Mom defends son mistaken for a girl in open letter

See Also: Ben and Birdy:  An open letter to the guy who chased my son out of the men’s bathroom after mistaking him for a girl

From Gay Star UK:

A mother has written a frank open letter to the man who chased her son out of the men’s room after mistaking him for a girl

By Dan Beeson
20 March 2013

The mother of a young boy has written a sarcastic open letter to the man who chased a boy out of a bathroom after he mistook her for a girl.

After being corrected by the boy’s mother, the man still insisted her son was a girl.

The boy then tried to explain why he had been in the men’s bathroom, but the man wasn’t convinced.

He then began to ask whether the woman was ‘its’ mother.

This possessed her to address his ignorance and his decision to verbally harass a child originally posted on Ben and Birdy.

Her letter reads:

I just want to start by applauding your decision to shout at us right off the bat. ‘She was in the men’s room! Your daughter was in the men’s room! A girl in the men’s room!’ For one thing, how else will we learn? For another, how else will we be covered in spittle?

Plus, I think it’s good, if you see something unexpected, to proceed with violent certainty rather than with, say, wonder or even doubt. Like the time I found that slightly darker ‘O’ in my bowl of Cheerios and freaked out because I knew for sure that it was a wheel from the landing gear of a miniature UFO that was going to abduct me and probe my anus; if it were cereal, it would look like the rest of the cereal. Likewise, if you see a doll with short hair, even if it’s lying next to a pair of scissors, you should think, ‘Ew. When did Ken’s boobs get so big?’

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New Lamps For Old

From The Association For Transgender Professionals:

March 25, 2013

The Arizona State Legislature has been kicking around a bill to make it a misdemeanor for anyone to use a gender-specific public facility that was not aligned with the sex on the user’s birth certificate.  The sponsor of the bill announced recently that he was delaying a debate over it after dozens of transgender people flooded the State House of Representatives.

Lots of people have written about the silliness of the bill, which would de facto require anyone with the slightest non-conforming gender expression to carry around their birth certificate simply to use a public toilet.  Even more silly is that to identify who is who when taking a quick pee, the police would have to use some sort of profiling to guess at who was born with what.  Oddly that will fail pretty quickly since a number of States correct birth-certificates back to the time of birth, so that even a birth-certificate that says MALE, does not mean that the bearer was assigned that way at birth.

I want to veer away from the stupidity of Rep. John Kavanagh’s bill and look at the historical issue of discrimination toward people with non-conforming gender expression and the struggle between gender expression diversity and gender expression homogeneity.

This struggle is ultimately a clash of cultures extending back nearly 2500 years.  A tiny kingdom was struggling to keep its cultural identity while surrounded by powerful multicultural enemies.  Its sister kingdom in the north had just been overrun by a powerful nation and its own citizens were increasingly turning to worshiping the old gods at home and in the temple.  The old multicultural king was killed in palace coup and his 8-year old son was placed on the throne by the monotheistic (and wealthy) land owners.  Under the guidance of the people of the land, the boy grew into a man who believed the ills of his kingdom were the result of the worship of foreign gods and idols (who really weren’t foreign but certainly were older).  The king became a reformer who banished the idols and old gods from the temple.  To distract the people from the loss of their gods, the king restored the temple which was originally dedicated to the one true god hundreds of years earlier, before the old kingdom was split in two, north and south.  During the restoration of the temple of the one true god, the chief priest discovered a text which he attributed to the one god’s first law giver.  It was, not surprisingly, a book of laws for the kingdom’s chosen people to protect them from cultures of the surrounding heathens.

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UK’s Press Complaints Commission decides ‘dicks in chicks’ trans column was not prejudicial or pejorative

From Gay Star News UK:

Press self-regulating body rejects 800 complaints about a column that referred to trans people as ‘dicks in chicks’

By Anna Leach
27 March 2013

The UK’s Press Complaints Commission (PCC), the current self-regulatory body for print media, has decided that a column describing transgender people as ‘dicks in chicks’ among other slurs was not prejudicial or pejorative.

The PCC received 800 complaints after The Observer published the column written by Julie Burchill in January this year.

The column was withdrawn by The Observer and editor John Mulholland apologized. But the offending piece was re-published by The Daily Telegraph in the interests of ‘free speech’.

The PCC’s Code of Conduct states that editors ‘must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability’. ‘Gender identity’ is missing from that list.

‘Reading between the lines, I imagine the commission took the view that it was a matter of taste and therefore lay within the editor’s prerogative,’ said media commentator Roy Greenslade.

Greenslade points to an internal Observer inquiry about the column which found that publishing it has broken the newspapers code that it ‘should not casually use words that are likely to offend’.

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Supreme Court Proposition 8 Case Arguments Cast Doubt On Gay Marriage Ban

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony Kennedy on Tuesday called the prospect of same-sex marriage “uncharted waters” during oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban.

“And you can play with that metaphor,” Kennedy said, continuing that in that consideration, “There’s a wonderful destination” or “a cliff.”

Prop 8 was the California ballot referendum passed in November 2008 that banned same-sex marriage, reversing by popular vote the state Supreme Court’s decision just months earlier to recognize marriage equality.

Kennedy seemed genuinely interested in that “wonderful destination” and mortified by the prospect that there still might be a cliff. He acknowledged that while the social science on gay marriage is relatively new, there is an “immediate” legal harm to those same-sex couples who cannot be married. He said the voice of thousands of children of same-sex couples is an important aspect of the case.

“They want their parents to have full recognition and legal status,” Kennedy told Charles J. Cooper, who is representing supporters of Prop 8’s ban on gay marriage. “The voice of those children is considerable in this case, don’t you think?”

Kennedy also expressed deep doubts that Prop 8, and same-sex marriage bans in general, present “no harm of denigration” against gays and lesbians.

Before the justices even reached the merits of the constitutional case for same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts instructed both advocates to argue whether the parties defending Prop 8 had legal standing.

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The gay marriage snowball and political change

From The Guardian UK:

The shockingly rapid and radical collapse of the anti-gay framework demonstrates the baselessness of defeatism, Tuesday 26 March 2013

The US Supreme Court this morning is hearing oral argument in two cases challenging the constitutionality of laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. It is expected that the Court will at least strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, as multiple lower courts have done, on the ground that it denies equal government benefits to same-sex couples (such as immigration rights). Over the past two weeks, numerous national Democratic politicians, led by Hillary Clinton and joined by other centrist to conservative senators, announced that they have changed their minds and now support marriage equality, a move tellingly perceived as an attempt to get on “the right side of history”. All of that was preceded by a reliably right-wing GOP Senator, Rob Portman, doing the same by citing his gay son. Marriage equality is a position the US president and his party formally endorse, and polls continue to show dramatic increases in public support to the point where it is now a position affirmed by a large majority of Americans. It’s conventional wisdom that national gay marriage is inevitable; the tipping point has clearly been reached.

It really is a bit shocking how quickly gay marriage transformed from being a fringe, politically toxic position just a few years ago to a virtual piety that must be affirmed in decent company. Whenever I write or speak about any of the issues on which I focus, I always emphasize that a posture of defeatism – which is a form of learned impotence: a belief that meaningful change is impossible – is misguided. This demonstrates why that is true: even the most ossified biases and entrenched institutional injustices can be subverted – if the necessary passion and will are summoned and the right strategies found.

I don’t want to overstate the lesson here. There are reasons why such radical change on this issue is easier than on many others. Social issues don’t threaten entrenched ruling interests: allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn’t undermine oligarchs, the National Security State, or the wildly unequal distribution of financial and political power. Indeed, many of those ruling interests, led by Wall Street and other assorted plutocrats (including Obama’s donor base), became the most devoted advocates for LGBT equality. If anything, one could say that the shift on this issue has been more institution-affirming than institution-subverting: the campaign to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continually glorified and even fetishized military service, while gay marriage revitalizes a traditional institution – marriage – that heterosexuals have been in the process of killing with whimsical weddings, impetuous divorces, and serial new spouses (as Rush Limbaugh might put it: I’d like you to meet my fourth wife). And these changes are taking a once marginalized and culturally independent community and fully integrating it into mainstream society, thus making that community invested in conventional societal institutions.

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Why Is Gay Marriage Different Than Abortion?

From Raw Story:

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about DOMA and Prop 8 today, and there’s a lot of anticipation now, especially since they could truly use this opportunity to not only strike down these laws but also to make same-sex marriage a right held by all Americans. Unsurprisingly, same-sex marriage opponents are grimly warning pro-gay people that a win in the courts is going to backfire, an argument I find asinine on many levels.

The long-standing opposition to abortion rights post-Roe has nothing to do with the haste in which the Supreme Court moved to protect women’s rights. Let’s give our opponents the dignity of assuming they aren’t that stupid; their opposition to women’s rights is genuine, and not a temper tantrum over process. That said, I do think there’s a strong reason to believe that, unlike abortion, once conservatives lose the legal battle over same-sex marriage, they’ll probably give up, much as they did on the question of interracial marriage.

The reason is that conservatives are obsessed with appearances, far more than liberals, who tend to have an ideal of reconciling reality and appearances. That’s how conservatives can prattle about waiting for sex until marriage while 95% of Americans—including most people engaging in the prattle—have sex before marriage. This kind of social hypocrisy is held by both right and left—for instance, both Democrats and Republicans use drugs while supporting drug prohibition—but tends to be more of a thing for folks on the right. That’s why conservatives are fond of abortion bans. Abortion is a private medical choice, and so it’s easy enough to secretly get an abortion while publicly denouncing abortion rights. For well-off conservatives, abortion will always be an option, even if it’s banned, because you can just pay a discreet doctor to do it or travel to Canada.

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Mr. Deity & The Chaplain

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The Morality Brigade

From Robert Reich:

Robert Reich
Monday, March 25, 2013

We’re still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in “Roe v. Wade,” which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

The morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

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Housekeeper Who Stole a Bag of Frozen Meatballs Facing As Much Jail Time As Steubenville Rapist

From Alternet:

Why do we stand by this absurd criminal justice system?

By Alyssa Figueroa
March 26, 2013

A housekeeper at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is facing two years in jail for allegedly stealing a bag of meatballs. Estelle Casimir, 56, who had been working for West Point’s food service company, Watson Services, for 28 years, was purportedly seen carrying the bag in an area where she doesn’t work. According to an affidavit, when supervisors approached Casimir and questioned her about the bag she was carrying, she told them she was throwing it in the garbage. Casimir was reportedly only responsible for cleaning the latrines in the mess hall, not disposing of food, and according to supervisors, could have thrown the bag in a closer garbage instead of the downstairs dumpster she said she was headed to.

Now, Casimir has been suspended from her position and is looking for housecleaning work. She told The Journal News, “I just sit in the house. … I don’t have anything to do.” Casimir has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor crimes for stealing property and possessing stolen property and faces up to one year in jail for each count as well as a $1,000 fine. She pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing.

Gawker pointed out on Monday that she faces the same amount of time Trent Mays was sentenced to serve after being found guilty in the Steubenville rape case.

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Elizabeth Warren – Senate HELP Committee – Minimum Wage

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Matt Taibbi: JPMorgan Hearings Showed That ‘We Have Absolutely No Idea What’s Going On’ At Banks

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 03/26/2013

If there’s been one positive result of the largest U.S. bank grappling with $6.2 billion in trading losses, perhaps it’s everyone else learning how little we truly know about these massive institutions.

Matt Taibbi recently told Sam Seder’s Majority Report that a Senate committee’s recent grilling of former JPMorgan Chase executives over the London Whale scandal was a pivotal moment for those hoping to hold banks more accountable.

Some suggest that the report, which found that JPMorgan executives consistently disregarded or covered up red flags, shows that big banks have become too big to manage.

“They showed everybody that there are zero internal controls at these companies and that we have absolutely no idea what’s going on, and that just exposed everybody to the danger that we’re in,” Taibbi said.

There appears to be growing support for ending the government backstop for big banks. Roughly half of Americans support breaking up the big banks, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. And just last Friday, the Senate voted unanimously to end the subsidies for too-big-to-fail banks in a symbolic vote.

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Economics and the Twin Horsemen of the New Apocalypse

From Common Dreams:

by John Atcheson
Published on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

What is the purpose of the economy?

When you get down to it, this is the question of our time.

How we answer it determines whether we will be able to sustain civilization as we know it beyond the mid-century.

Yet most of economics concerns itself with what an economy does, not what its goal is or ought to be.  For example, much of economic policy can be summed up in the words of Harvard economist, Dani Rodrick, who distilled economic development down to the a three word mantra, “stabilize, privatize and liberalize.”

To what end? That question isn’t even considered. The implicit assumptions, of course, are maximizing economic growth and creating more wealth.

These two unexamined assumptions are the twin horsemen of the new apocalypse.

People generally have a sense of what is meant by growth, but the concept of what constitutes wealth is a bit more elusive.  Most definitions offered by economists can be represented by a statement like this: those material things which are produced by labor, can satisfy human wants, and must have an exchange value.  Note that money – or currency – is not wealth in this definition.  But, the exchange value we use to measure wealth is money.

Whether that growth is distributed fairly and whether it exceeds the capacity of the environment to sustain, is either assumed away by the Invisible Hand, or dismissed disdainfully by economists as the province of philosophers and other soft academics in squishy social disciplines.

In fact, many economists—schooled by the most popular text in the discipline, Paul Samuelson’s Economics, or one of its many newer incarnations—take pride in saying that their discipline is non-normative—that is, amoral.  Not immoral, but operating outside the context of values, ethics and morality.

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The corporate ‘predator state’

From The Washington Post:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bipartisan agreement in Washington usually means citizens should hold on to their wallets or get ready for another threat to peace. In today’s politics, the bipartisan center usually applauds when entrenched interests and big money speak. Beneath all the partisan bickering, bipartisan majorities are solid for a trade policy run by and for multinationals, a health-care system serving insurance and drug companies, an energy policy for Big Oil and King Coal, and finance favoring banks that are too big to fail.

Economist James Galbraith calls this the “predator state,” one in which large corporate interests rig the rules to protect their subsidies, tax dodges and monopolies. This isn’t the free market; it’s a rigged market.

Wall Street is a classic example. The attorney general announces that some banks are too big to prosecute. Despite what the FBI called an “epidemic of fraud,” not one head of a big bank has gone to jail or paid a major personal fine. Bloomberg News estimated that the subsidy they are provided by being too big to fail adds up to an estimated $83 billion a year.

Corporate welfare is, of course, offensive to progressives. The Nation and other media expose the endless outrages — drug companies getting Congress to ban Medicare negotiating bulk discounts on prices, Big Oil protecting billions in subsidies, multinationals hoarding a couple of trillion dollars abroad to avoid paying taxes, and much more.

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