Sunday Roast: For Some Folks, Life is a Hill

Trail_to_Red_Hill_Summit

Having been off for a week, listening to crashing Pacific waves, breathing salt air, reading, reading, more reading, and getting my head straight (kinda, sorta, pretty much), Mr Blow asked me, via facebook, to read his column for tomorrow.  I agreed to do so, and, for me, this column is very powerful.  What do you think?

Charles M. Blow, The New York Times

I strongly reject the concept of respectability politics, which postulates that a style of dress or speech justifies injustice, and often violence, against particular groups of people or explains away the ravages of their inequality.

I take enormous exception to arguments about the “breakdown of the family,” particularly the black family, that don’t acknowledge that this country for centuries has endeavored, consciously and not, to break it down. Or that family can be defined only one way.

I don’t buy into the mythology that most poor people are willfully and contentedly poor, happy to live with the help of handouts from a benevolent big government that is equally happy to keep them dependent.

These are all arguments based on shame, meant to distance traditional power structures from emerging ones, to allow for draconian policy arguments from supposedly caring people. These arguments require faith in personal failure as justification for calling our fellow citizens feckless or doctrinally disfavored.

Those who espouse such arguments must root for failures so that they’re proved right. They need their worst convictions to be affirmed: that other people’s woes are due solely to their bad choices and bad behaviors; that there are no systematic suppressors at play; that the way to success is wide open to all those who would only choose it.

Any of us in the country who were born poor, or minority, or female, or otherwise different — particularly in terms of gender or sexual identity — know better.

Please read the rest of the article here.

(photo source)

This is our daily open thread — How is everyone?

Watering Hole: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 – A Drug Free World Is A Fantasy

The “War on Drugs” is a complete failure.

This video is 58+ minutes so you may want to watch it when you have the time.

Some highlights from the video:

  • The illegal drug business is a $320 billion dollar industry.
  • The US has less than 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated poplution.
  • George H.W. Bush stated that if you use drugs, “you will be punished”.
  • The War on Drugs has created a mass prison-industrial complex.
  • Population of US prisoners:
    • 1970 = 330,000
    • 2012 = 2.3 million
    • More than any other country in the world.
    • Drugs are prevalent in prisons.
  • Governments try to stifle demand by advertising which has failed because:
    • People that use drugs like drugs.
    • People can see through the hypocrisy of legal alcohol/cigarettes/drugs vs. illegal drugs.
  • There are approximately 230 million world wide drugs users of which 90% are unproblematic.
  • President Carter went to Congress and requested to have drugs decriminalized.
  • 1979 – 10 states started the process to decriminalize (ME, NY, OH, NC, MS, MN, CO, OR, CA, AK).
  • Reagan put a stop to decriminalization and Nancy Reagan’s role in government was her anti-drug campaign of “Just Say No.”
  • 2009 – 1.6 million people were arrested and 1.3 million of those arrests were just for drugs with 1/2 of those arrests just for marijuana.
  • If drugs were legalized and regulated in the US, it would add $76 billion to the US economy.

At the 37 minute mark in the film, a world wide discussion begins on solutions to the “War on Drugs”.

Sign the petition here.

This is our Open Thread and reflects my opinion and not necessarily the opinion of other members of The Zoo.  Now it is your turn to Speak Up!

Sunday Roast: A Slut Manifesto

(Mother Jones)

Dear Reader, if you are a woman, do you think you could never be branded a “slut?”  You dress in a manner society has deemed proper, your hair properly lovely, your language is appropriate, you aren’t sleeping around (or at least you’re not talking about it).  Do you think all of that will prevent you from being christened with the “slut” label?

Well, dream on!  Look at Sandra Fluke:  She’s a third year law student at Georgetown University, looks pretty “normal,” and she was well-spoken in her testimony before a Democratic committee hearing (since she wasn’t allowed to testify in Darrell Issa’s hearing).  But she put a toe over an invisible line, in that she pissed off the head of the Republican party, namely, Rush Limbaugh.  It wasn’t that she really said anything outrageous; the problem was that she forgot her place.  Don’t ever think something like this can’t happen to you.  You’re a woman, aren’t you?

If you’re a “good” woman, don’t kid yourself. It means you’ve spent your life and will continue to spend your life calibrating your appearance, speech and behaviour so that you are not a slut. By not acknowledging how the word is used you are embracing its power over you and other girls and women. And you will pass that corrupt and misguided abuse of power on to your daughters and mine. That’s because you know, deep down, that at any point that word can be used against you. Every woman is a slut waiting to happen. Women who abhor the word, find it vulgar, and fear it, the ones who slut-shame others, gain a little bit of power by participating in a system that denigrates them.

No, Rush Limbaugh, you will not succeed in “slut-shaming” us back into your framework of what it means to be a woman.  The time is past for that sort of behavior by women, no matter what our political persuasion, thank you very much.  You’ve blathered on quite enough, and now the power of social media will take you down several notches, if not make you completely disappear from the public airwaves.

Here’s Soraya Chemaly’s “Slut Manifesto”:

BECAUSE we know what’s best for us and yes, we do “deserve better”
BECAUSE we know that we are more than our wombs
BECAUSE we believe no double standards, including sexual ones, should exist
BECAUSE we believe we have the right to control our own reproduction
BECAUSE we will not be complicit in our own oppression by conforming to perversely-constructed rules about how women and men should behave
BECAUSE we understand basic science, embrace diversity, and are part of the modern world
BECAUSE we believe that how we dress does not give a man the right to rape a woman, spit on a female child or publicly strip another human being to humiliate them
BECAUSE we will not be silenced by bullies and thugs and will speak openly, politically and with conviction about important issues that affect us in the public space
BECAUSE we are justifiably angry
BECAUSE we, and the men who think as we do, are the future and will transform this planet

We will speak, write, march, run for office and vote.

That about covers the situation.

In the words of the great author, Rebecca West:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

This is our daily open thread — If we don’t buy into their bullshit, they can’t continue to spread it around.

Civilization in an Eggshell

Guest blog by Hoodathunk

Yesterday we had a brunchfast that relied pretty heavily on the magical chicken egg.   Poached eggs for the wee’uns, Crab Benedict for the more discerning palette and eggnog; so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I awoke at 4 am thinking about the dream I had about eggs.  Odd things my subconscious plays with in dreamland.

Consider your basic egg.  Nicely packaged, a comfortable incubator (at least for the mom) bringing forth a new generation of bird that can produce more eggs, be edible in its adult form, or provide hours of entertainment and appreciation with their songs or beauty.  All in all, the egg is a wondrous thing.  But I had never looked at it as an expression of society in an eggshell.

Man learned early on that the insides of your basic egg were both edible and nutritious in its natural state.  Then, when Ug learned about fire, it was discovered eggs could be cooked.  I suspect one was accidentally dropped on a hot rock and sunny side up was born.  Since then, eggs have become something of a staple in most societies.  And, as societies become more civilized, so does their treatment of the egg.  No more of this lop off the egg and slurp it down, no that will make you sick; the cholesterol, also a bad thing.

This is where civilized society comes in.  How many have gone to fry up an egg and tossed it because the yolk got broken in the process?  Or boiled and decorated eggs at Easter and ended up tossing some when they got too old?  Eggs are pretty cheap so it isn’t a really big deal — unless you happen to be starving.  But we have, for the most part, gone beyond that point.  We take eggs for granted because there are literally millions, if not billions, of chickens out there just a clucking and a dumping.  We just go merrily along quiche-ing, custard-ing, caking, dressing up our lives with the hard work of hens because it isn’t like they mind being kept in cramped, unsanitary quarters, living on chicken feed so we can use the efforts of their labor to pamper ourselves.

This is juxtaposed to a memory from my childhood.  We would go to the grandparents’ farm on weekends and help out.  This was done so we could get a few good meals while providing my Mom’s parents with much needed assistance in running the farm.  One of my jobs was tending the chicken coop.  I had to collect the eggs, then feed the feathered beasts, and then clean the nests.  I was not allowed to carry the basket of eggs to the house because dropping an egg was something of a minor catastrophe.  The dog liked it but it meant a smaller helping of scrambled eggs for me.  Each and every one of those ovoids were important, just as the chickens themselves were.  Not exactly life or death but they could spell the difference between going to bed with a full tummy or a growling one.

What our civilized society is doing, both on the microcosm and macrocosm level, is that we aren’t taking care of the chickens.  We are gobbling up the eggs, while wasting a great many of them, thinking there will always be more.  We are distancing ourselves from the very things that have brought us to this point.  Our greed blinds us to the workings of nature because we think it will always be there, and if we have this magical paper in our pockets, everything will be fine.

Work in a chicken coop?  Ewwwww, gross!

Breaking News: New York State’s Marriage Equality Act – Almost There? PASSED!

Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the religious exemptions amendment to Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act, 36-26. This is an exciting and important step forward, bringing the MEA much closer to becoming a reality.

State Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) made the all-important move from undecided to ‘Yes’.

Watch the live feed from the New York State Senate here, as Senator Saland is going to speak shortly.

Also, Rachel Maddow is covering this live.

10:30pm UPDATE!!! By a vote of 33-29, the New York State Senate becomes the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a Marriage Equality Bill.

“Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day!

Hounddog Hounded by Fundamentalists

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Dakota Fanning

Dakota Fanning

Hounddog, a disturbing R-Rated film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival recently. is a story about a 9 year old girl, played by Dakota Fanning (who is 14), who uses Elvis Presley’s music as an escape from her lousy life. Fanning plays a girl who is abused by her father and, in one scene in the movie, is brutally raped by a 17 year old boy after being duped into stripping for tickets to an Elvis concert. The film is set in the 1950′s

The film contains no nudity or explicit violence – it is all implied (which is often the case in many of the best films in American cinematic history). You can read the script of the rape scene in question here.

The group Concerned Women for America has waged a national campaign to halt release of this film.

Concerned Women for America is a conservative Christian political action group active in the United States. The group was founded in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Christian Coalition co-founder Timothy LaHaye, as a response to activities by the National Organization for Women and a 1978 Barbara Walters interview with noted feminist Betty Friedan.

CWFA’s mission:

We are the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 28-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy. We help people focus on six core issues, which we have determined need Biblical principles most and where we can have the greatest impact.

And what are some of their areas of discontent?

  • Opposition to LGBT rights
  • Opposition to Abortion’ rights
  • Abstinence-only sex education
  • Promotion of Christianity
  • Censorship and the media
  • Hotel pornography

The Watcher says of the Fanning film:

People on all sides of the political spectrum are up in arms over one particular scene in which Fanning’s character, Lewellen, is raped by an adult. Most notably, of course, fundies are upset, because they believe that they’re the only ones allowed to have sex with children.

Ooh, sorry. Anyway, you might be asking yourself some questions at this point. “Is the Watcher going to make fun of someone opposed to the rape scene? Is the Watcher pro-kiddie porn?” The answers are yes and no. As in yes, I’m about to make fun of a fundie who opposes the rape scene, and no, I am not in favor of kiddie porn. Obviously.

But the reason we have laws against child pornography is because children will be harmed psychologically by sexual encounters. I should know; it used to be my job to work with these kids. Trust me, it is NOT pretty.

So, was Dakota Fanning harmed psychologically by the production of this particular movie, and this particular scene?

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