Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/quebec-truncheon-law-rebounds-student-strike

A draconian law to quell demonstrations has only galvanised public support for young Quebecois protesting tuition fee hikes


guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 May 2012

At a tiny church tucked away in a working-class neighbourhood in Montreal’s east end, Quebec’s new outlaws gathered on Sunday for a day of deliberations. Aged mostly between 18 and 22, their membership in a progressive student union has made them a target of government scorn and scrutiny. And they have been branded a menace to society because of their weapons: ideas of social justice and equal opportunity in education, alongside the ability to persuade hundreds of thousands to join them in the streets.

Under a draconian law passed by the Quebec government on Friday, their very meeting could be considered a criminal act. Law 78 – unprecedented in recent Canadian history – is the latest, most desperate manoeuvre of a provincial government that is afraid it has lost control over a conflict that began as a student strike against tuition hikes but has since spread into a protest movement with wide-ranging social and environmental demands.

Labelled a “truncheon law” by its critics, it imposes severe restrictions on the right to protest. Any group of 50 or more protesters must submit plans to police eight hours ahead of time; they can be denied the right to proceed. Picket lines at universities and colleges are forbidden, and illegal protests are punishable by fines from $5,000 to $125,000 for individuals and unions – as well as by the seizure of union dues and the dissolution of their associations.

In other words, the government has decided to smash the student movement by force.

The government quickly launched a public relations offensive to defend itself. Full-page ads in local newspapers ran with the headline: “For the sake of democracy and citizenship.” Quebec’s minister of public security, Robert Dutil, prattled about the many countries that have passed similar laws:

“Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints – first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect the public.”

Such language is designed to make violence sound benevolent and infamy honourable. But it did nothing to mask reality for those who have flooded the streets since the weekend and encountered police emboldened by the new legislation. Riot squads beat and tear-gassed people indiscriminately, targeted journalists, pepper-sprayed bystanders in restaurants, and mass-arrested hundreds, including more than 500 Wednesday night – bringing the tally from the last three months of protest to a record Canadian high of more than 2,500. The endless night-time drone of helicopters has become the serenade song of a police state.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/quebec-truncheon-law-rebounds-student-strike

Chicago police clash with Nato summit protesters

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

Arrests and injuries as thousands march on downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting


guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 May 2012

The main anti-war march at the Chicago Nato summit was marred by clashes between police and protesters, with several people injured and 45 arrests.

Thousands of people marched towards McCormick Place in the downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting for the two-day summit.

However, the demonstration on Sunday ended in ugly scenes as police used batons to control the crowd. The violence came as a fifth person was charged with terrorism-related offences in in relation to alleged plots to disrupt the summit.

Sunday’s demonstration was the largest anti-war protest so far, after days of marches and protests in the city centre.

Gathering at Grant Park, thousands of protesters set off south towards the site of the summit, led by around 20 Iraq veterans against the war.

Arriving two blocks west of McCormick Place, the veterans, including Scott Olsen, the protester injured in Occupy Oakland demonstrations in October, staged a symbolic “returning” of their medals, tossing them in the direction of the sprawling conference space.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For: Gender Diversity, Scapegoating and Erasure in Medicine and Media

From GID Reform Blog:   http://gidreform.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/these-arent-the-droids-youre-looking-for-gender-diversity-scapegoating-and-erasure-in-medicine-and-media/

Kelley Winters, Ph.D.
GID Reform Advocates
www.gidreform.org
April 21, 2012

On the April 18th broadcast of The Rachel Maddow Show, Dr. Maddow reported an “explosive revelation” that Psychiatrist Robert Spitzer had rescinded his controversial 2001 claim that sexual conversion, or sexual reparative, psychotherapies can change sexual orientation in gay and lesbian people. Quoting an interview of Dr. Spitzer in The American Prospect, Maddow celebrated the historical significance of Spitzer’s reversal for the gay rights movement, calling it,

step one in what we’re now going to see as a real change, a real reckoning, in antigay politics.

Sadly, Dr. Maddow only told half of the story. For four decades, Robert Spitzer has played pivotal roles in mental health policies, not only on sexual orientation, but on gender diversity as well. This week, Rachel Maddow and other journalists turned a blind eye to Dr. Spitzer’s failure to retract a lifetime of trans psychopathologization, stereotyping gender identities and expression that differ from assigned birth roles as mental disease. This omission speaks to the marginal status of trans people within the GLbt rights movement and progressive media, as much as Spitzer’s omission speaks to trans marginalization by mental health policymakers. Shifting stigma from one oppressed class to a more oppressed class is not real change.

At the 1973 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Robert Spitzer played a central role in arguing for declassification of same-sex orientation as mental illness:

In the past, homosexuals have been denied civil rights in many areas of life on the ground that because they suffer from a ‘mental illness’ the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate their competence, reliability, or mental stability.

This led to the gradual deletion of sexual orientation categories from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) between 1973 and 1987. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and remains the medical and cultural definition of mental disorder in North America. As Chairman of the DSM-III and DSM-III-R Task Forces and chief editor of the diagnostic manual, Spitzer oversaw removal of the last major vestige of gay diagnosis, “Ego-dystonic Homosexuality,” from version III-R.

However, while depathologizing same-sex orientation, Dr. Spitzer simultaneously directed a massive expansion of trans-pathology diagnoses in the DSM. In 1980, a new category of Gender Identity Disorders (GID), including a Transsexualism (TS) diagnosis, was added to the class of Psychosexual Disorders in the DSM-III. The TS coding was paradoxical and controversial for many trans people. Many community advocates and medical providers agreed (and do today) that some kind of diagnostic coding was necessary to facilitate access to medical and/or surgical transition care for those trans and transsexual people who needed it.  On the other hand, defining a medical transition coding as a mental illness, rather than a treatable medical condition, contradicted access to hormonal and/or surgical transition care and encouraged gender conversion, or gender-reparative, psychotherapies– unsubstantiated treatments attempting to change gender identity and shame trans and TS people into the closets of their assigned birth roles.  Vulnerable trans and gender nonconforming youth were targeted and institutionalized as a consequence of diagnostic criteria based on nonconformity to birth-assigned stereotypes.

Continue reading at:  http://gidreform.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/these-arent-the-droids-youre-looking-for-gender-diversity-scapegoating-and-erasure-in-medicine-and-media/

Posted in Activism, Discrimination, Equal Treatment. Comments Off

Anonymous Declares Cyber War On US Congress Over Indefinite Detention Act

From Eurasia Review: http://www.eurasiareview.com/17122011-anonymous-declares-cyber-war-on-us-congress-over-indefinite-detention-act/

Written by:
December 17, 2011

Hacktivists are continuing their mission to take on politicians causing the collapse of constitutional rights in America, with operatives from the online collective Anonymous keeping up a campaign against the signers of controversial legislation.

As RT reported on Thursday, members of Anonymous began a campaign this week to expose information on the lawmakers who voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, a bill that will allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens, the reinstating of torture methods and the creation of the United States as a battlefield. Despite the implications of the act, the Senate allowed for the bill to leave Capitol Hill on Thursday, leaving only the inking of President Barack Obama’s name as the final step for ratification.

President Obama had earlier insisted on vetoing the bill, but the White House retracted that statement in the days before it cleared Congress. Before the final draft left the Senate yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin asked that a statement from the administration be added to the record in which the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said that the president will not be advised to strike down the bill.

On Thursday, Anonymous hacktivists launched a campaign against Senator Robert Portman, a Republican from Ohio. Not only did Portland vote in favor of NDAA FY2012, he received $272,853 from special interest groups that also backed the bill.

“Robert J. Portman, we plan to make an example of you,” an Anonymous operative posted to the Internet on Thursday. Along with the warning was personal information pertaining to the senator, including his home address and phone number.

Continue reading at:   http://www.eurasiareview.com/17122011-anonymous-declares-cyber-war-on-us-congress-over-indefinite-detention-act/

Shift Your Shopping to Create More Jobs, Stronger Communities

From Common Dreams:    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/16-2

by Jeff Milchen and Michael Shuman
Published on Friday, December 16, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of about $700 per person on holiday season shopping this year and, despite the hype surrounding Black Friday, the busiest shopping week immediately precedes Christmas. But rather than enduring long lines and sparse service at chain stores, we urge you take a different approach: seek out your local independent merchants and service providers, meet your neighbors and fully integrate your values in your purchasing decisions.

This is not a call to “get out and shop” — far from it. In fact, we encourage you consider many great gifts that don’t increase consumption: a meal at an independent restaurant, tickets to a local concert, durable locally-made goods. Most of all, consider the many benefits of patronizing local independent businesses for whatever you choose. Among the benefits:

* You’ll create local jobs. And not just any jobs. While chain outlet’s create mostly positions for clerks and cashiers, local businesses are hiring accountants, graphic designers, webmasters and many other positions the chains (or online giants) centralize at corporate headquarters. A multitude of small entrepreneurs provides a more vital and durable financial base than dependence on a few large corporations.

* Local businesses typically require less driving, consume far less land and have a lighter environmental impact. Because they focus primarily on local markets, local businesses place a high premium on being easily accessible by local residents. They tend to bolster community character and vitality, rather than segregating residential areas from clusters of big box development.

* Part of what makes any community great is how well it preserves its unique culture, foods, ecology, architecture, history, music, and art. Local businesses celebrate these features, while chains tend to homogenize, following a corporate template rather than respecting local architecture or customs.

Continue reading at:     http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/16-2

First Transgender Prom Queen: You Are Never Alone!

Posted in Activism, Bullying, Kids. Comments Off

Under Industry Pressure, USDA Works to Speed Approval of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Crops

From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/under-industry-pressure-usda-works-speed-approval-monsantos-genetically-engineered-crops/1323453319

by: Mike Ludwig
Monday 12 December 2011

For years, biotech agriculture opponents have accused regulators of working too closely with big biotech firms when deregulating genetically engineered (GE) crops. Now, their worst fears could be coming true: under a new two-year pilot program at the USDA, regulators are training the world’s biggest biotech firms, including Monsanto, BASF and Syngenta, to conduct environmental reviews of their own transgenic seed products as part of the government’s deregulation process.

This would eliminate a critical level of oversight for the production of GE crops. Regulators are also testing new cost-sharing agreements that allow biotech firms to help pay private contractors to prepare mandatory environmental statements on GE plants the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering deregulating.

The USDA launched the pilot project in April and, in November, the USDA announced vague plans to “streamline” the deregulation petition process for GE organisms. A USDA spokesperson said the streamlining effort is not part of the pilot project, but both efforts appear to address a backlog of pending GE crop deregulation petitions that has angered big biotech firms seeking to rollout new products.

Documents obtained by Truthout under a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that biotech companies, lawmakers and industry groups have put mounting pressure on the USDA in recent years to speed up the petition process, limit environmental impact assessments and approve more GE crops. One group went as far as sending USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack a timeline of GE soybean development that reads like a deregulation wish list. [Click here and here to download and read some of the documents released to Truthout.]

Continue reading at:    http://www.truth-out.org/under-industry-pressure-usda-works-speed-approval-monsantos-genetically-engineered-crops/1323453319

Mass Arrests in DC: We Shall No Longer Be Crucified Upon the Cross of Coal

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/27-7

by Jeff Biggers

Over one hundred protesters from the Appalachian coalfields were arrested in front of the White House today, defiantly calling on the Obama administration to abolish mountaintop removal mining. As part of the Appalachia Rising events, the coalfield residents took part in a multi-day series of events to bring the escalating human rights, environmental and health care crisis to the nation’s capitol.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth leaders Teri Blanton and Mickey McCoy, the first arrested in today’s nonviolent act of civil disobedience, were joined by allies from around the country, including NASA climatologist James Hansen. Meanwhile, protesters led by the legendary Rev. Billy Talen staged a nearby sit-in at the office of the PNC bank, which remains one of the last major financiers of coal companies engaged in this extreme form of strip-mining in Appalachia.

In a stark reminder of the national connection to the coalfields, the Obama administration officials looked on from their White House offices, as their electricity came from a coal-fired plant generated partly with coal stripmined from Appalachia.

As a litmus test of the administration’s commitment to science and the rule of law, Appalachian residents are calling on the EPA to halt any new permit on the upcoming decision over the massive Spruce mountaintop removal mine.

Mountaintop removal coal only provides, in fact, less than 10 percent of all coal production.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/27-7

Posted in Activism, Ecology, Questioning Authority. Comments Off

A Matter of Semantics: The Difference Between “Identifying as” and “Identifying with”

This post grew out of something I read in Sherry Wolf’s book, Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation .

This book had been on my must read list for a while. I was familiar with Ms. Wolf’s writing from her columns at Socialistworker.org.

Yesterday, on Face Book, Ethan St Pierre asked if people identified as male, female or transgender.

I’m an old fashioned lefty.  I’m not something because I identify as that thing.  Claiming to identify as without being seems to me to be an odd construct that doesn’t fall much in line with my existentialist line of thinking.

I am not a woman because I identify as a woman. I am a woman even though I was assigned male at birth because of having been born with something that the best term for still seems to be “transsexualism”.  I had sex reassignment surgery that made me female.

Now there are all sorts of debates about why one is transsexual.  Is it nature, is it nurture or is it both. What ever it is the origin doesn’t matter all that much to me. The only thing I can say for sure is: Don’t tell me that I have to embrace transsexual as a permanent identity.  Perhaps as a transitory one…

What I find most problematic of the dictum implied in the semiotic “identify as” is that it is both exclusive and exclusionary in that it carries with it an implication, a subtext if you will, that implies that if you too do not “identify as” then you must be in opposition.  Further if the “I” who is policing the borders of this “identification as” decides you bear the one particular trait for inclusion in that “identity” then that one trait over rules all other aspects of ones being.  This is an extension of some very reactionary politics based on the rather anachronistic application of “the one drop of black blood makes you black (or Jewish etc) rule”.

Usage of this semiotic carries several other subtexts, including:  If you share that one trait but do not embrace that identity (in this case transgender) then you must be self -loathing.  You are in denial and an antagonistic separatist, particularly if you defend not embracing that “identify as” semiotic.  Refusal to identify as is therefore grounds for assumption of hostility towards the group one refuses to identify as.

The seeds for identity politics possibly date to the 1960s and the rise of “black nationalism” instead of a united front in support of the African American Civil Rights Movement.

There  was a rush to place primacy of oppressions in what seemed like a queue.  This lead to the term, “Oppression Olympics”.  And the dismissal of claims of empathy.

The alternative that would help unite the various groups fighting what is generally speaking a common source of oppression would be to switch from a requirement to “identify as” to people learning to “identify with” the struggles of others, and through the exercise of empathy find commonalities with others.

I do not have to “identify as” to identify with the struggles of say African Americans, or farm workers, in their struggle for civil rights. As I can extrapolate through my own experiences what it feels like to suffer abuse, discrimination and oppression.

Lately there has been this requirement for people with transsexualism firmly claim “having always identified as a member of the sex to which they are reassigned”.  Perhaps in the best of all possible worlds, where one’s “identity” is never challenged.  That would seem in total contradiction with the reports of almost universal childhood abuse for “gender inappropriate behavior”.

Those who give priority to identity over the physical sneeringly call my response  citing my present body as reason for being assured of my identity, essentialist.  Perhaps it is as I considered SRS as “making it real” in flesh as well as in performed sex role behavior.

Damn here I am in bed with Judy Butler… I promise not to hate myself in the morning…

Identity has an amorphous character that is constantly open to challenge and negotiation.  But so too are bodies.  We should know that all to well.  T to F people have memories about being labeled as sissies and being told they aren’t really boys.  Hence my response to Anna about thinking I was half boy/half girl as a child, given I had boy parts yet was physically feminine in appearance and was feminine in behavior. Identity open to challenge due to physical traits that were written on the body.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “One is not born a woman, one becomes a woman.”  The existentialist analysis is about becoming through influences and actions.  Beat poet Diane di Prima’s first sentence in her book, “Recollections of my Life as a Woman” reads:  “My earliest sense of what it means to be a woman was learned from my grandmother, Antoinette Mallozzi, and at her knee.”

Then there is a paragraph that starts on page 5:

“As I went into the kitchen this morning to make some tea, I saw through the (intentionally?) open crack in her door, my beautiful young daughter in the arms of a beautiful young Black skateboarder, who had evidently spent the night (skateboard propped against the wall in front of her door like an insignia).  As I went tranquilly into the kitchen and called out to ask them if they wanted tea or coffee, I thought with deep gratitude of some of the women I met when I first left home at the age of eighteen: those beautiful, soft strong women of middle age with their young daughters who made me welcome in various homes, where I could observe on a given morning mom coming out of her bedroom with a lover, male or female, and joining daughter and her lover at the table for breakfast in naturalness and camaraderie.  These women, by now mostly dead I suppose were great pioneers.  They are nameless to me, nameless and brief friends I encountered along the way who showed me something else was possible besides what I had seen at home.”

I view who I am not as some sort of “identity” claimed without experience but as the sum total of my experiences and encounters.

The experiences and my awareness of self were uncertain and abused as a child. As I gained agency as a teenager, I sought out answers and those answers changed my sense of being.  Through choosing to learn certain things and not other things, to learn certain ways of being, skills, I became those things and those skills became my natural skills learned in muscle memory and unconscious  in nature.

Coming out was a matter of stating “I AM!” and then acting upon it.  My first steps were uncertain, like some one first learning to ice skate, yet the things I had been absorbing in secret rapidly asserted themselves.  People reacted differently to me and the different way I was treated became part of who I am.  Within weeks the ability to don the mask I had worn for 21 years became impossible.  Is this identity?

If it is… Does the fact I didn’t particularly think of the concepts of  “I am” or “I am becoming” in terms of identity, but rather in terms of “being” and “becoming”, both aspects of the philosophy of existentialism, invalidate those who speak in terms of identity?  Do the semantics of “identity” replete with semiotic meanings require a subjugation of existentialist thinking to a new god of post-modernist terminology?

Are these idiotic matters to be argued over while hiding in an attic we might not be in were it not for our immersion in “identity politics”?

I am my life experiences, my interpretations of those experiences, my analysis of those experiences are subject to change as I am immersed in new experiences.

If I say I am post-transsexual it doesn’t mean I am beyond all concern regarding the subject or all concern for those going through transition.  It means that for me those experiences were all so long ago and when dredged up are subject to new interpretations based on the many years of experience since.  The requirement that I “identify as” is alienating as it negates the passage of time and the experiences of life after SRS.

However, I am as capable of “identifying with” the struggles of TG and pre-op sisters and brothers as I am with any other oppressed group that I am not specifically a part of.  Identifying with the struggles of the oppressed does not require one to “identify as.”

To answer Ethan St. Pierre’s question.  I don’t identify as a woman.  I am a woman.

Police State

I grew up left wing.  I may not have been a red diaper baby but my diapers definitely had a union label.

We were Democrats in part of New York State that had been down with the GOP since they sent volunteers to fight for the Union.

My parents were FDR New Deal Democrats who thought it stupid to vote against the interests of the working people.

I was raised to be careful about telling others things my parents talked about because it was the McCarty era and my father was first generation Polish American at a time when they were stripping people of their citizenship and deporting them for being Reds.

There was a fictional short story by Phillip Nolan called “A Man Without a Country”, about a man stripped of his citizenship and condemned to a life aboard ships.  I don’t remember the specifics of the short story, but John Adams instituted the Alien and Sedition Acts  that could have done something like that.  The moral of the story was supposed to be about how sad the man was to never be permitted back in America. I saw the moral as being, “Freedom of speech, means freedom to agree.”

I came away with a different take on it, perhaps because of my family.  My take on it was that there was a serious gap between what the Constitution says and how the Police State functions.  Freedom of speech should mean just that, after all the Constitution doesn’t have the disclaimer, “So long as one never speaks a disparaging word regarding corporate fascism, police abuse of power, racism, imperialism or the military industrial complex.”

In school I was taught that in the Soviet Union and life under Communism, the citizens had their lives spied upon and could lose their jobs and even be imprisoned for speaking their mind.  Which was way different from the US,  where people were being arrested, spied upon, interrogated, force to name names or face imprisonment as well as be denied employment all under the aegis of “protecting freedom.”

As a kid I couldn’t tell the difference.  But I knew that one of the things that could get one labeled Red was supporting equality for Black people.  At the same time people who murdered and horribly mutilated a Black child named Emmett Till were not prosecuted the way people who said that was wrong were persecuted.

There were things my family spoke about in whispers and that I was told to never speak about like their discussing loyalty oaths.

I was a radical in the 1960s.  I was arrested for my opposition to the war and for standing up for things I knew to be right.

We were subjected to having warrantless raids performed on our places of residence as well as stop and search violations of our rights in the streets.  Even though these warrantless searches were a clear violation of our Constitutional rights.

They called it “The War on Drugs”, they used it as part of a war on anyone the police were bigoted towards.

In the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up

It was after all the war on drugs and the only people speaking out were either drug users or left wing scum like the ACLU.  Generally the position was, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

Then a few years later as the government became much more rabidly right wing and the Constitutional rights of Americans were eroded further in various ways including “the War on Crime” and “The War on Drugs” private companies began to demand employees submit to drug testing.  It didn’t matter if you showed up for work stone sober, they wanted to know what you did on the weekends.  And thanks to things like Employment At Will and the Taft Hartley Act workers had lost the ability to protest against these violations of personal privacy.

After all, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”  Like the dark days of the 1950s when a version of that same mantra was the subtext behind the assumption of guilt when people refused to name names for Joe McCarthy and HUAC, refusal to submit to a violation of one’s Constitutional rights to freedom from warrantless search was taken as an admission of guilt.

And so it goes, one baby step at a time we surrendered our Forth Amendment rights.

Did you speak out regarding this violation of people’s rights?  If you did you were in a minority.  There are gulags across America filled with people whose only crime is the violation of the drug prohibition laws.

Some where along with all the get tough on crime propaganda there was a new mantra introduced, “What part of illegal do you just not get?”  All the while there were obviously two sets of laws one for the rich and one for the poor.

Yet who, other than those pesky Reds spoke up?  And yes it is a truism that if one speaks out against the right wing police state then one is automatically a “Red”.  Even if they have never read a word of Marx/Engels/Lenin.  Even if they are no further left than Obama.

Then came the “War on Terror” with the TSA and NSA, Echelon, and Total Information Awareness.  To speak out against this infringement was to once again be a Red and soft on terror.  We learned new words and phrases like “rendition” and “water-boarding”.

But we weren’t being thrown in concentration and torture camps. So we sat back and repeated the mantra we had long ago taken to heart. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

In the process we learned to internalize the police state, to watch what we said and wrote, to point fingers and condemn as “Reds” and “Agitators” those who spoke out and questioned what the fuck was going on.

Remember Cindy Sheehan and the Crawford Ranch Demonstration?  Cindy, who son was killed in Iraq, had the audacity to ask  W., “What noble cause?” Perhaps more of us should have asked, “What noble cause?” Because our civil rights were going down the tube and had been for many years.

One of the major problems of identity politics is the compartmentalization and focus on an issue that is supposed to unite in spite of the people who supposedly share that identity having all sorts of different politics.

I have met too many sisters who were classist, racist, anti-feminist and right wing to believe that just having an association at some point and time with a trans-prefixed word makes them my sister.

I have been called a “Red” too many times by people I am supposed to have common ground with according to the ideology of Transgender Inc.

But now the Police state has become real for them too.

We Do NOT Have All the Same Body Parts and Body Scanners Violates Your Privacy

http://blog.seattlepi.com/airlinereporter/archives/218649.asp

It is time to improve privacy!

I haven’t been able to talk about body scanners for a while and it is about time I bring them up again. When I blog about them or am doing research, I constantly see the same argument, “What’s the big deal, we all have the same parts, get over it.”

The thing is we are not all the same and even if we are, we still have a right to privacy. With my obvious dis-like (maybe that is too nice of a word) for the body scanners, I get people who write me in support and calling me  fool. Recently I had a woman write me who is  a pre-operative transsexual, meaning she self-defines as a woman, but still has male genitalia. It is absolutely her right to keep her situation private and no one should have the ability to invade her privacy. Talking about privacy, I will call her “Jane” to keep her anonymous for this blog.

I asked Jane what it is like being asked to go through a body scanner and she told me, “that having to go through a body scanner would be particularly difficult for me as the body scanners actually reveal a person’s gender. ” She also explained it becomes even more difficult because she has, “anxiety which makes the thought of using these even more difficult.”

Jane lives in the UK and unlike in the US, passengers cannot opt-out of body scanners. If you get “randomly selected” , you must be scanned or you don’t fly.

Another argument people often use is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly then.” There are so many reasons why this argument is weak. If you don’t agree with something, you should stand up for what you think is right and try to change the system.

Jane told me she doesn’t fly as much now due to the fear and has missed out on some very important life experiences. “I have relatives in India who I would like to see again and would also like to travel to India to pay my respects to relatives who have died but feel unable to pass through an airport whilst passing through a body scanner is a condition to boarding my flight,” Jane explained.

We are a global society and need to allow people to fly around the world to continue to grow and prosper. We should not become  society that violates a person’s privacy, so passengers can get a false sense of security that the body scanners provide.

Trans-gender fliers, disabled passengers, folks with body issues and those that have gone through a traumatic experience involving their body should not have to endure evasive security to be able to function in our society. Is giving up your privacy worth the false sense of security you get going through body scanners? I say absolutely not.

And then they came for_______ and suddenly the mantra, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” becomes very personal to some who were all too willing to accept the privileges they enjoyed in the past when the people whose rights were being violated were Reds and drug users.

The time to stand up against the Police State is when they start scapegoating and imprisoning the under-privileged, those Justice Marshall referred to as the “despised and dispossessed”.  Not when they finally come for you because by then the only people left will be those still saying, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

Political Prisoners Arrested at G20 Demonstrations Segregated by Sexual Orientation

G20 security state madness

From Xtra

http://www.xtra.ca/blog/national/post/2010/06/28/G20-madness.aspx

I don’t even know where to begin on the events of this past weekend.

How about here? An account by this dude of appalling treatment by police. It’s a tale of unwarranted search and detention, segregation by sexual orientation and suspension of fundamental rights as Canadians. Welcome to Toronto, Dan. This piece brought to you by the good people at rabble.ca

I was at College and University, the southern boundary of Queen’s Park, at about 5pm on Saturday as police began to clear the so-called free-speech zone. It was appalling. I watched as a few were arrested and saw mounted police carve a group of people out of the crowd in the park and arrest them all.

ENDA Should Not Be The Goal!

ENDA should not be the goal but rather the starting point for LGBT/T workers rights.

All too often when I read about ENDA the stories are about people who are already so far up the socio-economic chain as to make their struggles with employment sound like fables.

Focusing on the Susan Stantons of the world makes for good news.  I’m sure she is a decent person and all that and I am equally certain that her losing her job was a vile act of discrimination.

But is the struggle for employment non-discrimination really all about those in the middle and upper classes?

What about those of us who work in restaurants and big box stores?  Or those even more lumpen who have to do sex work because even restaurants and big boxes won’t hire them?

Lets focus for a moment on those workers in what has been labeled by the privileged elite as the “New Service Economy”. There is a reality that was laid out in Barbara Ehrenreich’s  book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America that life sucks for those workers making less than 15 to 20 thousand dollars a year.  One is often unable to keep a roof over one’s head, eat, afford transportation to and from work and the clothes required to work.

Never mind the thought of getting SRS or any of the other procedures commonly required by those in transition including but not exclusive to: Mandated professional psychiatric care.  Electrolysis and hormones.

The great bulk of the medically uninsured are in this category.  But even for those insured medical costs related to transsexualism and transgenderism are often specifically excluded.  Sometimes using the pre-existing condition clause if the policy lacks a specific exclusion.

There is another proposition slowly making its way through the process.  One I hear almost no mention of in the LGBT/T press or activist circles but hear plenty about in the left wing circles that are a major influence on me.

Something called the Employee Free Choice Act that would help end the corporate strangle hold of workers attempting to unionize and organize to promote the rights and interests of the workers.  Too often we have no redress, no one to represent us and argue that our working conditions are un-fair or even dangerous.  Not to mention humiliating, stressful and degrading.

Working conditions suck in the US.  American workers work longer hours with less job security or benefits that do the workers in almost every other industrialized nation.

Oh I forgot we live in a post-industrialized society where the rich become ever richer by moving their money around, creating nothing except an endless cycle of bubbles and recessions, while the rest of us have become the new servant class.  As a member of that servant class I am required to smile and lie to sell others cheap poorly made product, food that is often a nutritional nightmare.  All the while knowing the reality of what I am doing and smiling as well as shuffling in a properly subservient manner.

There is a dirty secret that misses the news for all its coverage of the Tea Bagger, neo-Nazi racist pigs.  There is an equally angry left wing under class of overly educated peons who have read Marx, Kropotkin and Bukharin.

ENDA isn’t the end of the struggle for LGBT/T workers rights.  It is the starting point

“The Only Way to Survive is By Taking Care of One Another” — Legendary Activist, Philosopher Grace Lee Boggs

From Alternet:

http://www.alternet.org/vision/146290/%22the_only_way_to_survive_is_by_taking_care_of_one_another%22_–_legendary_activist%2C_philosopher_grace_lee_boggs

By Amy Goodman and Grace Lee Boggs, Democracy Now!
Posted on April 3, 2010, Printed on April 3, 2010

http://www.alternet.org/story/146290/

Amy Goodman: The legendary Detroit activist and community organizer Grace Lee Boggs has been involved with the civil rights, Black Power, labor, environmental justice, and feminist movements over the past seven decades. She was born to Chinese immigrant parents in 1915. In 1992, she co-founded the Detroit Summer youth program to rebuild and renew her city. Her 95th birthday is June 27th, the day after the close of the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. [The following is a short clip of Boggs talking].

Grace Lee Boggs: We’ve got to redefine democracy, that we have been stuck in concepts of representative democracy, that we believe that it’s getting other people to do things for us that we progress. And I think that we’ve reached the point now where we’re stuck with a whole lot of concepts, so that when Michael Moore speaks about the number of people who make all this money and other people who don’t, it sounds as if we’re struggling for equality with them. Who wants to be equal to these guys? I think we have to be thinking much more profoundly.

Actually, if you go back to what Marx said in The Communist Manifesto over a hundred years ago, when in talking about the constant revolutions in technology, he ended that paragraph by saying, “All that is sacred is profaned, all that is solid melts into air, and men and women are forced to face with sober senses our conditions of life and our relations with our kind.” We’re at that sort of turning point in human history.

And I think that, talking about recovery, talking about democracy, we too easily get sucked into old notions of what we want. So we’re expecting protest. I’m not expecting so many protests. I don’t mind protests, and I encourage them at times. But what happened in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, when people gathered to say another world is necessary, another world is possible, and another world is happening, I think that that’s what’s happening.

In Detroit, in particular, people are beginning to say the only way to survive is by taking care of one another, by recreating our relationships to one another, that we have created a society, over the last period, in particular, where each of us is pursuing self-interest. We have devolved as human beings.

Learn more at the Boggs Center site.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.

© 2010 Democracy Now! All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/146290/

Fighting for a hate-free union

By Christine Darosa

From Socialist Workerhttp://socialistworker.org/2010/03/30/fighting-for-a-hate-free-union

Christine Darosa reports on the fight of a transgender union activist in Service Employees International Union Local 1021 to remove a union supervisor from his position because of his reported prejudice.

March 30, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO–On the heels of the reform slate “Change 1021″ victory in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021′s first elections [2] comes another victory: a supervisor in the union’s San Francisco office has been fired for what activists say is his prejudice.

Andre Spearman, one of the staff supervisors in the Union’s San Francisco office, had reportedly created a hostile work environment through a heavy-handed, top-down approach to working with both staff and rank-and-file membership, combined with blatant disrespect of the membership and staff.

Gabriel Haaland, Local 1021′s political coordinator for San Francisco, and a target of what he calls Spearman’s harassment, described Spearman as having “a very anti-membership-participation perspective” in a progressive local where the membership has historically been very engaged. In fact, Haaland feels that Spearman’s presence and conduct were part of a systematic effort to tamp down rank-and-file activity and involvement in advance of the election.

Over time, Haaland says that an obvious pattern of dismissiveness and derision emerged, though it was difficult to challenge due to Spearman’s abusive management style. As workers in the office began to share their experiences, it became clear that Haaland in particular seemed to receive an extra share of abuse due to his identity as a transgender man.

For example, when Haaland was not in the room, Spearman would refer to Gabriel as “he” in a sneering, belittling way–treatment Spearman also reserved for a transgender woman in the rank and file who crossed his path.

In November, Haaland filed a grievance on behalf of the unionized staff with SEIU management. When the grievance was ignored, he filed a complaint with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

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WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION is still all-too-common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. A 2006 San Francisco study by the Transgender Law Center (TLC) and Bay Guardian newspaper found that 57 percent of transgender people surveyed had experienced employment discrimination in some form, despite the city having had transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws since 1994. Further, only 12 percent of those surveyed had filed a formal complaint.

Haaland, a longtime local progressive figure, has been involved in drafting protections and raising visibility around the harassment of transgender workers, and was part of the group of people who worked to get the TLC/Bay Guardian study underway.

Still, it took Haaland some time to make the decision to file the complaint against Spearman. This was due in part, he explained, to not wanting to give ammunition to union-bashers and his belief that, surely, the union could do better–but also in part to the personal difficulty of taking this step.

If deciding to file a complaint was so challenging for Haaland, it is clear how much harder it would be for people in more precarious situations or those who are isolated in their communities. With the threat of repercussions–such as job loss in a population where unemployment is as high as 75 percent–it is easy to understand why so few people might come forward.

Haaland said that when he found out that the Change 1021 slate had won 26 out of the 28 contested union positions, he knew immediately that the new leadership would be responsive to the issues raised in the grievance. He “knew and respected” the people who won, having worked alongside them in the union for years, he explained.

As Larry Bradshaw, the new third vice president of Local 1021, commented recently:

[M]ost of us that were elected to office on the reform slate knew that there were many internal problems with staff and staff management, but we had no idea that there was this sort of harassment occurring. The first we heard about it was when we read about it in the local press a couple days before we took office, and our new rank-and-file chief elected officer moved within a couple days to remove Mr. Spearman from his position in the union.

Haaland feels that Local 1021 is now returning to the “long tradition of progressive, democratic unionism” that he had signed on to when he took his job with SEIU. He also feels that Change 1021′s win is connected to the actions happening elsewhere at the grassroots–from labor to the LGBT movement to the March 4 Day of Action against the budget cuts in California.

“Things are different now in a number of different contexts. Old ways of doing things are shutting down,” he said. “It excites me…We’re winning a lot–in transformative ways, not in traditional ways.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [3] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

  1. [1] http://socialistworker.org/department/Labor
  2. [2] http://socialistworker.org/2010/03/09/sweeping-victory-for-seiu-reformers
  3. [3] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

Activism Inc

Serendipitous convergence might be the best way to describe stumbling on to two seemingly unrelated sources both talking about something that has been bothering me for some time.

I’ve been thinking about something for the last few years.  I describe myself as an anarchist because so much of my activism and so many of my political positions are outside of a structured activist organization.  My activism is also spread widely across many issues which makes it hard for me to feel at home in identity based politics.

Back in the 1980s I was a disgruntled professional nerd working in Silicon Gulch and I answered an ad in one of the Bay Area Newspapers looking for people who were passionate about environmentalism and progressive politics. It offered an opportunity to work as paid activists on a campaign headed by Tom Hayden,  a California State Representatives and former SDS leader.

Much to my disappointment I discovered that ads for activists that one finds in papers and on sites like Craig’s List are not looking for people to organize or do the other things I associate with activism.  Instead they are ads for people who beg for money either on the phones or going door to door, all in the name of a good cause or causes but demeaning and disillusioning nonetheless.

This was not something I particularly considered activism.

Shit happens or serendipitous convergence. Just as I am thinking about this several things come up that help me illustrate and further define my discomfort with this new form of “activism”.

Documentaries about the slaughter of whales and the decimation of the seas with drift nets that stretch for miles and are the equivalent of clear cutting forests in their environmental destruction caused me to get a couple of books about Earth First and David Foreman.  David Foreman and the people of Earth First attacked Greenpeace as corporate accommodationists more interested in professional activism, fund raising and lobbying than direct action.  As an alternative to Greenpeace Foreman suggested supporting Sea Shepard, which actually spends much of its energy going out and attacking whalers and the fishing fleets that are strip mining the oceans in an effort to leave no fish behind.

In the 1960s I was part of SDS, an extremely nebulous organization at best, particularly so after about 1966.  If you said you were a member then you were a member.  Earth First had the same organizational pattern.

I was around for the early days of Gay Liberation, Lesbian Liberation, Second Wave Feminism and yes one of the first real grassroots Transsexual Liberation and Support groups.

By 1975 so much of that was withering away, being replaced by “professionals” with degrees and careers, organizations that had big plans with bright shiny offices with prestigious addresses.  Organizations with large budgets.  Enter the new role for those at the grassroots, professional beggar.  But major organizations with prestigious headquarters do not survive on nickel and dime donations, they require the support of major donors.

At one point AIDS Project LA had a fund raising dinner for major donors and honoring Elizabeth Taylor that was reputed to have cost somewhere in the realm of a half million dollars.  It cost more than it raised and needless to say none of the out reach workers who passed out condoms to LGBT/T sex workers doing survival sex on the corners of Santa Monica Blvd were invited.

I’m not going to go into my thoughts regarding “transactivism” except to say it too seems to have strayed from its roots in various bad neighborhoods to a point that much of what we hear about seems out of touch with lumpen prole trannies.  The ones doing sex work to survive, or working in  underpaid often part-time menial jobs that have come to be the mainstay for many working class people. Transactivism with its calls to go to Washington to lobby your Representatives, come to conferences to discuss and calls to Camp Out outside the MWMF seems to assume a level of affluence beyond that of many trannies, especially those who are part of the trans under classes.

Over the last few days I have been watching the struggle going on over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is crystal clear that HRC has become an irrelevant organization that is pretty useless when it comes to doing much of anything other than insuring that Joe Solmonese, is the most fashionably well dressed “activist” among the lobbyist set.

Are we really sending our hard earned dollars to HRC to buy Joe Solmonese expensive designer clothes and attend expensive events?  It all seems so corporate. Speaking of which.  as much as I love Kathy Griffith as a comedian, what the fuck does she have to do with LGBT/T activism other than perhaps entertain us?

From Newsweek:  http://www.newsweek.com/id/235290

Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and fluent Arabist being discharged from the Army for being openly gay, was arrested last week along with former Army captain Jim Pietrangelo II, after handcuffing themselves to the White House gate in protest of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They were handcuffed with the help of Robin McGehee, a former PTA president turned activist who last week cofounded GetEQUAL, an LGBT activism group inspired by civil-rights organizations and gains made through civil disobedience.

Lt. Choi basically reamed out Solmonese and HRC for their “executive” demonstration at Freedom Plaza and their failure to support him and others who actually took their protests to the the White House fence where they handcuffed themselves to the fence and allowed themselves to be arrested.  They languished in jail overnight. Lt. Choi said that HRC failed to give either legal support or bail.

HRC was already on the shit list of many transsexual and transgender people for its willingness to support a non-trans inclusive ENDA.  Perhaps we are too lumpen and not fashionable enough for Joe.

Back in the 1990s one of the exciting things about trans-activism was the Transsexual Menace and how it had a lot in common with Act Up and the Lesbian Avengers.  Membership and participation could be had for the cost of a t-shirt and the guts to wear it.  I sometimes think that what ruined trans-activism was when privileged white late emergers became the face of it and started with all the post-modern theoretical crap.

They were divorced from the reality of prostitution, criminalization, AIDS, addiction and all the murders that were part of the lives of those transsexual and transgender people found in the under classes.

On the other hand a local grass roots organization here in Dallas managed to get numerous demonstrators together to go to a DART meeting and protest the mistreatment of a transsexual DART worker who had some bureaucratic piece of shit in Human Resources decide that they didn’t have to accept that she had SRS as well as jumping through all the hoops to legally change her sex to female.  This person decided that she had been born male and should be forever considered male.

The slogan of the IWW, an anarchist labor union back in the early 20th century was “Direct action gets the goods”.

Perhaps instead of all this high level activism that seems to get very little in results from the efforts of the well paid professional activists lobbying in Washington we should at least divide the money and devote more of it to the development of local grass roots activism and less to supporting those who aspire to live the life of the corporate shills of K Street.

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