Battling Asexual Discrimination, Sexual Violence And ‘Corrective’ Rape

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/asexual-discrimination_n_3380551.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

his is the fourth part of a six-part series on asexuality, in which we explore the history of the asexual movement, uncover current research on asexuality, debunk common misconceptions and discuss the challenges the asexual community faces.When Julie Decker was 19, a male friend tried to “fix” her by sexually assaulting her.”It had been a good night,” said Decker, now 35 and a prominent asexual activist and blogger. “I had spoken extensively about my asexuality, and I thought he was listening to me, but I later realized that he had just been letting me talk.”

As she said goodbye to him that night, the man tried to kiss her. When she rejected his advance, he started to lick her face “like a dog,” she said.

“‘I just want to help you,’ he called out to me as I walked away from his car,” she explained. “He was basically saying that I was somehow broken and that he could repair me with his tongue and, theoretically, with his penis. It was totally frustrating and quite scary.”

Sexual harassment and violence, including so-called “corrective” rape, is disturbingly common in the ace community, says Decker, who has received death threats and has been told by several online commenters that she just needs a “good raping.”

“When people hear that you’re asexual, some take that as a challenge,” said Decker, who is currently working on a book about asexuality. “We are perceived as not being fully human because sexual attraction and sexual relationships are seen as something alive, healthy people do. They think that you really want sex but just don’t know it yet. For people who perform corrective rape, they believe that they’re just waking us up and that we’ll thank them for it later.”

In April, a heated debate sparked online when an asexual Tumblr blogger wrote about corrective rape.

“There is a real fear even among the asexual community that people who identify as anything other than heterosexual will be harassed and assaulted,” wrote “Angela,” a self-identified aromantic ace. “They have a reason to be upset and a reason to be afraid, it has happened to many people before.”

In response to the post, an anonymous user wrote, “[A]sexuality is not a thing. You are just ugly and no one wanted to date you, so you made up a thing to cuddle your lonely self as you cry into your pillow. Also, I hope you get raped. It has a dual benefit, you’ll get laid finally AND put you into your place as well.”

The comment triggered a firestorm, with some asexuals speaking out and sharing their own experiences involving sexual violence.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/asexual-discrimination_n_3380551.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Are the Bible Thumpers Losing Their Grip on Our Politics?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/christian-right-0

The Christian Right appears to be in decline, yet Republicans still pander to them. What gives?

By Amanda Marcotte
June 20, 2013

Is the religious right, which has been the electoral backbone of the Republican Party since the creation of the Moral Majority in the ’70s and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, in trouble? The strongly right-wing Washington Times reports rather dimly on the conference for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group founded by religious right luminary Ralph Reed, because it couldn’t even gather 400 audience members, despite having a deep bench of fundamentalist-beloved politicians and celebrities like Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Scott Walker. The Times contrasted the small conference with its ’80s and ’90s counterpart, the Christian Coalition’s Road to the White House conventions, which drew thousands of participants every year.

If such a right-wing publication as the Washington Times is willing to hint at it, maybe it’s really time to ask the question: Is the Christian right beginning to lose its numbers, its mojo, and even its power? While it’s definitely too early to count them out—after all, the religious right, weird fantasies about  masturbating fetuses and all—still wholly owns the Republican Party at this point. Still, is there some hope on the horizon that their once-mighty numbers and power are beginning to dwindle?

Evangelical writer and pastor John S. Dickerson certainly seems to think so. In a piece published for the New York Times in December 2012,  Dickerson bluntly declared that evangelical Christians have become a tiny minority in America:

In the 1980s heyday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, some estimates accounted evangelicals as a third or even close to half of the population, but research by the Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith recently found that Christians who call themselves evangelicals account for just 7 percent of Americans. (Other research has reported that some 25 percent of Americans belong to evangelical denominations, though they may not, in fact, consider themselves evangelicals.) Dr. Smith’s findings are derived from a three-year national study of evangelical identity and influence, financed by the Pew Research Center. They suggest that American evangelicals now number around 20 million, about the population of New York State.

One major reason is strictly demographic: Older fundamentalists are dying off and not being replaced by younger ones.  Research by the Christian Barna Group shows that the 43% of young people raised as evangelicals stop going to church once they grow up. The reasons that  young people get disillusioned with the church track nicely to the reasons the religious right is such a danger to American democracy and freedom: They disagree with the homophobic and sexually judgmental teachings. They disapprove of the church’s attacks on science. They find conservative Christianity intolerant and stifling.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/christian-right-0

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Cyndi Lauper: No homeless LGBT kids

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Camouflaging the Vietnam War: How Textbooks Continue to Keep the Pentagon Papers a Secret

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/18-0

by Bill Bigelow

In the Academy Award-winning documentary Hearts and Minds, Daniel Ellsberg, who secretly copied and then released the Pentagon Papers, offers a catalog of presidential lying about the U.S. role in Vietnam: Truman lied. Eisenhower lied. Kennedy lied. Johnson “lied and lied and lied.” Nixon lied.

Ellsberg concludes: “The American public was lied to month by month by each of these five administrations. As I say, it’s a tribute to the American public that their leaders perceived that they had to be lied to; it’s no tribute to us that it was so easy to fool the public.”

The Pentagon Papers that Ellsberg exposed were not military secrets. They were historical secrets—a history of U.S. intervention and deceit that Ellsberg believed, if widely known, would undermine the U.S. pretexts in defense of the war’s prosecution. Like this one that President Kennedy offered in 1961: “For the last decade we have been helping the South Vietnamese to maintain their independence.” No. This was a lie. The U.S. government’s Pentagon Papers history of the war revealed how the United States had sided with the French in retaking its colony after World War II, ultimately paying for some 80 percent of the French reconquest. By the U.S. government’s own account, from Truman on, Vietnamese self-determination was never an aim of U.S. foreign policy.

Like today’s whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg knew the consequences for his act of defiance. Ultimately, he was indicted on 11 counts of theft and violation of the Espionage Act. If convicted on all counts, the penalty added up to 130 years in prison. This story is chronicled dramatically in the film The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, and in Ellsberg’s own gripping autobiography, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

In June of 1971, Ellsberg surrendered to federal authorities at Post Office Square in Boston. Forty-two years later, few of the historical secrets that Ellsberg revealed— especially those that focus on the immediate post-World War II origins of U.S. involvement in Vietnam—appear in the school curriculum.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/18-0

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Get Pissed Off and Break Things

From Ted Rall:  http://www.rall.com/rallblog/2013/06/21/syndicated-column-get-pissed-off-and-break-things

By Ted Rall
June 21st, 2013

Why Are Americans So Passive?

There’s a reason “Keep Calm and Carry On” is everywhere. When people lose everything — their economic aspirations, their freedom, their privacy — when there’s nothing they can do to restore what they’ve lost — all they have left is dignity.

Remember Saddam? Seconds before he was hanged, disheveled and disrespected, the deposed dictator held his head high, his eyes blazing with contempt as he spat sarcastic insults at his executioners. He “faced death like a lion,” said his supposed body double, Latif Yahia, and no one could argue. He left this life with the one thing he could control intact.

Dignity. That’s what “Keep Calm and Carry On” is all about. That’s what we think of when we think of the Battle of Britain. As German bombs rained down, the English went about their business. Like the iconic photo of the milkman tiptoeing over rubble. Like the bomb-damaged stores whose shopkeepers posted signs that read “We are still open — more open than usual.”

Man, that is so not us.

You’ve seen the T-shirts, with their clean Gill Sans-esque lettering and iconic crown. There are mugs, postcards and posters. Of course. It’s a reproduction of a propaganda poster from World War II, an (unsuccessful, because it wasn’t distributed) attempt by the British government to steel jittery citizens during the Blitz.

“Keep Calm and Carry On” merch dates to 2000 but really took off after 9/11; the popularity of the image, the stoicism of its call to stiffen upper lips everywhere, and numerous parodies (“Stay Alive and Kill Zombies”) has generated millions of dollars of profits, inevitably sparking lawsuits and inspiring a song by John Nolan.

Why is a meme originally prepared for a possible German invasion of the UK (which is why it wasn’t released) popular now? Zizi Papacharissi, communications professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, points to the crappy economy. “We are undergoing a profound and fairly global economic crisis, so it is natural to revisit the saying: Keep calm and carry on. It reminds us of courage shown back then, and how courage shown helped people pluck through a crisis.”

It’s also a reaction to terrorism — or more accurately a reaction to the initial reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks: hysteria, jingoism, multiple wars of choice, all doomed. More than any other factor, Obama owed his 2008 victory to his (Maureen Dowd called him) Vulcan personality: cool, implacable, possibly non-sentient, the anti-Dubya.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rall.com/rallblog/2013/06/21/syndicated-column-get-pissed-off-and-break-things

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Canada criminalizes masks at ‘unlawful’ protests with up to 10 years in prison

From The Verge:  http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/20/4447544/canada-bill-c-309-concealment-identity-act-criminalizes-masks-at-riots

By Jeff Blagdon
on June 20, 2013

Canada’s controversial Concealment of Identity Act banning the wearing of masks during riots and “unlawful assemblies” has just gone into law, carrying with it a 10-year maximum sentence, reports CBC News. The private member’s bill was introduced in 2011 by MP Blake Richards in response to the increasing prevalence of vandalism at political protests and sporting events.

It’s noteworthy that there is already a federal law in Canada that prohibits wearing a disguise “with intent to commit an indictable offence” and carries the same 10-year maximum. The distinction in language is deliberate: Richards has criticized the existing law for its high burden of proof. Now, instead of requiring intent to commit a criminal act in order to charge a protester, he or she only needs to be in attendance at an unlawful assembly. Richards has insisted that the law is necessary for dealing with protesters “pre-emptively,” before a protest escalates. And what distinguishes an unlawful assembly from a lawful one? The CBC points out that it’s “an assembly of three or more persons who, with intent to carry out any common purpose, assemble in such a manner… as to cause persons in the neighbourhood… to fear… that they will disturb the peace tumultuously.”

Many, such as Osgoode Hall Law School Professor James Stribopoulos, have pointed to the possible “chilling effects” posed by making it unlawful to disguise one’s identity at a protest, say to prevent against reprisals from your boss or coworkers, or to avoid facial recognition software. The CBC notes that exceptions can be made for “lawful excuses” for face covergings, like religion or medical conditions, but Stribopoulos has countered that most judgments about an excuse’s “lawfulness” will fall to police in the field.

See Also:

Reader Supported News: Wearing a Mask at a Riot Is Now a Crime

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On the Espionage Act charges against Edward Snowden

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/22/snowden-espionage-charges

Who is actually bringing ‘injury to America’: those who are secretly building a massive surveillance system or those who inform citizens that it’s being done?


guardian.co.uk, Saturday 22 June 2013

The US government has charged Edward Snowden with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute enacted to criminalize dissent against World War I. My priority at the moment is working on our next set of stories, so I just want to briefly note a few points about this.

Prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration, there were a grand total of three prosecutions of leakers under the Espionage Act (including the prosecution of Dan Ellsberg by the Nixon DOJ). That’s because the statute is so broad that even the US government has largely refrained from using it. But during the Obama presidency, there are now seven such prosecutions: more than double the number under all prior US presidents combined. How can anyone justify that?

For a politician who tried to convince Americans to elect him based on repeated pledges of unprecedented transparency and specific vows to protect “noble” and “patriotic” whistleblowers, is this unparalleled assault on those who enable investigative journalism remotely defensible? Recall that the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said recently that this oppressive climate created by the Obama presidency has brought investigative journalism to a “standstill”, while James Goodale, the General Counsel for the New York Times during its battles with the Nixon administration, wrote last month in that paper that “President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.” Read what Mayer and Goodale wrote and ask yourself: is the Obama administration’s threat to the news-gathering process not a serious crisis at this point?

Few people – likely including Snowden himself – would contest that his actions constitute some sort of breach of the law. He made his choice based on basic theories of civil disobedience: that those who control the law have become corrupt, that the law in this case (by concealing the actions of government officials in building this massive spying apparatus in secret) is a tool of injustice, and that he felt compelled to act in violation of it in order to expose these official bad acts and enable debate and reform.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/22/snowden-espionage-charges

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