Marijuana Prohibition Turns 100 Today. What Is There to Celebrate?

From SF Weekly:

By Chris Roberts,
Fri., Apr. 29 2011

Alcohol prohibition did little to stop Americans from guzzling booze, though it helped make gangsters rich, cops and courts busy, and encouraged foreign imports of “medicinal whiskey” (sound familiar?)

That experiment was short-lived — ratified in 1920, the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was repealed in 1933 — and particularly short-lived in comparison to the country’s experiment with outlawing marijuana — which turns 100 years old today.

In stark contrast to fermented grapes and grain, the intoxicating qualities of the cannabis sativa plant were unknown to Americans outside of a few Southwest border towns in 1911, according to Dale Gieringer of California NORML. Gieringer spent the better part of 10 years trying to find evidence of marijuana use among 19th-century American writers (local boy Jack London experimented with hash, but he is an exception).

“There is no record of any public concern over marijuana at this time,” Gieringer told SF Weekly. “Only after cannabis was prohibited did it come into widespread popularity.” Pot got plenty of attention in 1911 — and thereafter when Massachusetts passed a law to ban “hypnotic drugs” such as opiates. “Marihuana” or “Indian hemp” was added to that list, despite its widespread anonymity as well as a clause in the Massachusetts ban that allowed drug stores to sell medicinal pot. That included the widely available tinctures used to alleviate migraines and menstrual cramps, according to Gieringer. Ironically, these anti-marijuana laws fostered a new mystique around the drug, which began seeping into the mainstream in the 1920s; it was popularized by jazz musicians and other hip folk.
Since then, the record has been established: An international compact in 1961 supported the banning of cannabis, which the federal government did outright with the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Pot use and arrests have increased steadily since; marijuana arrests in the United States have nearly tripled since 1990.

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Culhane: Transgender panel at Equality Forum

From 365 Gay:

By John Culhane, Professor of Law, Widener University

Tuesday’s National Transgender Panel at Equality Forum was predictably excellent. This is my third year blogging the event, and the first two panels were just as information-packed, thought-provoking, and moving. (Here are my accounts of the panels from 2010 (second part here) and 2009.)

Moderator Heath Fogg Davis, a Temple University Associate Professor of Political Science, presided over the proceedings lightly, giving each panelist just a few minutes to speak before offering a follow-up question and then turning most of the session over to questions and answers – and the 50-plus person audience indeed had questions and comments in abundance, drawing the panelists into some interesting and mostly open-ended discussions.

The panelists, in order, were:

Qui Alexander, a community health educator at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia; Gabriel Arkes, Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering at NYU Law School (and a staff attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project); and Lorenzo Triburgo, a photographer who lives in Portland.

Each speaker was given just a few minutes to offer a few remarks (hardly as formal, it turned out, as the “opening statements” description suggested they might be).

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Could you walk me to my car tonight, You see I have a feeling.

So many times when I hear the story of yet another transsexual or transgender woman assaulted or murdered I remember how naive I was when I first came out and I had feminist women friends advising me.  But they were independent and hippies and they were not always the best judge of the level of risk they put themselves in either.

When I was a teenager my mother warned me about the danger I would put myself in with men if I were not careful, yet the awareness of the amount of danger and risk is something we have to learn from experience as we were not , to use a much misused term “socialized” in such a manner as to have internalized the skills to assess the risk level we put ourselves in.

When I saw the following on Facebook by Zoe Nicholson I asked her permission to repost it here.

By Zoe Nicholson

Could you walk me to my car tonight,
You see I have a feeling.

I am a woman and I have a feeling.
I am a woman and I have funny feeling.
I am a woman and if I find the courage to ask you.
Will you walk me to my car tonight?

I am afraid to ask you because you might laugh.
I am afraid to ask you because you might ask me why.
I am afraid I cannot tell you why.
I cannot tell anyone why.

Will you walk me to the car tonight?
If you walk me to the car tonight,
Something bad will be averted.
It isn’t every night, just this night.

Will you think I am weak if I ask?
Will you tell me no if I ask?
Will I be sorry that I asked?

You see I am a woman and I have a feeling.
I have an inkling.
I have a sense of dread,
That will vaporize,
If you walk me to my car tonight.

Did you ask me to walk you to your car?
I think it is parked by mine.
I am happy to walk you to your car tonight.
I will share a light with you tonight.
Take my hand if you like.

I don’t need to ask why.
I don’t need to know why.
You are a woman and you have a feeling.
I am a woman and I have a feeling.
We have a feeling that we will be safe tonight.

(Poem written for and delivered at Take Back the Night at Cal State Fullerton )

Friday Night Fun and Culture Joan Baez

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What Does the Religious Right Stand For?

From Huffington Post:

By Wayne Besen

When I first started fighting for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality in 1989, the mission seemed quite clear. We were working to educate and change the minds of traditionalists who had virtually no experience with LGBT people or issues. These individuals had grown up with stereotypes and misconceptions that could be proven false by the coming out of friends, co-workers, neighbors, or family members.

Today, defining our opponents is not so easy, and sometimes vexing, because their values are so vacant and vacuous. Back in the day, a true conservative was defined by how one lived — not necessarily how one voted. But today’s soulless, corporate conservatism has nothing to do with the way one lives and everything to do with lazy political labels and one-size-fits-all prefab positions.

Conservatism has now become a country club that offers membership to those who support a handful of policy issues. To join, one has to repudiate (or refudiate) abortion, marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the idea that global warming is man made. One also has to irrationally hate Barack Obama and favor tax cuts for millionaires.

If you deviate from the “conservatively correct” prefab platform — you are out. However, if you pass the standard “issue test” you are in — no matter how libertine your actual lifestyle is. This creed of “it’s about what you say, not how you live” is becoming rather evident as the GOP presidential nomination process heats up.

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The APA and the transgender community ~ A diary of links ~

From Daily Kos:

By CA Treehugger
April 28, 2011

In 2010, at the insistence of the transgender community, the World Professional Association for Transgender Heath released the following statement regarding proposed changes to the American Psychiatric Association’s infamous bible of “mental disorders”, DSM-V.

The WPATH Board of Directors strongly urges the de-psychopathologisation of gender variance worldwide. The expression of gender characteristics, including identities, that are not stereotypically associated with one’s assigned sex at birth is a common and culturally-diverse human phenomenon which should not be judged as inherently pathological or negative. The psychopathologlisation of gender characteristics and identities reinforces or can prompt stigma, making prejudice and discrimination more likely, rendering transgender and transsexual people more vulnerable to social and legal marginalisation and exclusion, and increasing risks to mental and physical well-being. WPATH urges governmental and medical professional organizations to review their policies and practices to eliminate stigma toward gender-variant people.

WPATH did not have the courage to point to the shameful records of certain members of the relevant committees on DSM-V, but they are well aware of the outrage in the transgender community over selection of Drs. Kenneth Zucker and Raymond Blanchard as chairmen. These are men whom the TG community regards as reparatist reactionaries, who practice “therapies” that force trans children to accept their socially assigned gender roles. They also have a long history of pathologizing adult transgender people and subjecting both them and children to humilating and pseudoscientific procedures such as penile plethysmography — which has been banned as evidence in US courts but is still used on sex offenders.

This is the sort of “treatment” these quacks provide to the trans community, who are frequently “captives” of their clinics in order to get needed medical services, or are children involuntarily subjected to their brutality.

Their selection by the APA is an affront to the entire LGBT community, and reveals the low intellectual and ethical standards prevailing at the APA.

Here are a few starting points for more information.

Ray Blanchard

Michael Bailey

Blanchard-Bailey-Laurence Clearinghouse

J. Michael Bailey Investigation

Paul McHugh

The webpage Zucker attempted to suppress

Zucker’s role in the pathologization of gender variance (Scroll down to see article.)

The GID reform movement

Petition to remove crossdressing from the DSM

More Important things for Me Than Royal Weddings

Not that I gave a rat’s ass about them to start with.  Hell I never gave a damned about Diana or any of the others who are part of the Royal Spectacle.  I did find Prince Harry revealing the true color of royalty by wearing the Nazi uniform amusing along with his regularly appearing racist tendencies.  Refreshingly honest, I must say….

In one of my comments I mentioned the series of storms the east coast of the US is experiencing.  Hundreds of tornadoes, massive rainstorms, over three hundred people dead…

I grew up in the mountain country of upstate New York.  The town I was born in is in Essex County as is the last town I lived in prior to leaving home.  It has the distinction of being the poorest county in New York state.  There is a book about the county where I spent most of my childhood, except for five years (more on that community shortly).  The book is titled “The Sticks: A Profile of Essex County, New York“. It was published in 1972, some five years after I left Essex County.

When I first went to college I discovered I was a hillbilly.  I mean, we didn’t think of ourselves that way.  I listened to the same music as the kids from New York City and other more prosperous places.  I read the same books. But people from Essex County, who were blue collar working class, who worked in the mines and mills were the northern version of rednecks.

This is part of the reason why I bonded so quickly with the working class red diaper kids from the city.  Class ties…

In the television series “Generation Kill” one of the characters, Ray is of the same redneck/working class background.  People sort of make fun of him and tell him to shut-up.  My favorite line from the whole series is when he shoots back, “You’re just jealous because your mama never took you to NASCAR.”  My equivalent might be, “You’re just jealous because your mama never took you to see Joey Chitwood’s Auto Thrill Show”.

When the people who talk of identity and roots ask, “Where are you from?” I answer upstate New York.  They say, “No we mean your cultural heritage.”  My cultural heritage is mining and mill town working class.  It included BBQ picnics, fishing from flat bottom row boats, going to tractor pulls, barrel races and events where people do insane things with drag racers and strange dirt track race cars.

While watching the Weather Channel and the storm tracking I noticed there was a lot of seriously harsh weather occurring over the area where I grew up.

This morning I learned the area was wiped out by massive flooding.  Roads washed out, bridges wiped out.  People who are well below the poverty level have had their infrastructure destroyed in a state where they have instituted austerity measures rather than tax the shit out of the rich and Wall Street.

Now along with poverty Essex county is in the Adirondack Mountains.  It is filled with beautiful lakes and scenery, much of which is preserved in the form of State Parks and Forests.  This means much of the people’s income is from people who visit. It has become a year around tourist destination, with ski resorts, fishing, boating and historic sites.

The problem is the tourists do not pay the local taxes that maintain the infrastructure.  Without roads and bridges tourism dies.  Without money from tourists how will the people who live in poverty repair the school which was apparently damaged?

So as you can see I might be less than enchanted by the wedding of a pair of useless royals that cost some 100 million pounds.

Fuck spectacles.

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Florida House passes anti-abortion legislation

From The Los Angeles Times:,0,5071659.story

By Kathleen Haughney, Orlando SentinelApril 29, 2011

Reporting from Tallahassee—
After hours of emotionally fraught debate, the Florida House overwhelmingly approved a range of new abortionmeasures that would restrict health-insurance coverage of the procedure, ban most abortions after a fetus is “viable,” and require women seeking an abortion to first review an ultrasound in hopes that they would reverse their decision after seeing the images.The focus of the debate was the “ultrasound” bill, passed last year but vetoed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. Rep. James Grant revealed that his parents were told that he was going to be born severely disabled, and he said they decided to go through with the pregnancy because “they believed in life.” There was no reason, he said, for women not to understand the status of the fetus when they seek an abortion.

The measure requires that women who seek to end a pregnancy first receive an ultrasound, though they could decline in writing to view it. Women who are victims of sexual abuse or have a medical reason can opt out of the exam, but they must provide a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record or other court documentation.

The House also passed five other abortion bills Wednesday. Most are pending in the Senate; they are expected to pass, and then be signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

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UK cops arrest professor for planning ‘zombie wedding,’ mock execution during royal ceremony

From Raw Story:

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, April 29th, 2011

Over a dozen British police officers engaged in a “pre-crime” arrest of a university professor and a street theater group yesterday, in what activists called a “Minority Report”-style crackdown ahead of the royal wedding.

Professor Chris Knight, 68, a former anthropology lecturer at the University of East London, had planned to engage in a bit of street theater with a group of activists that were dressed in medieval garb. According to reports, the group had constructed a fake guillotine and planned to stage a mock execution of Prince Andrew Edward, the queen’s second oldest son.

A member of the group who was not arrested told The Guardian that the other two activists police roped in were Camilla Power and Patrick Macroidan.

The police apparently learned of the activists’ plans through surveillance methods, then staged the arrest outside Knight’s home in south east London last night, before the wedding got underway.

A police spokesman told The Guardian they were arrested on the charge of “suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance and breach of the peace.”

The group, Meltdown UK, had been planning a “Zombie Wedding” to mark the royals’ festivities.

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Policing Pregnancy

From The Nation:

Michelle Goldberg
April 21, 2011

Utah prosecutors and conservative politicians are determined to lock up the young woman known in court filings as J.M.S. for the crime of trying to end her pregnancy. Her grim journey through the legal system began in 2009, when she was 17 and pregnant by a convicted felon named Brandon Gale, who is currently facing charges of using her and another underage girl to make pornography. J.M.S. lived in a house without electricity or running water in a remote part of Utah. Even if she could have obtained the required parental consent and scraped together money for an abortion and a couple of nights in a hotel to comply with Utah’s twenty-four-hour waiting period, simply getting to the nearest clinic posed an enormous challenge. Salt Lake City is more than a three-hour drive from her town, twice that in bad weather, when snow makes the mountain passes treacherous. There is no public transportation, and she didn’t have a driver’s license.

And so, according to prosecutors, in May 2009, in her third trimester and desperate, J.M.S. paid a stranger $150 to beat her in the hope of inducing a miscarriage. The assault failed to end her pregnancy, but that didn’t stop police from charging her with criminal solicitation of murder. The juvenile court judge who heard her case, however, tossed it out on the grounds that her actions were legal under the state’s definition of abortion.

Local abortion opponents were outraged that J.M.S. had been freed. “It revealed an extreme weakness in the law, that a pregnant woman could do anything she wanted to do—it did not matter how grotesque or brutal—all the way up until the date of birth to kill her unborn child,” said Carl Wimmer, a state representative. He led a successful campaign to amend Utah’s abortion law so that as of last year, women who end their pregnancies outside the medical system can be prosecuted as killers. “We will be the only state in the nation that will do what we’re attempting to do here: hold a woman accountable for killing her unborn child,” Wimmer told the Salt Lake Tribune.

He’s wrong. In recent years, women in several states have faced arrest and imprisonment for the crime of ending their pregnancies, or merely attempting to do so. For decades now, feminists have warned about a post–Roe v. Wade world in which women are locked up for having abortions. Antiabortion activists dismiss such fears as propaganda. “The pro-life position has always been that women are victimized by abortion,” says the Priests for Life website, which has a page of sample letters to the editor meant to refute claims that abortion bans could lead to women being prosecuted. “In fact, we have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that women should be put in jail, much less executed.” But as abortion rights weaken and fetuses are endowed with a separate legal identity, women are being put in jail.

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Until Death Us Do Part: Wedded to Wealth We Don’t Have

From Common Dreams:

by Donna Smith
Published on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 by

Perhaps it’s the media fever over the Royal wedding in Great Britain or perhaps it’s my own disgust about hearing that Exxon Mobil makes $100M a day in profits, but either way I am pretty certain many Americans would rather go to their deaths believing in fairy tales than fighting reality.

Most of us will never celebrate weddings like that of William and Kate and most of us will never make $1,000 a day in profits much less a million or 10 million or $100M. I think we all get that somehow – even if we watch and wonder and even sometimes plan how we would spend our millions.

But I also know a significant number of people who really believe they are somehow closer to having those millions and being among the ultra-wealthy. And many who believe and even convince themselves to identify with the ultra-rich actually live paycheck-to-paycheck or worse. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon that is an extremely effective way for those who actually have the money and power to control those of us who do not. Sometimes the control is quite direct when owners and bosses hold power over our jobs, and other times the control is more subtle as corporations, advertisers and the news media create images and imaginings of what it means to be a success in America in 2011.

It is mind control and action control on steroids that makes millions and millions of Americans trust their lives to those who value them so little.

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