Thoughts on “The Cotton Ceiling”

One of my Facebook friends, who reads this blog asked me today if I was going to comment on the “Cotton Ceiling Controversy”.

I’ve been pondering this issue for several days now.

I’ve been having to gather some background material.

My first observation is that this is really only controversial among the self proclaimed  “radical feminists”. Cathy Brennan and others seem really upset about our even discussing this issue.

This is one  issue  I suspect has impacted the lives of the majority of people who have been described at one time or another by a trans-prefixed word.

It isn’t the easiest of issues to talk about… When I start writing I find myself choking up… filled with sadness and anger…

Anger at not being able to trust a movement I’ve spent my life supporting.

Anger that “radical feminists” expect to be able to use people like me as workers and foot soldiers, without ever considering us their sisters. Worse yet is when they enlist us as mercenaries to do their dirty work for them in attacking transsexual and transgender people.

I think it is possible to argue ideology without attacking people who are transgender.  Hell, we have wars among transsexuals that aren’t much prettier than the wars between transsexual and transgender people.

This is a shared issue no matter your present genitalia.

Even if we are not impacted personally, we would have to be totally without empathy, to not feel the impact when others like ourselves are trashed.

In the 1970s I was lucky enough to escape being personally held up for public trashing by the “radical feminist” faction. Two of my acquaintances were not so fortunate.

I was raped and barely escaped being murdered in the summer of 1974.  I sought help and support from the rape crisis center at the Gay Community Services Center in LA.  They we no more help or support for me than the police at the Hollywood LAPD station.  A guy who was my pot dealer and a male photographer I was friends with were more supportive, one giving me a can of mace that mail carriers carried to repel dogs and the other giving me a set of nunchakus.

A few years later my girlfriend, who had become increasingly abusive towards me, punched me in the face starting a mutual knock down drag out fight that wound up leaving both of us injured.  The center for abused women at the now Gay and Lesbian Center told me they couldn’t offer me counseling after learning I was transsexual.

I went to classes at the Women’s Building but avoided making serious friendships out of fear of being trashed.

When I developed a relationship with a sister (TG) in SF who was an artist and whom I taught photography.  I didn’t share my elation with this affair with the women I was working with at The Lesbian Tide. I was afraid they would use my being TS and her being TG as a way to negate our affair.

I hid being bisexual, never saying how my relationships with certain men were far less fear laden or complex than my relationships with women.

There was a time when the only lesbian organizations that were openly accepting of transsexual women were Samois and other sexual outlaw lesbian groups.

I’ve never felt at ease going to lesbian bars, even though as a sex worker I had hundreds of encounters with men who never questioned my femaleness.

I wouldn’t have ever dared to make an advance at a lesbian bar, hell sometimes I had a hard enough time acting available.

About 15 years ago I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center’s “The Village”.  I helped putting on events, setting them up taking them down.  I volunteered for it all.

Trans events, gay men’s events and lesbian events.  I was such a good volunteer that they gave me an outstanding volunteer of the year award.

Then one Sunday there was an event in a park in West Hollywood.  I was there to help with the event including the take down after the event.   When much of the work was done one of the women’s told me a bunch of them were going to a party at 4:00 and asked,   “Would you mind finishing up here and dropping the papers at the Center?”

The message was, “You are good enough to do the shit work but not quite human enough for us to socialize with.

People who have been reading my blog or other writings for any extended period have no doubt heard my take on the MWMF.  How I’d rather do dental work on myself with a Dremel tool than subject myself to going to that hate fest in the woods.

Forty years post-op/post-transsexual I’ve learned a few things along the way.

One of them is to not look for acceptance from people who hate transsexual and transgender people.

The other is that there is an alternative to the gay and lesbian world.  The alternative scenes, the art scene, the hippie scenes where we can find people, who will love us for who we are rather than abuse us for an abstraction of what we are.

My first real girlfriend was a Cuban-American sister named Stephanie.  I met her at a very sleazy Hollywood drag bar called The Speak.  She died of an overdose on Valentine’s Day 1974.

I didn’t have much of anyone to turn to about the sorrow I felt.  Sister’s who were our mutual friends didn’t understand what I felt for her.  Because I was TS and she was TG I didn’t bother seeking counseling from the lesbians at the Center.

Sometimes all the abstractions and labels get in the way.  Sometimes we have a hard time talking about something other than ideology, like attraction, love, lust are not something we are supposed to feel.

This isn’t a topic that is going to go away soon.

Not all lesbians are part of this hateful minority who call themselves “radical feminists.”  Most aren’t and yet the minority has manged to make the our participation in the lesbian community feel toxic for us no matter our surgery status.

The real shame of this situation is how many of us are in all sorts of loving relationships outside of this sphere of projected hatred.  With AFAB women, with men and often with each other.  Our significant others catch the fallout of this bigotry as well; because by challenging our right to have our bodies loved for what they are, loved without abstractions or ideology getting in the way they are also being challenged.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done before.

This topic is way too important for me to be the only one weighing in on it.

The e-mail for this Blog is:

I’m open to reposting the blog posts of others on this topic, putting up links or considering guest posts.

Radical feminist bigots need not apply on this issue.  If you are a radical feminist and feel excluded unjustly…  Well that’s what TS/TG people spend a lifetime feeling.

The Department Of Homeland Security Is Buying 450 Million New Bullets

From Business Insider:

Eloise Lee
Mar. 28, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

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Police face racism scandal after black man records abuse

From The Guardian UK:

Crown Prosecution Service reviews decision not to charge officers heard boasting of strangling 21-year-old black man, Friday 30 March 2012

Scotland Yard is facing a racism scandal after a black man used his mobile phone to record police officers subjecting him to a tirade of abuse in which he was told: “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger”.

The recording, obtained by the Guardian, was made by the 21-year-old after he was stopped in his car, arrested and placed in a police van the day after last summer’s riots.

The man, from Beckton, east London, said he was made to feel “like an animal” by police. He has also accused one officer of kneeling on his chest and strangling him.

In the recording, a police officer can be heard admitting he strangled the man because he was “a cunt”. Moments later, another officer – identified by investigators as PC Alex MacFarlane – subjects the man to a succession of racist insults and adds: “You’ll always have black skin. Don’t hide behind your colour.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis that three officers, including MacFarlane, may have committed criminal offences.

The CPS initially decided no charges should be brought against any of the police officers. However on Thursday, the service said it would review the file after lawyers for the man threatened to challenge the decision in a high court judicial review. MacFarlane has been suspended.

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Sen. Leahy: Supreme Court thinks corporations can be president

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said Thursday that corporations could be elected president according to the rationale of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“I remain troubled today that the Supreme Court extended to corporations the same First Amendment rights in the political process that are guaranteed by the Constitution to individual Americans,” he said at a hearing on the DISCLOSE Act of 2012. “Corporations are not the same as individual Americans. Corporations do not have the same rights, the same morals or the same interests. Corporations cannot vote in our democracy.”

According to the Supreme Court’s logic, we should elect corporations to public office, Leahy said.

“This country has elected General Eisenhower as president, shouldn’t we elected General Electric as president? We know we like to elect a lot of yahoos as vice president, why not elect Yahoo as a corporation as vice president. ”

“Vermonters and Americans across the country have long understood that corporations are not people in this political process,” he continued. “Unfortunately, a very narrow majority on the Supreme Court apparently did not.”

The controversial Citizens United ruling struck down key provisions of the federal McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and gave rise to super PACS, which have caused campaign spending by outside groups to skyrocket. Super PACs have also exploited a loophole that allows them to postpone the disclosure of their donors until after the elections they participate in.

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Author Alice Walker On How Killing is Symptom of Unaddressed Racism

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Hundreds Converge on ALEC Headquarters Demanding Justice for Trayvon Martin

From The Center For Media and Democracy:

by Sara Jerving
March 30, 2012

The killing of Trayvon Martin brought hundreds of people to the headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) Thursday to rally against the extremist legislation that the organization pushes, and the deadly real-life consequences it has. George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Martin in February, could be protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which was later ratified by ALEC as a model for other states and supported in over two dozen legislatures by numerous ALEC politicians.

A diverse coalition of advocacy organizations, watchdog groups, activists, and national leaders stood in front of ALEC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to protest the “Kill at Will” legislation, which was written by ALEC corporate member the National Rifle Association (NRA). The groups protesting at the event included the National Urban League, the NAACP, ColorOfChange, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, ProgressNow, the Center for Media and Democracy/, Common Cause, People For the American Way, ProgressNow, Presente, Public Campaign, UltraViolet, Faith in Public Life,Organization leaders locked out of ALEC’s headquarters. the National Council of Churches, USAction,, and others.

Leaders of the groups attempted to deliver a letter asking the ALEC chairmen of the public and private boards to “fully disclose ALEC’s financial relationship with all NRA entities, including any contributions, sponsorships, in-kind support or other support ALEC has received, and we ask your joint board to pledge to desist from supporting and promoting lethal ‘Shoot First’ legislation.” (ALEC’s board chairs are Indiana Rep. Dave Frizzell and the head of the lobbying firm CenterPoint 360, W. Preston Baldwin.) The leaders were locked out of ALEC’s headquarters.

Participants at the rally held signs that read: “I am Trayvon Martin,” “Don’t Shoot me — I’m a Mom,” “(A)LEC (L)obbying (E)xemplifies (C)orruption,” and others. The Nation Magazine’s John Nichols called the convergence in DC a “renewed civil rights coalition,” noting that beyond the “Kill at Will” legislation, which has provoked a vibrant national conversation on racial profiling, ALEC promotes other legislation that targets minorities, including restrictive “voter ID” laws.

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The spread of “Suspicious Activity Reporting”

From Salon:

Suspicious Activity Reporting asks citizens to keep an eye out on their neighbors — and it’s spreading

By Uzma Kolsy
Friday, Mar 30, 2012

Crime in Los Angeles is a gritty enterprise, and donning an LAPD badge has historically involved getting your hands dirty. Long before the New York Police Department was spying on Muslim students, the LAPD was running a large-scale domestic spy operation in the 1970s and ’80s, snooping on and infiltrating more than 200 political, labor and civic organizations including the office of then Mayor Tom Bradley. Today, the LAPD isn’t quite so aggressive, but it still employs a directive titled Special Order 1, which permits police officers to deem what is “suspicious” and then act on it.

SO 1 enables LAPD officers to file Suspicious Activity Reports on observed behaviors or activities. Where things get murky, however, is how SAR guidelines categorize constitutionally protected, non-criminal and commonplace activities such as using binoculars, snapping photographs and taking notes as indicators of terrorism-related activity. The SARs are coupled with the LAPD’s iWatch program, a campaign the police pioneered to encourage regular citizens to report “suspicious” activity, including “a person wearing clothes that are too big or too hot for the weather,” or things that just plain old don’t “look right.”

Far from being merely a local phenomenon, the standardized program that the LAPD developed in 2008 served as the lead model for a National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative. “Success” stories from the LAPD’s program are used in national training material, and the LAPD touts it as “the first program in the U.S. to create a national standard” for terrorism-related procedures.

According to the Information Sharing Environment, the nationwide SAR initiative “establishes a standardized process whereby SAR information can be shared among agencies to help detect and prevent terrorism-related criminal activity.” Personal data that is collected on these individuals is treated as criminal intelligence. The rapidly expanding and dangerously intrusive network houses personal data on thousands of Americans. “The level and the rate at which local law enforcement is expanding its intelligence-gathering activity is very alarming,” said Ameena Mirza Qazi, deputy executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-LA. “We as community advocacy groups hope to continue to work with law enforcement and encourage them to maintain their community policing models working with communities to identify criminal behavior.”

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Tim DeChristopher’s stint in prison’s ‘hole’ raises questions about solitary confinement

From Deseret News:

By Elizabeth Stuart, Deseret News
Published: Thursday, March 29 2012

Tim DeChristopher’s stint in solitary confinement didn’t last long. Shortly after Rolling Stone broke the news that the climate activist had been locked up for using the word “threat” in an email correspondence, the phone lines at the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., were clogged with thousands of calls protesting his treatment.

“Rolling Stone got him out,” Patrick Shea, DeChristopher’s lawyer, announced after he was quietly moved back to the minimum security camp where he is serving a two-year sentence for a pair of 3rd degree felonies.

But for most of the 25,000 Americans in solitary confinement, things aren’t so easy. DeChristopher’s treatment illustrates what some see as a disturbing trend in the American criminal justice system. While solitary confinement was designed to keep the general prison population safe from volatile inmates, prisoner advocates say many prisons instead use isolation as a disciplinary tool.

“What would have happened to Tim if no one was watching?” Shea said.

People don’t need to be deemed a safety threat to get sent to solitary confinement, Christopher B. Epps, Mississippi’s commissioner of corrections, told Public Radio International.

“It is a punishment,” he said. “And a lot of times, if you don’t have an accountability system in place … they could be placed in there for something as simple as not cleaning up their area or breaking chow line.”

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Voices of Choice — Dr. Mildred Hanson on Pre-Roe Abortions

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In House speech, Rep. Gwen Moore recounts being raped

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) on Wednesday recalled her own experiences of being sexually abused during a speech in favor the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

“Violence against women is as American as apple pie,” she said on the House floor. “I know, not only as a legislator, but from my own personal experience. Domestic violence has been a thread throughout my personal life, up to and including being a child repeatedly sexually assaulted, up to and including being an adult who’s been raped.”

“When this bill came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with all of the Republican senators — all of the guys — voting no, it really brought up some terrible memories for me.”

Moore recounted a childhood experience in which boys sat in a locker room and bet that she “couldn’t be had.”

“And then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn’t going to be so willing, completed a date-rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys,” she continued. “I mean, this is what American women are facing.”

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Rough Justice: UK protester almost killed by cops faces jail

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Maggie, Unapologetic: Race-Baiting Memo Made NOM “Sound Too Big For Our Britches”

From The New Civil rights Movement:

by David Badash
March 30, 2012

Maggie Gallagher appeared on MSNBC today and refused to defend the language in NOM‘s race-baiting memos — but refused to apologize for any of NOM’s race-baiting actions. Denouncing the language in the previously-sealed court documents supplied by the National Organization For Marriage that HRC uncovered this week, Gallagher did defend her organization’s actions and associations with virulently anti-gay minority leaders, but sought to minimize the perception of the role NOM plays — despite spending years positioning herself and the organization she created as the pre-eminent leaders in the fight against same-sex marriage. Gallagher refused to apologize for any of the projects in the internal NOM corporate documents, included those that included race-baiting.

“This was an in-house document. I don’t like the language because I think it makes us sound way too big for our britches,” Gallagher told MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts. “The truth is what we’ve done since 2009, when that was described, is reach out and work with people across lines of different races, different creeds and different colors who believe we need to protect marriages, the union of husband and wife. I would never want to think that any of the minority leaders whether it’s my hero, [New York State Reverend and] Senator Rubén Díaz from the Bronx, or the bishops from the church of God in Christ, the largest black pentecostal denomination, or any other leaders. You know, I’m — it makes me seem more — NOM seem more powerful than it is. It’s insulting to suggest the African-American or Latino leaders are standing up because NOM is manipulating them. The only reason anyone stands up for marriage at this point in this culture is out of principle because we believe it’s a good thing and we’re fighting for what we think is right.”

Also appearing in the segment was GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger, who is openly gay and has battled NOM for years. Karger, which The New Civil Rights Movement reported earlier today, stated NOM is ”manipulating not just race baiting and doing things to divide and conquer but also inserting themselves into a federal election which they also have not reported any money, and I’m looking at filing charges against them on that as well.”

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Everyone at the Table: Local Foods and the Farm Bill

From The Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy:

By JoAnne BerkenkampBill Wenzel
Published March 28, 2012

The local foods movement in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade, but still represents a small portion of the overall food system. How can local food systems continue to grow and remain sustainable?

Every five years, Congress revisits farm and food policy in the U.S. through debate and reauthorization of the Farm Bill. For much of the last 40 years, farm policy has focused on promoting on-farm efficiency, developing domestic and foreign markets and supporting efforts by agribusiness to gain dominance of the global food market. These policies succeeded in making the U.S. a global leader in the production of a handful of commodities, and have dramatically impacted farmers, rural communities, the foods we eat and the environment.

Escalated efficiency, specialization and technological advances have increased the average size of farms significantly but have left far fewer farmers on the land. Farm Bill programs, coupled with trade policies supportive of corporate-led globalization, have played a major role in industrializing agriculture and concentrating the food production and processing industries.

Dissatisfied with the heavy reliance on agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals utilized in large-scale, industrial agriculture, many people have turned to purchasing their food from local sources that they know and trust. Their reasons are many: Foods grown for nearby markets are often harvested at the peak of ripeness and delivered while fresh and flavorful. Buying locally builds relationships between growers and eaters that aren’t possible when food is run through complicated supply chains across long distances. Short supply chains allow for greater transparency about how food is grown and processed.

Still other consumers are concerned about the large carbon footprint left by food produced on industrial-scale farms, processed by multi-national food conglomerates and transported around the globe. Buying locally grown foods can support area farmers and rural economies while building a sense of place and community.

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The Court and Health Care

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The Secret to Aging Well — Not Keeping It a Secret!

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 03/28/2012

One thing that continues to surprise me is how shocked people seem when I admit my age.

With such frequent public displays of midlife success — think Streep at 62 on the cover of Vogue or Madonna at 53 performing at the Super Bowl — you would think that a woman’s age need no longer be kept secret.

Yet, I still sense discomfort as I announce my age, especially amongst people who interview me for magazines, radio or television. Maybe it’s that 58 just sounds so old to them — journalists appear so young these days — but its seem less about my age than about being so open about it all. Am I giving something away that I shouldn’t? Is this some holdover from times past, when good etiquette meant never asking a women her age?

Among the women I know, I find there is a growing sense of pride about reaching the sixth decade of life. While many of us may have once lied about hitting middle age and beyond — shaving a couple of years off milestones after the big 4-0 — the tide seems to be turning. In fact, I predict that in the near future, there will be more men and women who feel as I do, not only proud about their age, but eager to celebrate it as an accomplishment, a sign of health and longevity.

Let me go back a bit to explain how this trend has developed. Over a year ago, I wrote a post, “Does Authenticity Matter Any More?” in which I predicted mounting aversion to the lack of honesty when it came to aging — not just about owning up to one’s birth date, but about who middle aged people really were. “Does she or doesn’t she?” the furtive question once asked about a woman’s hair color had morphed into “Has she or hasn’t she?” — the new uncertainty about what I called women’s “youthenized” faces and bodies. Midlife women were beginning to wonder if they would be able to — or even want to — model themselves after images being portrayed in the media.

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If Big Labor Would But Fight, Millions Would Join Them on the Ramparts

From Common Dreams:

An open letter to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO

by Ralph Nader
Published on Friday, March 30, 2012 by Common Dreams

Dear Mr. Trumka,

You have come to your leadership position of our country’s labor federation of unions with 13 million members the hard way. Starting by working in the coal mines, then becoming a lawyer, heading the United Mine Workers, then becoming the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO before assuming your present position in 2009, who can pull rank on you in the formal labor movement?

Yet, the AFL-CIO’s public leadership in three major areas has been far less effective than one would expect. I am referring to your less than assertive response to President Obama: 1) turning his back on raising the federal minimum wage; 2) failing to advance his card check promise to you in 2008; and 3) dropping the ball on backing long-overdue safety and health responsibilities of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

I say this with the awareness of your group’s public stands in favor of these three crucial matters to working families. But as you well know, there is a very marked difference between being on-the-record, as the AFL-CIO is, and being on-the-daily ramparts pushing these issues, as your organization is not.

Even just making a statement, however, took a back seat in your March 13, 2012 endorsement of Barack Obama for a second term as president. In what ways has Mr. Obama “moved aggressively,” as you declared, “to protect workers rights, pay, health and safety on the job?”

He has neither championed nor pressed Congress, when the Democrats were in control in 2009-2010, to give you card check which you have long-said was needed to reverse the serious decline and expand the ranks of organized labor by millions of workers (you told me this in 2004).

Second, Mr. Obama appointed an excellent head of OSHA and then betrayed OSHA – an agency that has estimated 58,000 workplace-related American deaths a year from disease and trauma! That is over 1000 people a week, every week, on the average.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Fleetwood Mac

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Secret NOM documents reveal disgraceful, racist, anti-family strategy

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NOM’s evasion of race-baiting scandal is as bad as the controversy itself

From Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters:

By Alvin McEwen
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reposted with Permission (actually at Alvin’s urging to spread this one around)

The National Organization for Marriage’s president, Brian Brown, has responded today specifically to the race-baiting scandal which has engulfed the organization:

“Let me be the first to say that the tone of the language in that document as quoted by the press is inapt. Here’s something I know from the bottom of my soul: It would be enormously arrogant for anyone at NOM to believe that we can make or provoke African-American or Latino leaders do anything. The Black and Hispanic Democrats who stand up for marriage do so on principle—and get hit with a wave of vituperative attacks like nothing I have ever seen. We did not cause it, nor can we claim credit for these men and women’s courage in standing up in defense of our most fundamental institution: marriage.”

Do those talking points sound familiar? They should if you read this blog. This is what NOM founder Maggie Gallagher said in the comments section of a National Review blog post she authored (the same blog post in which she asserted that the controversy was the subject of a slow news day):

Let’s put up the comparison, shall we (emphasis on the important portions is done by me).

Brian Brown today:

Let me be the first to say that the tone of the language in that document as quoted by the press is inapt. Here’s something I know from the bottom of my soul: It would be enormously arrogant for anyone at NOM to believe that we can make or provoke African-American or Latino leaders do anything. The Black and Hispanic Democrats who stand up for marriage do so on principle—and get hit with a wave of vituperative attacks like nothing I have ever seen. We did not cause it, nor can we claim credit for these men and women’s courage in standing up in defense of our most fundamental institution: marriage.”

Maggie Gallagher just a few days ago:

The documents used language which I would call ‘inapt’ – – in part because it’s tremendously vain to think that I or NOM or any other white Christian conservative can manipulate black and latino church leaders. I don’t think so. They speak out of their own convictions and become subject to tremendous vituperative for doing so.”

You have to be kidding me! If they expect this to be some sort of credible explanation of NOM’s attempt to drive a wedge between the black and gay communities, then Gallagher and Brown failed.

Almost word for word, these two folks say the same thing.

Apparently the leaking of the confidential documents detailing NOM’s plan of divide and conquer got members of the organization scared witless.

How else can you explain this sadly cobbled explanation? It’s bad enough when one of them says it because it doesn’t even address the point of NOM’s discovered plan. But when both Gallagher and Brown repeat the same explanation almost word-for-word, there is a certain disturbing robotic function to it. It’s like they are reading from a script. There is nothing real about this explanation. It’s plastic.

It simply demonstrates cynical  and rushed planning devoid of integrity or honesty, much like the original plan which got NOM into trouble in the first place.

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Brooklyn DA accused of failing to tackle Orthodox Jews’ cover-up of sex abuse

From The Guardian UK:

Critics say Charles Hynes has failed to wrest control from rabbis who refuse to co-operate with secular authorities

in New York, Thursday 29 March 2012

A systemic cover-up of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclaves continues to obstruct justice for young victims, despite claims by religious leaders and the Brooklyn district attorney that the problem is in hand.

A long-standing culture of non-cooperation with secular justice by Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jews keeps many child sex offenders out of the courts and at large in their communities.

Victim advocates say Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes has failed to wrest control from rabbinic leaders, who continue to hamper efforts to uncover abuse. Hynes’ recent claim to have radically increased prosecution rates for these crimes has drawn scorn from critics.

Brooklyn’s Jewish communities, home to the largest number of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside Israel, are insular and close-knit. They maintain their own shadow justice system based on religious halachic law, enforced by religious courts known as the beit din. In recent years, they have also established their own community police force, the Shomrim.

Like the Catholic bishops before them, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis who lead these communities are charged with the concealment of crimes stretching back decades, and of fostering a culture where witnesses are silenced through intimidation.

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