion tourism"

Which of course just makes me think about like...abortion cruises*, destination abortions, abortion getaways, guided abortion tours...

But according to a clinic worker who testified at a hearing earlier this week in Alabama, on a new TRAP law** that could shut down all the remaining clinics in the state, it was used in earnest.  (Well...as earnest as Republicans ever get in their maximum plausible deniability mode when they're trying to explain away their actions with the guise of "concern" for women.)  When confronted with their obvious motivation of trying to close down all the remaining clinics, they claimed that they weren't doing any such thing, but such regulations were needed to stop Alabama from becoming a "haven of abortion tourism".

I, um...wait, what?

I just have two questions for these...people.
  1. What exactly is so wrong with so-called "abortion tourism"?  An abortion is an abortion is an abortion, whether it takes place in New York or Indiana or Nevada or anywhere else.  Please explain to me how traveling to obtain an abortion in another state is somehow worse than obtaining an abortion in your state of residence.  Explain it to me like I'm 2, because this does not make any sense whatsoever.  More specifically, explain it to me in a way that makes sense without relying on the premise that "women shouldn't be able to wiggle out of the laws we instituted to give us control over their bodies."  Because it sounds an awful lot like that's exactly your problem, that some people will be able to escape your control - and "maintain our (illegal and gained by deceptive piecemeal restrictions since a true ban is unconstitutional) control over the bodies and decisions of pregnant people by keeping them trapped in states where we've managed to functionally ban legal abortion without banning it" is a downright abusive goal. 
  2. And how exactly does your TRAP law prevent such "abortion tourism"...without closing the available clinics?  This makes even less sense than the objection to the concept itself.  I mean, you're using "regulatory non-compliance" as your smokescreen here, but as soon as it becomes about "abortion tourism", that smokescreen blows right away.  Are wider hallways and larger elevators going to keep non-Alabamans away?  Perhaps you believe non-Alabamans couldn't bring themselves to get their abortion from a doctor with an Alabama medical license and admitting privileges at a local hospital?  Please, explain how regulations ostensibly intended to "protect the safety of women" seeking those services will cut down on the number of people able to access those services?  Because that's...not what safety regulations are for, nor is it what they do when applied properly.  So if you intend for your so-called "safety" regulations to reduce the rate of use of the service they're being applied to, UR DOIN IT WRONG.
So not only are the GOP trying to sneak de facto abortion bans past the Constitutionality issue - what's that hissy they always throw about Dems "disrespecting the Constitution" and such? - they're being a bunch of lying liars who lie about the issue.

Stellar morals there, guys.  And you wonder why you have to resort to electioneering and voter suppression to keep from being rendered utterly irrelevant as a party.

*Paging Women on Waves...
**Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.  Things like requiring admitting privileges, forcing abortion clinics to adhere to more stringent building codes by reclassifying them as "hospitals" or something more strictly regulated than regular outpatient clinics, playing zoning games, using administrative pressure and unreasonable reporting requirements to try to shut down as many clinics as possible.


Shitting on abuse survivors: totally the Christian thing to do.

The Violence Against Women Act, which provides funds and programs to help victims/survivors of domestic violence and all kinds of abuse, is the sort of thing you'd think would be a no-brainer for wide bipartisan support.  Who could be against helping women who've been abused?  Only actual abusers themselves, right?  Or abuse apologists?

Or, apparently, devout professional Christians.

The FRC seem to be shitting their pants over this mainly because the current update to VAWA would help those gross unnatural queer women, illegals who deserve whatever they get for being in this country in the first place, and Native women who haven't had the courtesy to die off and stop reminding us of our genocidal roots.

I mean, I'm trying to be hyperbolic here, but I kind of feel like it's not that far from the truth.  Those are the things they cite in their opposition - that they can't approve of a bill which has provisions to help queer women (because that's "giving them special rights"), undocumented immigrants, etc.  Their contempt is further measured by their claim that the Democrats added these oh-so-awful pieces to the bill purely in order to force Republicans to oppose it so the Dems can point to it as evidence that the GOP is anti-woman.

First of all, we didn't need additional evidence.  Y'all trumpet your misogyny to the skies each and every damn day.  You are to the point where people are trying to hold workshops to teach you fuckers to keep your goddamn mouths shut about women's issues because of the massive backlash every time you speak.  WE KNOW you're anti-woman.  It's never been up for debate.

But second of all, it's disgusting that the only reason they can apparently think of for specifically ensuring that underserved and more-vulnerable populations receive the help they need is for political maneuvering.  Not because there are people who need help.  Only because politics.

Projection complex, thy name is the GOP.

Oh, but it's not just that the bill specifically looks to help someone other than straight white American citizens.  It's that, and the money:
You can help by contacting your Senators and urging them to vote against VAWA and end the real abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Emphasis original. 

So let me get this straight: women being repeatedly assaulted, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually: not really abuse, why are we wasting our time on this?  The government spending money to help those women: ABUSE!  SHUT IT DOWN RIGHT NOW STOP ABUSING MY WALLET WAHHHH

I feel like a fucking broken record here, but Republicans, JFC your priorities are terrible.


Sen. Campfield, what the fuck did I JUST say about not wanting to write about you any more?

It is becoming more and more clear that Stacey Campfield is the sort of man who should not be in a position of authority over an amoeba, much less any more complex life-forms.  Check out this breathtakingly condescending and ableist response to a constituent of his, who emailed to criticize his recent legislative grandstanding:

Telisha Cobb:  Senator Campfield, I am writing to you today as a mother, active citizen, and born and raised Tennessean.  You are an embarrassment to our great state.  Folks all over the country and here in Tennessee are looking at the bills you are proposing in shock.  They are the most ignorant and morally lacking legislation that could be proposed this year.  It is clear that you are targeting homosexuals and low-income families with hogwash legislation.  You need to search your heart, your values and your Christianity to find a better way to represent us as a whole.  We will do everything in our power to make sure you are not here in 2014.  There are numerous grass roots parties that are making their voices heard.
Stacey Campfield:  You seem to have some serious, deep anger issues.  Have you ever thought about therapy?  I hear they are doing some wonderful things with medications these days.
What.  The.  Unholy.  Fuck.

Her email was simple, direct, dignified, and professional, a simple statement of "This stuff you're doing is Very Not Okay.  Stop it."  And to this, he thought it was acceptable to, in essence, tell her that she's crazy for disagreeing with him and should be medicated until she agrees?

Which is reprehensible in and of itself, but then you get into all the ways that a powerful white man telling a woman (of color?  I would guess so from the pictures I found but I don't know if she identifies as such) that she's "angry" and needs therapy or medications draws on a whole history of pathologizing women's anger and dissent as a major avenue of structural misogyny, and it gets about 100000x uglier.

Kitten, you seem to have forgotten how this whole elected-representative-thing works.  You are not the lord of your own little fiefdom by virtue of having been elected.  You are a representative - that is, you are there to represent the people who elected you.  And if they feel you are doing a poor job of representing them, they have every right in the world to tell you so and demand that you shape the fuck up, because while elected official/voter doesn't quite analogize with an employer/employee situation, it's close enough, and YOU ARE NOT THE EMPLOYER.  You are the worker.  And your bosses are hauling your ass in for a performance review and/or write-up for failure to adequately perform your job duties.  Which makes it absurdly inappropriate to sass them and display this kind of condescendingly rude attitude.  When the people who gave you your job call you on the carpet for wasting company time and resources on being an asshole, you listen up and change your ways, or your ass is out on the curb.

For someone who is an official in a democratic system of government, you have an awful lot of contempt for citizen input, which is one of the core mechanisms by which any sort of democracy operates.  Somehow I'm thinking you'd do better playing God on your own little private island somewhere.  Why don't you go try that instead of trying to play God here the U.S.?

And by the way, Stacey?  Yeah, they are doing some pretty amazing things with medications.  I'm on some of them and they've fucking changed my life.

But I still think you're a reprehensible shitbag with the morals of a bloodsucking insect, and my opinion and anger are in no way invalidated by the medication I take.

Fuck off back to the cesspit you crawled out of, you suppurating anal sore.

That angry enough for you?



Conservatives keep finding new ways to surprise and delight/horrify me.  It's pretty impressive, to be honest.  Today's hilaritragic dose of "Excuse me, in which reality do you live?  It sounds like a fascinating place to visit!" comes from Kevin Swanson of Generations Radio, a conservative Christian radio show based out of Colorado Springs:
[S]cientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery [have] compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.
A stick-figure comic of a political rally.  One figure in the crowd holds up a large sign reading [citation needed] in the style of Wikipedia's superscript notation of incomplete sources.

DEAD BABY GRAVEYARD WOMB is going to be the name of my death metal band, you guys.  I just can't let a name like that go to waste.  Either that, or the title of my memoirs.  Maybe both.  It sounds like the title of a Dethklok album, doesn't it? 
Nathan Explosion: This is metal... for [dead fetuses].
Skwisgaar Skwigelf: [dead fetuses] don't gots no good music to listen to.
William Murderface: Yeah, it's true.
Props to Mr. Hyperbole for working in the phrase "dead babies" or "little babies" three times in five sentences, I guess.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Say it over and over again and people will eventually believe it. 

Congratulations, Kevin Swanson.  Your hard-on for incredibly, absurdly inaccurate "science" and attempts to wring the most emotionally-compelling/viscerally disgusting insults out of it have, like vegangelicals and the "bloodmouths" thing, flopped so hard you've actually created a sweet new term for us to describe just how hardcore and metal our bodies are.

Thanks bro!

Mr. Campfield, back already?

The douchebubble who brought us death certificates for aborted fetuses, a bogus attempt to join the TN Senate Black Caucus (he then cried racism when they told him to GTFO), banning people on public assistance from winning the lottery (because clearly, people on welfare win the lottery ALL THE TIME and then stay on public assistance afterward, costing the state a metric ass-ton of money, right?), and the other day's cheerful "No grades, no food" bill, is back for another round. 

He's reviving last year's "Don't Say Gay" bill, which prohibits teachers and other staff at public schools from even mentioning homosexuality in any context for grades k-8, but with some fun new additions.  Specifically:
At grade levels pre-K through eight (pre-K-8), any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited.
LEA policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this section shall not prohibit:
A school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal from counseling a student who is engaging in, or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and wellbeing of the student or another person; provided, that wherever possible such counseling shall be done in consultation with the student's parents or legal guardians. Parents or legal guardians of students who receive such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such counseling has occurred
Bolded is the new addition to the law.  The thing is, it's kinda sneaky.  Ostensibly it's just about making sure the parents know if their child is in trouble and might need help, and that's what conservatives will (and maybe already have, I haven't checked yet) claim as defense against it being pointed out that they're trying to legally compel outing children to their families.  (In fact, at first glance, that's what I thought.  For about half a second.)  But look at where it is in the law, and what it's attached to.  You can't in one breath you say "You can't talk about Teh Gay..." and in the next say "...except if the kid is in need of counseling and then you have to tell their parents" without the very strong implication that counseling a student *for* Teh Gay is what needs to be reported to the parents. 

This gets especially sinister if you're familiar with some of the common right-wing fundie arguments against non-het sexuality.  They genuinely consider it - non-het sexuality itself - to be disordered behavior, perversion, inherently harmful.  To them, two women who have been together for thirty years, never cheated, no abuse, no major issues at all, still as blissfully in love as the day they met, are harming themselves and each other simply by being together.  Take that and make it about teenagers, about whom conservatives are already having several large litters of kittens over their hormones and sex drive and the possibility that they might not remain utterly chaste and have their first kiss at their ultra-het church wedding...and any sign of Teh Gay could instantly be taken as "potentially harmful behavior".

So for all the plausible-deniability of "it's not about gay, it's about troubled children who need help!", it's not even the slightest stretch, especially in that area of the country, to imagine evangelical Christian school staff "counseling" a child simply because they believe the kid to be non-het, because they do believe it to be "behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and wellbeing of the student" - and then, per the new requirements, making a call to Mom and Dad to tell them "I think your child has a case of Teh Gay".  And who gives a shit what happens then, amirite?  It's not like GSM youths make up some 40% of the homeless population in that age bracket, despite being only 5-10% of the total population.  Not like anti-gay parents have ever, like, abused their gay children, or had them faux-kidnapped and sent to isolated abuse camps to try to "convert" them.  No, I'm sure a non-het kid being outed to a potentially anti-gay family is totally and completely safe.

And when I finish this sentence and stand up, a unicorn will materialize out of my ass.

Please, Campfield, stop wasting everyone's time with your reprehensible, harmful garbage legislation.  Crawl back into the hole you came out of.  I would very much like to not have to type your name ever again.  Kthx.


Making the rights of children dependent on their grades, Part 2

Just yesterday I posted about the Senator in Tennessee who wants to make TANF assistance payments to families conditional on how well the children are doing in school.  Today, the Universe saw fit to deliver Round Two of this sort of fuckery to me, in the form of a school in Maryland making religious accommodations for Muslim students conditional on their grades.

Gosh, why didn't anyone ever tell me that the human rights of children - rights to food, shelter, and religious expression - are contingent upon how well they please the almighty public education system?  "Get good grades" is not as simple as it generally sounds, for a variety of reasons ranging from developmental disabilities, different learning styles, difficulties with particular subjects, or simply being the kind of kid whose unconventional personality and academic style is "unacceptable" by the rigid standards of the public school system.  (Show of hands, who here got in trouble, repeatedly, for not showing your work or for using alternate methods to get your answers, because it made more sense to you than the "right" way of doing it - even if you still got the correct answer?  *raises hand*) 

This comes down to ageism and Islamophobia, pure and simple.  Islamophobia because they're certainly not requiring Christian students to get good grades before being allowed to wear a cross or pray before class.  Ageism because I'd love to see a workplace try to make legally-required religious accommodations contingent on your latest performance review.  Just imagine the shitstorm that would kick up! 

For bonus fuckery points, this "accommodation" - and I hesitate to call it that, because can you call a conditional concession that must be earned a real accommodation? - only came about after some Muslim students began praying during the day at school, and teachers got upset and tried to make them stop, telling them "this is a Christian school".

By the way, Parkdale High School is a public school.

At which point the principal stepped in - good for her, I guess?  Really I shouldn't have to feel approval of that course of action, it's the bare minimum requirement of school management, caring for the needs of all one's students equally, but there are plenty who wouldn't have said anything, or would have supported the teachers in their harassment of Muslim students. - and came up with this "compromise".  I just want to ask, why was a compromise necessary?  Why could she not have just told the teachers to STFU and look up the 1st Amendment as pertains to education, and given Muslim students the accommodations they needed without making it conditional? 

Oh.  Right.  Because fuck fairness, when it comes to children, Muslims, or Muslim children.


People seeking abortions may only think about their decisions on business days, according to South Dakota

In the chip-chip-chip fight to render Roe a meaningless statute by eroding access to abortion services until we have the right, but not the ability, to access it, waiting periods have been a core piece of the movement.  Force people to make two visits to the clinic, which makes it harder for people who don't live near the clinic, which very few people do at this point what with absurd over-zoning and regulation forcing clinics out of business.  Force people to have to arrange rides, time off work, childcare, or missing class not once, but twice, possibly missing out on an extra day's pay in the process.  Make the whole thing drag a little more and hope that some of them tip over into the 2nd trimester while they have to wait, so that it becomes even more difficult, costly, and time-consuming to get that abortion.  And do it all under the plausible deniability of "we just want to make sure you don't do something you'll regret!  We are helping by making sure you take lots...of...time...to think about this (because we assume you haven't already thought about this, because if you had, obviously you wouldn't have decided to do it, Q.E.D.)."

And last year, if you'll recall, South Dakota made infamy by insitituting the longest waiting period thus far, at 72 hours (most states that have it are 24 hours, though I think there might be a couple 48s). 

Not satisfied with that, they're now trying to make those 72 hours stretch  e v e n   f u r t h e r  by specifying that they mean 72 hours, not including weekends and holidays.


So...if the ostensible point of waiting periods is about making sure pregnant people SIT DOWN AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING YOU FILTHY BABY-MURDERING WHORE take enough time to come to a reasonable decision so they don't do anything they'll later regret...what does it matter which days the sit-and-think period encompasses?  Are people incapable of considering serious, life-altering decisions* on their days off?**  If anything, I'd think that'd be when people have more time and leisure to consider major issues, when they're not busy taking care of work, kids, and/or school obligations.

It all makes perfect sense when you know what's really going on, whisper-thin veil of concern for pregnant people aside, but usually they try a little harder to hold on to that veil.  When they start proposing restrictions that no longer make even surface sense with their supposed reasoning, they're beginning to risk more people figuring out what's actually happening.  Which suggests two very scary possibilities, to me.  Either they really do believe that people won't notice, that the average public isn't paying enough attention to catch the disconnect and suss out their real motivation (and what scares me here is the possibility that they're right) - or they are so confident in their political power after all the gerrymandering bullshit of late that they don't care how it looks, they're sure it'll go through anyway, and that's all that matters to them.

Like I said.  Scary possibilities.

*It's a serious, life-altering decision for some, but not for all; I phrase it this way because that's the framing that always surrounds this issue when we talk waiting periods.
**Not that weekends and holidays are everyone's days off, though a lot of people forget that.  Retail and food service don't stop for holidays and weekends.  And considering that it's low-income people, like those who work retail and service industry jobs, who are generally most affected by abortion restrictions, it sort of makes this doubly shitty by imposing a more or less irrelevant concept of "non-work days" on the people it's enforced against.


State Sen. Campfield to TN kids: "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

Or rather, in this case, "The starvings will continue until your grades improve!"

By which I mean, he has proposed a bill to punish the families of underachieving children on public assistance by decreasing their TANF allotment (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, ie, food and living subsidies).

"How are your grades, little Timmy?  Well, no pressure or anything, but we could get kicked out of our apartment and end up in a shelter if your grades aren't up to snuff!  Have a great day at school, kiddo."  Because as we all know, children learn best under pressure and threats of starving their whole family.  It's a motivation thing.

And the whole ugly affair gets even grosser, if you read his own words on the subject:
One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education. To achieve a quality education is like a three legged stool. The state has put a lot of responsibility on schools and teachers to improve student performance. If the children don't produce, it could impact the pay of the teacher and the standing of the school with the state. We have pushed two of the three legs of the student performance (teachers and schools) to improve, and they are. ... The third leg of the stool (probably the most important leg) is the parents. We have done little to hold them accountable for their child's performance. What my bill would do is put some responsibility on parents for their child's performance.
First of all, "If the children don't produce"?  Produce?  Are we talking about schools here, or child labor factories?  Come on, Mr. Campfield, let that ill-fitting compassion mask slip a little further and show us the full extent of your disdain for poor children and how you're already seeing them as future disposable worker-commodities.

Secondly, are you just completely unaware of the fact that children are dependent upon their parents to provide food/shelter/etc.?  Children don't exist in a vacuum.  Putting "responsibility" and "accountability" - ie, punishments - on the parents transfers those effects directly to the kids, who are relying on their parents to be able to care for them.  So you can cloak it in "parental responsibility" language all you like, but it still comes out to punishing children for bad grades by TAKING THEIR FUCKING FOOD AND HOUSING AWAY.  And there is absolutely no possible circumstance in which that is anything but a hideously, grossly unethical and immoral thing to do.  (But of course, Stacey Campfield has a 100% rating with Tennessee Right to Life, and sponsored a bill in 2007 to issue death certificates to aborted fetuses.  He's very consistent that way.  All about caring for the lives of children, amirite?)

Thirdly and most importantly, this completely and utterly fails to take into account the sorts of structural barriers to excelling at school that poor children ALREADY FACE.  Kids are already under stress when their family is struggling with poverty, both stress within the family - especially if there are issues of food scarcity, which has effects on a child both physiologically and psychologically - and from the fact that kids are evil, nasty, bullying little shits sometimes, and poor kids make a great target for that kind of bully.  Additionally, children who have learning disabilities or illnesses - mental or physical - that make school more difficult are less likely than their economically well-off peers to receive the interventions and accommodations they need, which further sabotages their ability to do well in school.  Then you have older - teenage - kids in poverty-level households who may well be trying to hold down jobs in order to help their families get by, which takes time away from schoolwork.

He frames it as "Parents are responsible to make sure their kids are ready for school and that they get an education." Which, again, shows stunning ignorance of what families in poverty are having to do to get by.  Parents who are struggling to make ends meet often just don't have time to do the suburban-middle-class "make sure your kids have a nutritious breakfast, drop them off at school, pick them up after school, and help them with their homework" thing.  That takes time and energy that the parents are already expending just trying to make ends meet.

So to sum up, this absurdity of a proposal specifically targets those children who are already struggling the most with school, sets up a hard-line target that doesn't take any variance in circumstances into account, then threatens to punish those who don't meet the requirement by pushing their whole fucking family even further into poverty.

What part of that sounded like a good idea to you, Senator?

And is it just me, or is there a "welfare queens" sort of dogwhistle in there, too?  The whole thing, especially the fact that it hinges on rhetoric of "parental responsibility" and parents "not doing their job [of making sure their kids do well in school]", seems designed to evoke the image of lazy welfare-dependent adults who are just not bothering to help their kids out of apathy or spite.

See, class, here we have a truly stunning shitshow of ignorance, arrogance, classism, racism, and paternalism, held together with BOOTSTRAPS GODDAMNIT.

Congratulations, Mr. Campfield.  You are officially the douchiest Republican I've seen in the last few days.  Which, considering the state of your party, is actually kind of an accomplishment.  I hope you can look back fondly on this experience from your post-political career in the very near future after the people you claim to represent toss you out on your ass.


Quote of the Day

What will religion look like in the year 2060? Conservative Christians will be treated as second class citizens, much like African Americans were prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Family as we know it will be drastically changed with the state taking charge of the children beginning at birth. Marriage will include two, three, four or any number of participants. Marriage will not be important, with individuals moving in and out of a 'family' group at will. Churchbuildings will be little used, with many sold to secular buyers and the money received going to the government. Churches will not be allowed to discuss any political issues, even if it affects the church directly. Tax credit given to churches and non-profit organizations will cease. Christian broadcasting will be declared illegal based on the separation of church and state. The airwaves belong to the government, therefore they cannot be used for any religious purpose. We will have, or have had, a Muslim president. Cities with a name from the Bible such as St. Petersburg, Bethlehem, etc. will be forced to change their name due to separation of church and state. Groups connected to any religious affiliation will be forced out of health care. Health centers get tax money from the state, making it a violation of church and state. Get involved! Sign THE STATEMENT."
- The [White, Straight, Rich, Nuclear, Christian] American Family Association, in an email designed to make privileged asshats very, very afraid indeed.

There is only one possible response to this.

A screen-cap from the old Spiderman cartoon. Spidey is pointing urgently at something off-screen, and two policemen beside him are laughing.  Macro-style text on the image reads "LOOK AT HIM. LOOK AT HIM AND LAUGH."

This Should Be Interesting...

I've complained before about the IRS' privileging of churches and religious organizations.  My complaints were generally more about churches being totally tax-exempt despite their politicking, which has gotten bolder and bolder in its forays over the border between "non-specific beliefs that have political ramifications" and "telling people how to vote or who to vote for" - and the IRS has done nothing about it.

These two lawsuits, however, take up against different religion-specific tax rules, ones I hadn't even known existed.  Apparently, churches and affiliated organizations which have 501(c)(3) status or want to acquire such don't have to pay application fees, which secular non-profits do - and these are not $20 copay type fees; apparently, they can run up to $850.  Which isn't *that* much to most big orgs, but a lot of starting-out non-profits don't have a generous budget, and so this takes a big bite out of what they can do as they're getting set up.  Additionally, churches and religious organizations aren't required to submit yearly financial information filings, which secular non-profits do.   When the IRS itself estimates a total of 211 work-hours to complete the relevant filing?  That's not a small inconvenience.  The informational filings are public information, and must include the names of any donors who give over $5,000.  People who want to donate fuckbuckets of money to churches to carry out their (frequently political) work can do so in anonymity, but if you want to donate to a secular non-profit, your contribution goes on public record.

I don't know enough about the relevant laws and precedents to speculate on these cases.  But I think it'll be interesting to see how they play out, and if it might help lay groundwork for further challenges to churches as tax-exempt demi-political organizations (for those who choose to behave that way).


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