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“Most of my friends won’t repost this…”

You’ve seen these things before, right? On Facebook, mostly, usually something about some injustice that ends with a crude, hamfisted attempt to manipulate people into sharing it and spreading it around more by implying that those who don’t are either callous or taking part in whatever the issue is.

I hate them. I hate when people try to manipulate me.

So I figured, as a public service, I’d announce that anything which has something like that, “I bet 99% of you won’t, but re-post this if you’re that 1% with a heart”, or whatever, will be ignored by me regardless of content. I suppose if there’s something that actually needs to be said there I can take it as inspiration to write up my own post about it, but I will not be spreading shit like that around.

And if you are one of the people who make these things, if that sort of cheap emotional blackmail is something you’re willing to use, either to spread awareness of a genuine issue or just to boost your own ego, then I kindly invite you to go fuck yourself.

This is one of those posts I think of writing every time I see one of those asinine things, but it was this splendid and worthwhile blog post by Alyson Miers that got me to actually write it.

Ex-gays and the Anoka-Hennepin School District

Doesn’t it sound like the world’s most awkward band name?

I found this article very interesting. I’ve written about Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District before, and probably will again. It’s nice to see the school district standing up to the Parents Action League, gives me hope that maybe there really will be a better future for the children in those schools.

The Parents Action League is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a title they wear with pride. That probably tells you just about everything you need to know about them, really.

Something the PAL was pushing for pretty hard in their list of demands was including “ex-gay” material in the school libraries and counseling offices, and generally providing access and credibility to ex-gay organizations. Frankly you start to wonder if someone has a money interest, there. Read the rest of this entry

The evil addictions of Planned Parenthood!

I’m running into Poe’s Law here. I genuinely have no idea whether or not this is a parody. If it were just the videos I’d assume it was, but after looking over the website a little I find it hard to believe that anyone could work this hard on a parody. Here’s the video:

It’s just amazing, isn’t it? I saw this Monday on a post by Christina at WWJTD, who probably wrote more coherently about it than I will. Frankly I’m tempted to just point and laugh.

If you don’t feel like spending six and a half minutes of your precious life watching this shit, and I can’t say I blame you, it directly compares Planned Parenthood to drug dealers. Seriously. Saying that PP gets kids addicted to sex so that they can sell abortions. I am not making this up, it’s right there in the video. You see why I’m not sure whether they’re joking or not? Read the rest of this entry

Turning back the clock on sex.

So, I was looking at this page about a GOP Rep lying about the morning after pill and whining that religion should have some privileged place in the law. I looked at the links in the sidebar, so many of which are about political attacks on women. I thought of Rush Limbaugh’s insane demand for sex videos from women who use birth control. And I tried to imagine the world these assholes are trying to create.

It made me think of My Secret Life. First published in 1888, this anonymous sex diary is a fascinating uncensored look into the side of Victorian culture that was so carefully hidden in published work from that era. “Walter” holds nothing back in describing his sexual adventures and it can be uncomfortable to read at times. Read the rest of this entry

Making others live by your rules

I’d meant to just toss that video up with a short paragraph and call it a day for blogging, but I foolishly clicked a link I saw on Twitter. I’m going to quote the bit that made me too angry to do anything more productive than this.

Asserting conscientious objections, nurses in New Jersey have said they would not check the vital signs of patients recovering from abortions.

I want to make it crystal fucking clear what I’m seeing here. I’m seeing that nurses, people who are well-trained professionals in taking care of sick or injured people, will not make the basic checks necessary for the safety and well-being of their patient if they don’t like the procedure that patient is in for. And they’re calling it a decision of “conscience”, apparently without irony.

How dare you call that conscience? The word should die on your tongue. Read the rest of this entry

Healthy

I saw an article on the front page of the Fresno Bee today from California Watch about preventable hospitalizations. 335,000 in California, I’m guessing in 2011, though the article doesn’t specify. These are cases where someone went to the hospital for something that wouldn’t have been an issue if they’d been getting preventative care, or stuff that would have been dealt with if they’d seen a doctor recently.

The reason there are so many is simple enough, medical care is expensive, and lots of Americans don’t have health insurance. Why that is the case is less clear to me. Read the rest of this entry

Susan G. Komen Abandons Women

As you’ve probably heard by now, breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure is ending all grants and funding to Planned Parenthood. Here‘s Greg Laden on it, and here‘s NPR. I don’t really have anything to say that you can’t get from them.

I read someone cheering this decision, claiming it was the right choice because “life matters”. What life? Women are going to die because of this, not blastocysts that could potentially become women, but real whole living breathing women. You have the audacity to say that’s good because “life matters”? Fuck you.

Could someone please explain to me why so many people have such a fucking hard on for screwing Planned Parenthood, and all the women who depend on them for their health?

How long must Xmas last?

Every year people make the same tired jokes about Christmas starting early, myself included. But I’m really starting to wonder about that, I can sort of understand how stores would want to start getting their hooks in early, but surely there must be a point where it’s counterproductive. I mean, eventually they’re not getting anyone else fired up about whatever dumb toy they’re trying to convince everyone they can’t live without and further efforts are just wasting resources and annoying people, right?

The deeper cultural implications of the holiday, including the laughable “War on Xmas” bullshit, I’ll save for another day when I’m up to writing a longer post.

We’re up to slightly more than a sixth of the year for xmas, which is clearly too damn long for me. Like summer, the issue isn’t that I don’t like it, it’s simple fatigue. I get sick of the damn thing dragging on and on and just want it to end already. I remember reading a book when I was a kid, and a character was shocked that his dad was thinking about Christmas so early, when they were still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, and even then that seemed like a joke to me.

It especially seems cruel to small children to stretch Christmas hype out for months. When you’re five, a month is a very, very long time.

This post brought to you by the realization that by the time December starts I’m already tired of Christmas music.

Which way are you going, Mississippi?

I often find it easier to write about topics that piss me off, though maybe harder to write  coherently. The world at large really doesn’t need to treat this as an invitation.

Here’s the full text of a proposed amendment to the Mississippi state constitution that will be voted on during Tuesday’s election. (Lest you think I’m leaving something out, here‘s a link to the secretary of state’s site. Click the green checkmark for initiatives.)

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of
Mississippi:

SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of
the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE
ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:

SECTION 33. Person defined. As used in this
Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’
or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from
the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional
equivalent thereof.”

This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

This is giving full civil rights status to a single cell. Not only that, but single cells which are totally dependent on a woman’s body. Like some cheesy sci-fi flick, it’s two people in one body! Read the rest of this entry

Hang your head in shame, Michigan

Ok seriously, what the fuck is wrong with people? Wednesday the state of Michigan passed “Matt’s Safe School Law“, an anti-bullying measure. (More here)

You’d think an “anti-bullying” law named after a boy who killed himself after constant bullying would require school districts to report bullying incidents, include provisions for enforcement and teacher training, and hold administrators accountable if they fail to act. This law does none of those things. What it does do is say that bullying is justifiable if done out of “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction”. This is an anti-bullying law that protects bullies.

When I try to imagine this from the perspective of Matt Epling’s family I’m not sure if I want to vomit or hit someone.

Over the last year there’s been a lot of attention paid to teen suicides linked to bullying. Most of those were kids who were gay, or at least assumed to be gay by their tormentors. Every time I’ve seen this discussed, there’s been a lot of talk about two subjects: First, how many of the kids were actually gay. Second, whether Christians should hate & persecute gays, or hate them but show compassion, or just treat them like any other person. You know what? It doesn’t matter.

If you’re bullying someone to the point where they feel so trapped and powerless that they resort to suicide, you‘re the villain. What Jesus thinks of your victim changes nothing about the nature of your crime, you are still deliberately tormenting another. Bullying is defined by the act, not the victim. Torturing a terrorist is still torture, lynching Hitler is still murder. The act is what matters here, everything else is just victim-blaming and making excuses.

On the subject of excuses, if you’re a school administrator who’d making excuses for this shit you need to recognize that those victims are children entrusted to your care. Their safety should be your first priority and if bullying is happening on your watch you are failing. Saying “boys will be boys” or similar trite bullshit just compounds your failure by trivializing the suffering of children under your care and a willful attempt to deflect your negligence.

Bullying is wrong regardless of who’s doing it to whom. You should be ashamed of yourself, Michigan.

Two out of four ain’t bad?

The remarkable Greta Christina recently posted an article titled “Wealthy, Handsome, Strong, and with Endless Hard-Ons: Is Masculinity Impossible?.” It’s an interesting read which I recommend, and discusses how sexual stereotypes can be hurtful to men as well as women.

This was still fresh in my mind when I had the opportunity to join Google+ (expect a Social Networking Junkie post about that in the next week). Joining Google+ was very simple for me, I just had to add a few things to my Google Profile and click “Join”. One thing they wanted to know was my sex, and this was not optional.

I thought about it a bit, and realized that that’s one of the things that’s almost always required for just about any internet site you can sign up for. They not only always want to know your sex, but they usually just have a dropdown or radio buttons with the choices of “Male” or “Female”. I guess intersex people just have to knuckle down and choose which box to get squeezed into. (In fairness, Google does include an option for “Other”. Personally I’d prefer just a textbox to say whatever you damn well please in.)

But this isn’t just about recognizing the intersex or the transgender or any other person to whom the answer is not so simple as “M or F”, this irritates me on a deeper level. Why should it matter? What does Facebook care what my chromosomes are, why is it any of Google’s business what’s between my legs? Like so many other things that annoy the fuck out of me, the answer is marketing.

Advertisers want to know. Presumably they use different strategies to try to convince men to buy more shit than women, and they want data both to plan with and to target with. I’m quite sure my Google ads will be different if I edit my profile to give myself a sex change. And what interests me about this is that they aren’t merely working from sexual stereotypes, but actively contributing to them. It’s like a weird feedback loop.

It also feels very unnecessary to me, especially if the typical result is something like this Burger King sandwich in Japan that’s advertised as “suitable for women”. It seems stupid & derisive to treat people as cardboard cutouts like this, especially in a world that’s rapidly leaving gender roles behind. It may even be counterproductive, marketing to stereotypes is only going to appeal to those who feel they fit that stereotype. Anyone else is either buying it in spite of your ad campaign or shopping elsewhere.

More than anything I hate it because it tells people who they are “supposed” to be and how they should act. Men should be obsessed with sports, sex, and shiny toys. Women should be focused on clothes, cooking, and cleaning. Everybody should be as stupid as possible. Intersex people shouldn’t exist. It’s getting broader now, the repertoire of stupid stereotypes is growing, but it’s all still the same shit. And I hate it.

So, in defiance of stereotypes and in solidarity with those who don’t quite fit into the roles or the underwear society would force them into I told Google my sex was “Other”. I don’t want to be in your box, I’ll make my own.

Gay Marriage

(For more on this subject in general, and the ongoing legal battles over prop8 in particular, I recommend the excellent Prop 8 Trial Tracker)

Last weekend New York passed a bill legalizing gay marriage. I haven’t talked about it here because I kind of felt that everything had been said already, but you know what? They haven’t been said by me, and that’s already bitten me in the ass once, so here’s my say.

If this looks too long to read and you just want to know in simple terms how I feel about it so you can categorize me or something, I’m saying “Marriage bans do nothing but prevent some people from marrying the person they choose. Way to go New York, hope the remaining 44 states follow you into the 21st century soon!” If that’s all you need to know, then there’s no point in reading past the cut. Those of you who want details? Onward!
Read the rest of this entry

Walmart vs Women

Monday morning the Supreme Court decided that a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart cannot proceed as a class-action suit. Here is the decision in pdf. When I refer to page numbers, I’ll be talking about the pdf page for simplicity’s sake. Buckle in, folks, this is going to be a long ride.

I should start with the usual disclaimer pointing out that I am not a lawyer, nor am I trained in the minutiae of legal language. While following the Prop 8 trial I read a lot of legal briefs and had lawyers helping me to understand them which gives me at least a general feel for how these documents work, but I am not by any stretch an expert nor do I pretend to understand the nuances of legal theory. (It’s also worth mentioning that many papers concerned with Prop 8, especially Amicus Curiae briefs supporting the Defendant-Intervenors, were completely insane. Seriously.) As such I’ll mostly keep my discussion onto parts I more or less understand, more philosophy than legality. On those terms, at least, I feel that I can show that Scalia needs a new title. I propose from now on he be known as “Little Janie Q Scalia”. Read the rest of this entry

Challenge 1: Spider Jerusalem Rant

So, my first challenge is to write a Spider Jerusalem style rant. I’m going to put that behind a cut, because it’s going to be long and vile. As a small disclaimer, I am not a professional journalist, so this rant is not well-researched and I cannot back it up the way Spider could. That said this will be honest, however wrong it may be.

Read the rest of this entry

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