Posts Tagged women

Dear Pope

On this Easter, as you address the world and the people sheep who have flocked around you to listen to your hopeful phony messages about love, peace and understanding – concepts you merely like to talk about it seems in lofty attire while releasing doves into the sky but which, given your Church’s track record even as we speak, you have no intention of actually ever backing with real, meaningful actions, let me, as an atheist whom you graciously say is not a monster after all, tell you a few things.

Now, I am not inclined at this moment to go into a whole discussion about the absurdity of religion and, in particular, of your particular brand of faith that prompts you to “pray” for peace every year  and every year we don’t get this peace you, as a especially pious man, have been lobbying for, but I will tell you that Easter is a Pagan tradition that has hardly anything to do with Jesus.

Easter eggs and bunnies and the Spring equinox have as much to do with Christ as Christmas trees, mistletoe and the fall equinox and winter solstice. In fact, there is really nothing Christian or Biblical about forty days of Lent, decorated trees in your homes, engraved images and symbols of Ba’al and Ishtar, the sun Gods, the use of Evergreen and mistletoe, the latter of which Pagan priests (Druids) used to conjure black magic in love potions, “sunrise services”, Santa Clause, decorated eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham symbolizing and worshiping the Goddess Ēostre.

These things, however, have everything to do with the ancient pagan traditions of Babylon and Mesopotamia. Engaging in such activities makes professing Christians nothing but idolaters, but I guess you know that being the head of the Church. Woops.

Secondly, since you are talking about peace and its importance and how to achieve it, let this lowly atheist enlighten you on the fact that you do not achieve peace by talking about it, but by identifying what the impediments to it are and addressing the challenges that stand in the way of peace, accordingly.

In the larger sense, you achieve peace by recognizing the inherent dignity in all of us; by creating bonds of friendship and bridges of cooperation among people regardless of their identities and inherent attributes.

You achieve peace by respecting and acknowledging an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being whose agency as a human being should be respected and upheld.

You achieve peace by inspiring those who follow you to respect and acknowledge an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being deserving of the same rights as everyone else.

You achieve peace by empowering women – which entails recognizing them as fully equal human beings who have the right to maintain control over their bodies and reproduction; as people with their own agency and a right to self-governance because viewing and treating women as second class human beings who ought to have no control and agency over their own bodies according to the finest tradition of your oppressive , bigoted, misogynistic Church and its practices for hundreds of years, is precisely the reason why women are not empowered.

And make no mistake about it: empowerment of women has everything to do with both peace and economic stability and is, in fact, an integral part of it.  By taking a profoundly anti-choice stance, you marginalize women and disempower them, which leads to the very poverty you want to see end.

You create peace by spending some of your tax exempt riches on the under-privileged and poor in society; on educating the ignorant; on giving opportunities to those less fortunate; on giving a voice to the weak, defenseless and exploited by creating communities of support, trust and tolerance where each individual’s autonomy and agency are respected and upheld, instead of spending that money on hate campaigns to insure that gays and lesbians do not get to marry or on political campaigns aimed at controlling what women can do with their bodies.

Sadly, none of that is happening in the Catholic church which still argues that women should not have employment equality; that they should not have access to contraception and abortion; that gay/bi people should not be allowed to marry (which, in the US, denies lots of same-sex partnered people crucial access to partners’ employee-sponsored healthcare, which is a major financial issue); etc.

Colluding with the police to cover up the sex crimes of your priests and blaming allegedly gay priests for the massive cases of pedophilia in your church  – thus equating homosexuality with pedophilia – does not constitute  having done the most you can for victims of childhood abuse as you claim, nor does it constitute “transparency and responsibility” on your part as you also like to claim.

When you condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts your image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring  disease, even though not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.

Calling transgendered people demonic – is cruel, harmful, dangerous and indecent, not to mention explicitly dehumanizing. It is, per the Church’s own position on demons, eliminationist. It is not a recipe for peace.

As long as you marginalize members of the queer community, as long as you uphold discrimination against women, as long as you value fetuses more than the people carrying them by ordering Catholic hospitals to refuse to give life-saving abortions, or refuse to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims; as long as you refuse to allow unmarried same-sex partners to visit one another in the hospital, and as long as you spend millions of your organization’s tax exempt money on hate, then you are, frankly, nothing but a dirtbag – no matter how many speeches you hold fellating the idea of peace in velvet tones neatly wrapped in false humility and empathy.

When you manifestly refuse to advance a complex deconstruction of the reasons for poverty, such as empowering women, it is mendacious to argue that you are saying bold and challenging things and are a purveyor of peace.

Peace is not achieved by treating some people in society – such as women, gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals  – as less than, ultimately dehumanizing them in the process and depriving them of their rights and privileges – as if they were yours to give in the first place. Helping these individuals to be given the same kind of access, rights and opportunities as everyone else, however, are the things that will empower people and promote peace.

Peace is not achieved through heart-warming speeches, lofty metaphors and, most of all, prayer.  Peace requires a lot of hard work and hard decisions, including the elimination of bigotry and “othering” and all the other myriad of things the Chruch does that are diametrically opposed to the concept of peace and are right-out harmful.

Peace requires humility and thus examining and then eliminating the very things that stand in its way.

That Progressives remain fascinated with you is mystifying as it is  beyond the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is an epic failure on their part to truly recognize the evil behind your organization’s seemingly loving, all-inclusive facade.

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The United States Is Bringing Back Metal Coat Hangers and Back-Door Alley Abortions

r-COAT-HANGER-huge

This week, Republican Mississippi State Senator Angela Burks Hill said that Mississippi State Legislature’s passage of a 20-week abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest was “not about a woman’s body. This is about the life of an unborn 20-week-old baby.”

Earlier this year, Republican Virginia State Senator Steve Martin defended his anti-abortion views in a Facebook rant by stating that he does not “expect to be in the room or will do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.” 

This is not about a woman’s body. 

The child’s host. (As if a woman who is carrying this fetus was harboring a parasite)

This pretty much sums up the Republican/Conservative’s view on not only the whole issue of abortion but on women in general. It is not about our bodies and we are just incubators to grow babies in.

originalI cannot imagine anyone viewing the demeaning, dehumanizing  and disgusting manner in which women are referred to and treated like as anything but hatred for women. Hatred and misogyny masked under the auspices of right-to-life.

Republicans don’t even try to hide their bigotry anymore,. On the contrary, they are carrying it like a badge of honor.

And as much as some of them insist that it is about preserving life and sanctity of life blah blah blah, it is painfully obvious that it is actually about control and subjugation of women by reducing them to nothing but incubators, vessels in which fetuses are to be grown while the body of the woman host is state property.

The tragic irony here is that the same person that refers to women as mere hosts could not give an infinitesimal fuck what happens to that parasite child the “host” harbors after it is born as evidenced by callous Republican policies that assume that most human beings are irrelevant and such things as not being entitled to food.

You cannot even make this shit up. If i had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that a lawmaker in this country would actually, seriously refer to women as nothing but hosts to incubate a baby.

And then they call the Taliban fundamentalist and backwards.

This is the shit we are served in the 21st century and four decades after the Supreme Court upheld a woman’s right to choose, namely a man referring to a woman as nothing but a vessel to hold a fetus. That is why pregnant women once again find themselves crossing the border to Mexico and haunting back-alleys in search of medical care.

More abortion restrictions have been enacted from 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade

abortion restrictionForty-five percent of the abortion restrictions enacted over the last three years fall into four categories: targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP), limitations on insurance coverage of abortionbans on abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization (the equivalent of 22 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period) and limitations on medication abortion. States enacted 93 measures in these four categories from 2011 through 2013, compared with 22 during the previous decade.

Texass is a particularly big offender. In 2011, the state had 44 abortion clinics, but more than half of them have since shut down due to new anti-abortion laws. In September, when a state law requiring all abortions to take place in ambulatory surgical centers goes into effect, reproductive rights advocates expect 14 more clinics will have to close, leaving only six facilities to serve the nearly 75,000 women who seek abortions in Texas each year.

The poorest area of Texas, the Rio Grande Valley near the Mexican border, has no remaining abortion clinics. Women who live there have to drive roughly 240 miles to San Antonio for the nearest clinic, but many of them are Mexican immigrants with restrictions on their work visas that prevent them from traveling that far.

In addition, the state has slashed funding for family planning, forcing 76 clinics that offer birth control and other reproductive health services, but do not perform abortions, to shut down.

Every time I perform an abortion, I have to offer the woman the ability to see or hear the heartbeat of her ‘unborn human individual,’ which is what the law states it must be called,” Dr. Kate Davis, whose work in Ohio forces her to navigate several incredibly restrictive anti-abortion laws, told ThinkProgress. “I need to tell her the probability of this pregnancy going to term if she chooses to continue the pregnancy and doesn’t have the abortion. I need to do this both verbally and in writing. From my medical point of view, this is totally unnecessary. But I’m doing it so I don’t get fined, or charged with a misdemeanor or, heaven forbid, a felony.”

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Dan Grossman, vice president of research for Ibis Reproductive Health, an international nonprofit, who is part of a research team that is currently studying the effects of the new abortion laws and family planning cuts in Texas, said he is already witnessing the consequences of the new restrictions.

It seems like [women] are becoming more desperate to find an option,” he said. “We’ve heard reports of women taking herbs or other substances, or intentionally getting punched in the stomach or beaten up — the same kinds of things they did before abortion was legal.”

Anti Abortion Harassment

Over the past few years, abortion opponents have been working around the clock to make it too difficult for doctors to provide abortion care by enacting dozens of complicated state-level restrictions that dictate how these services may be performed. Once state legislatures pass tighter restrictions, anti-choice activists can start filing complaints alleging clinics are breaking the new law and endangering their patients. Sometimes they’ll conduct undercover “stings” — posing as a minor trying to get an abortion without telling her parents, or pretending to be a woman forced to have an abortion against her will — in an attempt to catch the clinic staff making a wrong move.

Ultimately, they’re hoping to trigger the state’s agencies to step in and conduct surprise inspections, which, in turn, are expensive and time-consuming for clinic staff who have to spend a substantial amount of their time and efforts refuting these false claims.

In Texass, new state law is forcing dozens of abortion providers out of work because they can’t comply with a regulation that requires them to obtain admitting privileges, which is essentially a superfluous partnership with a local hospital. It’s hard enough to get these admitting privileges as it is, and many doctors are unsuccessful. But becoming a target of local anti-choice groups can make it even worse. That can lead certain hospitals to refuse to work with you.

In Ohio, another state with some of the harshest abortion laws on the books, Dr. Kate Davis is similarly wary to elevate her profile. She decided not to publicly identify herself because Ohio Right To Life, the most prominent anti-abortion group in her state, already knows who she is. Her name is on their website; they send letters to her home. “They’re praying for me. I get Christmas cards. Stuff like that,” she said.

Dr. Davis is well aware of the vast ripple effects of being targeted by the country’s network of anti-choice groups. Protesters will often try to get abortion doctors evicted from their clinics, either by pressuring their landlords or by lobbying to rezone the local area. They’ll implore other medical professionals to refuse to work with the doctors who provide abortion care. And they’ll direct their attention to the hospitals where abortion doctors work, flooding the institutions with phone calls and letters. Davis doesn’t want to invite those type of “shenanigans,” as she calls them.

They can do whatever they want to do to me. But I don’t want other people who didn’t choose to do this work to have to deal with this,” Davis said.

Over the last 30 or 40 years since Roe, the different ways that abortion opponents attack safe abortion care have really changed over time,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO of Texas’ largest independent abortion provider, Whole Woman’s Health, told ThinkProgress. “In the 1980s and 1990s, there were a lot of clinic blockades and bombings. Then they started specifically targeting physicians — there were a lot of murders. Now, you’ve seen a change in the approach. We have this new front of anti-abortion harassment through the legislature and through the court system.”

Anti-abortion activism, which really is a war on agency, has become a truly systemic endeavor. It is no longer just a few outliers picketing abortion clinics. The new movement has been working hard to systematically eradicate access to safe abortions for women in this country.

Legislation enacting abortion bans, restrictions on abortion providers, limitations on the provisions of medication and restrictions on coverage for abortion in private health plans accounted for 56% of all restrictions enacted in 2013 alone.

States also adopted a wide range of other major abortion restrictions in 2013, including those on parental involvementpublic funding for abortionwaiting periods and counseling, and ultrasound

Targeting state legislators to pass ever more stringent laws curbing access to safe abortions is just the beginning. To further complicate matters, there is also a growing lack of available doctors.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has warned that “the availability of abortion services is in jeopardy” because only about 14 percent of doctors actually know how to perform one.

Many doctors don’t learn enough about abortion care while they’re in medical school — a 2009 study found that athird of medical schools don’t talk about elective abortion at all during the first two pre-clinical years. And as an increasing number of abortion clinics are being forced to close, and as hospitals have eliminated abortion from the services they provide, students in residency are losing out on opportunities to train. For instance, the doctors training in one of the 600 Catholic-affiliated hospitals across the country are barred from doing abortions. Even if new doctors do enter the field with the knowledge and the desire to practice abortion care, it’s often difficult for them to find a jobthat allows them to do that work.

It is important to realize that abortion restrictions that gnaw away at a woman’s access to safe abortions will not result in less unwanted pregnancies. In fact, unwanted pregnancies will still be ended. However, now that legal venues have been, and continue to be slashed away, many women just have to, literally, go seek backdoor-alley abortions that are not safe and which will result in illness or death. In other words, all this so-called pro-life movement does is grossly endanger the lives of women and they do so because hey, after all, she is merely the host.

That the anti-abortion movement calls itself pro-life would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic and just right-out callously untrue.

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Things To Regulate

Nothing gets a Conservative’s juices flowing harder than government regulation and a social safety net. The anti-Christ himself could not have been a worse nemesis than regulation. Not being able to subjugate, abuse, pollute, steal or else abuse people and the environment at will cuts into profits, so naturally greedy, church-going, amoral Conservatives cannot have that.

But a woman’s uterus? Yes, that needs to be regulated. Regulate it long, regulate it hard, regulate it deep. In fact, for Conservatives, the words “regulate” and “women” go together like a wink and a smile. Or maybe like an ultrasound and a vagina?

Do you have binders full of women that need regulating? Then you will be hard pressed to not find a Conservative who is more than willing to step in and regulate them for you. Conservatives will not vote for such things as, oh I don’t know,  free daycare offered by the government so that mothers can work and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they will vote for the government forcing women to have as many children as possible.

They will not vote for stricter regulation of air and water pollutants but they will make sure that a lot of children are born to parents who live in areas with some of the nation;’s worst air and water pollution.

See how being pro-life works?

Yeah, duplicity is a highly traded Conservative value with institutions couched in colorful myths and ardent sentiment to conceal bigotry, intolerance, greed and misogyny.

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Religion Is Harmful

atheists are so mean

Religion is harmful. I cannot repeat this enough and I am going to continue repeating it a hundred million more times: religion is harmful.

Religious people, especially in this country, always piss and moan about how unfair everyone is to them. That their god, and Jesus, and Bible and Cross and Guns and Christmas and overall “right” to shit on people as they feel they are entitled to, are all under so much assault by them evil, gawd-less atheists, homosexuals and Liberals.

The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying but religious people continue playing the victim card, branding critics as intolerant, militant and haters.

Criticizing religion and speaking up against the religious powers (and lobbyists) that be is often futile and is generally considered bad form. “Ohhh, don’t criticize the religious person and their faith, you hurt their feelings“. “Oh no, you cannot say that to them, it is rude.” “Just be careful to not hurt their feelings – oh no.”

You should respect people’s beliefs“, I am always told. “It is not polite to criticize someone’s faith“, a guest once said to Bill Maher, trying to shame Maher who was, rightfully so, speaking out against the massive amount of ignorance and hatred religion spreads and purports, into not “criticizing” people for their faith. Often you are dismissed as being miserable, unhappy, bitter, picky…you name it.

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My own co-worker who considers himself a man of god has an irrational disdain for gay people and has, on many occasions, referred to them as “faggots”. Yet when I even make the mention of religion, I am admonished and asked to “not start again.” He can go on and on about how terrible atheists and gays are trying to “impose” their lack of religiosity and homosexuality, respectively, onto others, and he makes sure anyone who may be interested finds out just how critical he is of atheists because they are “so extreme”  but if anyone mentions the widely-spread religious bigotry in this country, including his homophobia, he feels offended and under attack, playing the wrongfully vilified victim.

Then there is the  often-used bad-apple analogy: “I am religious but my group/church/denomination is totally not like that. The problem is not religion, it is just those religious extremists that are the exception/a small minority“. You will be hard pressed to find a religious person who does not employ the “oh yeah them, not me” trope. Only that even so-called moderates subscribe to unfounded and harmful beliefs that they then want to impose on others in the form of legislation.

Case in point, the theocratic government of Arizona, a state whose legislature is infested by religion and religious ideology to such a degree that the long list of measures and laws the state has enacted resemble more something the Ayatollahs in Iran might agree with than legislation one would expect to find in the constitution of a state of the United States.

The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP),  a conservative Christian advocacy organization, is responsible for having backed and co-drafted 123 laws and measures since the group’s 1995 establishment, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod.

Just this month, measure SB 1062 was signed into law — a measure that would have allowed business owners to reject services to any individual on religious grounds, effectively discriminating against the LGBT community. While that measure was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R),  on Thursday, the state House passed another controversial measure: the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” (I love it how they try to drown the harmful legislation they just drafted in euphemisms) or HB 2884 which seeks to permit surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant.

Despite the national outcry and bipartisan opposition to the group’s most recent legislative affront on LGBT rights, a number of CAP’s controversial bills continue to make their way through the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature. Here are four more such similar legislation pushed entirlye by the state’s religious activist groups, seriously bringing into question religious peoples’ claims that their beliefs are  “merely private” and do not hurt anyone:

HB 2565: Criminalizing assisted suicide
Passed the House, referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Although Arizona already has a law banning assisted suicide, HB 2565 seeks to expand the definition of manslaughter to include “offering or providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge” that the individual intends to end his or her life.

HB 2284: “Women’s Health Protection Act”
Passed the House, headed to the Senate.

House Bill 2284 would allow unannounced government inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. The legislation also seeks to make it a class 1 misdemeanor to help “a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements” to obtain an abortion. Furthermore, the bill would require abortion clinics to submit an extensive report of each abortion performed at the facility, including “what steps are taken to save that child’s life.”

SB 1048: Corporate scholarship tax credit
Passed the Senate, passed the House Ways & Means Committee. Referred to the House Rules Committee.

By expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, SB 1048 would permit small businesses organized as S corporations to claim tax credits for contributions to “school tuition organizations” — tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that allocate the majority of their annual revenue to scholarships or grants for private schools. Opponents of the bill argue that it would divert funding from public school districts.

HB 2281: Property tax exemption for religious institutions
Passed the House, transmitted to the Senate.

House Bill 2281 would exempt nonprofit religious assemblies, as well as institutions leasing “property, buildings and fixtures,” from paying property taxes. A similar CAP-backed effort was vetoed by Brewer in 2013.

Here are 13 of the 123 CAP-supported bills that have been signed into Arizona law:

    • Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, strengthening informed consent requirements and requiring FDA compliance for medication abortions (2012). The 20-week ban was later ruled unconstitutional.
    • Exempting religiously-affiliated employers from being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or contraception (2012). Viagra is ok, though.
    • Ensuring that arts funding is not spent on obscenity or material that disgraces the flags of Arizona or the United States (2012).
    • Requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, banning telemedicine abortions and “improving” safety standards for abortion clinics, also known as meddling in. (2011).
    • Ending taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for government employees’ abortions (2010).
    • Banning partial-birth abortion (2009).
    • The Abortion Consent Act: requiring informed consent, enhancing parental consent and expanding rights of conscience protections for healthcare workers (2009). Also known as shaming and manipulating a woman into carrying to term a pregnancy she does not want and overall making access to abortion as hard as possible for women.
    • Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the Arizona Constitution (2008). This bill was advanced through a ballot initiative.
    • Funding community-based marriage classes (2007).
    • Funding for abstinence-until-marriage education (2005, 2006 and 2007). In 2008, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) rejected federal Title V abstinence-until-marriage funding.
    • Banning taxpayer funding of human cloning (2005).
    • Providing equal access for religious groups to rental of school facilities (2003).
    • Prohibiting physicians’ assistants from performing surgical abortions (2002).

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Religion a private matter?

Religion does not hurt anyone?

One should not criticize religion?

I beg to differ and the facts about the harm of religion stand for themselves.

Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card not realizing that their “right” to religion ends when someone else’s rights are being trampled upon by that religion.

The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not  free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.

Why do religious and non-religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion?

It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them. It is utterly absurd.

For far too long, religious people have put intellectuals and rational people on the defense forcing them to, time and again, guard against and explain themselves to these delusional fools.

It was about time, however, that religious people started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry, their hatred, their ignorance. No one should have to politely nod when religious people and their actions hurt people in a very real way while taking humanity down a dangerous path.

Religion is harmful.

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The NRA Blames Everyone But Guns: Sandy Hook Press Conference

National Rifle Association Holds News Conference In Wake Of Newtown School Shooting

The NRA’s response to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary – and any other mass shooting in the country for that matter – has been one of massive scapegoating: women, teachers, video games, the entertainment industry, hurricanes, terrorists, the doorman at the school, and the mentally ill. Everyone and everything but guns, gun owners and gun lobbyists who have spent years easing gun regulationsmor across the country making it possible to obtain guns easier than a car — were responsible.

More specifically, The National Rifle Association, which is the nation’s largest gun advocates lobby, attributed the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to “school free zones,” arguing that “genuine monsters” (other than the proponents of gun ownership galore that is) are attracted to schools because its administrators and teachers are not armed.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA low life and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said.  He urged Congress to “act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.” La Pierre shoveled out blame far and wide, going after reporters for glorifying killers like Adam Lanza, violent movies, video games, and music videos. He tore into gun safety advocates for exploiting the tragedy for “political gain,” targeted President Obama for underfunding police initiatives in schools, and said that the media demonized “local gun owners” and spread “misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next violence is a new cycle away.” “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization,” he said.

Now it is the fault of law abiding citizens who don’t sleep with assault rifles under their pillows that this happened?  Clearly, according  to the NRA,  they asked for it since not owning a gun is an invitation to being gunned down and shot in places you ought to feel safe. This is the same garbage rhetoric used in rape culture where the victims become the  accused and are told that having behaved or dressed in certain ways provoked and justified,  or at the least made it “understandable”,  why they were assaulted and raped. That is a very disconcerting position to take as it is incredibly manipulative, twisting the victim/perpetrator position around, thus indirectly assign blame to victims for the atrocities committed against them rather than trying to find ways to minimize such atrocities and violence and thus really change anything about the status quo.

Scapegoat and Round up the Mentally Ill While We’re At It 

La Pierre also called for the nation to create an “active national database of the mentally ill”, a brilliant idea that not only will not violate any privacy laws (HIPAA), it will also most definitely not lead to further stigmatization and marginalization of  people with psychological disabilities  – whom he apparently lumps in together with violent criminals – and discourage care-seeking, diagnosis, and treatment.

I don’t even know where to begin. Twenty families are burying their children in this holiday season, children who will never experience life and all its wonders, not to mention the psychological trauma the parents and families of those children will experience for the rest of their lives because of the actions of a criminal with easy access to weapons of mass murder, and all the NRA can come up with is basically blaming the victims and their parents for the outcome? Citing hurricanes and  the media and Hollywood and the lack of tools of murder?

La Pierre and his supporters are nothing but disgusting, contemptible, frightened, small-minded fear mongers who are placing the alleged rights of a bunch of people to own tools of murder and mass murder above the life and safety of people.

There is just something indescribably vile about a proponent of unregulated access to guns. This was an opportunity for the NRA to grow, to advocate responsbile gun ownership and regulations like, for example, creating a national database of gun owners and requiring gun registration and other institutional controls similar to car ownership and operation. Instead, all they could come up with was shameless scapegoating, deflecting of responsibility and advocating the discrimination of vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, who are, frankly, more likely to be victimized by violence than to perpetrate it.

Mental Illness Does NOT Equal Violent Behavior

The final straw, of course, was calling for a national database of the mentally ill. Not a national database of gun owners, but of the mentally ill.

Ok Heinrich Himmler.

What will be next? Round them all up into so called sanctuary districts, for their own protection of course, or make them wear some kind of a plaque on their garments so they can be easily identified?

What is outrageous is that not only mental illness is being equated with violent, criminal behavior but that all people with mental illnesses – which covers a broad spectrum of disabilities, most of which are not violent – are being lumped together as this one entity society must be aware and scared of.  The reality is that there are millions of people suffering from mental illness who would never engage in such a vile, inhumane act of mass murdering children.

Someone who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, after, hmmm.., let’s say having been a victim of violence with guns, or a school shooting, is technically considered as suffering from a mental illness. Someone suffering from depression and anxiety taking medication is considered an individual suffering from a mental disability; a person suffering from severe anxiety is considered mentally ill. To lump these people together with violent criminals – who may or may not be mentally ill, – becasue remember, not all people with mental illness are dangerous, and not all killers are mentally ill, meeting standards of psychiatric diagnosis – is as low as it can get and the height of irresponsibility and inhumanity.

NRA poll

La Pierre played quite expertedly into the irrational fears and scapegoating mentality of the minuscule minded gun wielding,  Jesus and cross hugging citizens of this nation by making references to those evil “killers, robbers, rapists, gang members” who have  “spread like cancer in every community across our nation” and from whom we need to protect ourselves by owning an arsenal of assault weapons and other tools for mass murder.  

The truth, of course, is that the only cancer having spread through society is the policies the likes of La Pierre and his organization of unregulated gun ownership advocates and the mindless tools that follow them advocate, believing that the answer to the problems of crime – or any problem for that matter in society – is arming every man, woman and child with all sorts of weaponry and sending them off into the world, as if guns – instruments aimed to kill – make us safer.

Imagine the principal of Sandy Hook had been armed with an assault rifle and after the first shot was fired and people were running around in panic  she had jetted out of her office with an AR 15 shooting into a crowd of children running in panic. According to the NRA, that would have been the solution, which, of course, is another comforting lie.

Living in a society with ordinary citizens armed to the teeth like guerrilla fighters, taking justice into their own hands, like George Zimmerman, and shooting into a crowd with moving targets, does not make us safer. This Dirty Harry and John Wayne mentality is only good for when the zombie apocalypse or another end-of-world scenario – mostly to be found in science fiction – is upon us. It is not the route rational people in a civilized society held together by the rule of law and the Constitution they allegedly trust in,  ought to embark on. We do not want to send our kids to school with the likes of George Zimmerman prowling the halls.

NRA’s Response to the Carnage at Sandy Hook At a Glance: 

1) Create a police state – TSA style security at every corner. A George Zimmerman in every neighborhood. I mean, we are all totally grateful that he protected us from the evils of a 17 year old child holding candy and we clearly need more of that.

2) Arm every man, woman and child with assault rifles like they were Snake Plissken. The more guns and tools of mass murder lie around, the safer we all will be since human beings are totally not prone to irrationality and rage over something like someone cutting them off on the freeway or giving them the wrong look at the grocery store etc.

3) Scapegoat everyone and everything for this: Women, pacifists, the mentally ill, video games and movies, entertainment industry, the doorman at the school…everyone but gun owners and the gun – a tool solely designed to take lives, nothing else. Apparently the gun is a very misunderstood tool for murder.

Great America. Moving towards a plutocratic police state one gun wielding,  Jesus chest-thumping, fear mongering, bigoted patriot at a time.

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War on Women: Pakistani Acid Victim Commits Suicide

This is just beyond sad. Being a woman has never sucked more.

Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus, who was attacked by her husband, an ex-lawmaker and son of a political powerhouse, and permanently disfigured undergoing more than three dozen surgeries over a decade, finally decided that she no longer had anything to live for and committed suicide on March 17. She reportedly jumped from the sixth floor of a building in Rome, where she had been living and receiving treatment.

As is to be expected, her ex husband Bilal Khar was acquitted on all charges.

Pakistan, a male dominated society in which women are apparently less than second class citizens and human beings, is notorious for such atrocities against women.  According to the  The Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organization, more than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011 and these numbers are suspected to be an undercount because the group relies mostly on media reports.

Fakhra Younus was only 22 when her husband of three years, Bilal Khar, a member of Pakistan’s politically elite Khar family, threw acid on her face when she was sleeping in her own home.  Younus was a teenage dancing girl working in the red light district of the southern city of Karachi when she met Khar. The unusual pairing was the younger Khar’s third marriage. He was in his mid-30s at the time.

The couple was married for three years, but Younus eventually left him because he allegedly physically and verbally abused her. She claimed that he came to her mother’s house while she was sleeping in May 2000 and poured acid all over her in the presence of her 5-year-old son from a different man.

Tehmina Durrani, Ghulam Mustafa Khar’s ex-wife and his son’s stepmother, became an advocate for Younus after the attack, drawing international attention to the case. She said that Younus’ injuries were the worst she had ever seen on an acid attack victim.

“So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn’t breathe,” said Durrani, who wrote a book about her own allegedly abusive relationship with the elder Khar. “We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together.”

She said Younus, whose life had always been hard, became a liability to her family, for whom she was once a source of income.

“Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed,” Durrani wrote in a column in The News after Younus’ suicide.

The Washington Post noted that Yunus became the face of violence against women in the country after Pakistani activist Tehmina Durrani, author of “My Feudal Lord,” helped Yunus escape to Rome and get treatment for her disfigurement. Durrani is known to speak out against the injustices women face in Muslim society. Over the years, Yunus underwent 38 facial reconstructive and plastic surgeries after the attack.

Durrani wrote of Yunus in The News Daily, “I have met many acid victims. Never have I seen one as completely disfigured as Fakhra. She had not just become faceless; her body had also melted to the bone. Despite her stark and hopeless condition, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not in the least God-fearing. She was provided nothing…but disdain…and trashed.”

Acid attacks are prevalent in certain parts of Asia. According to the New York Times’ Nicholas D. Kristof, who reported  in 2008  that attacks were then at an all-time high in Pakistan, they are often the work of husbands who attack their wives as a form of revenge for refusing sexual advances or other proposals.

Yunus’ body was buried Sunday, according to News Daily, which also reported that she left a written message saying that she was committing suicide because of the silence and atrocities committed by Pakistani leaders.

Women Under Assault

It is one thing to be oppressed something like 500 years ago but to still endure such things in 2012 is beyond comprehension and worse actually than what happened 500 or 200 or 100 years ago, because back then we as human kind didn’t know better, but now we do.

Yet women are still treated like second class citizens and human beings. Pakistan is one extreme of the spectrum, where women are regularly physically assaulted and disfigured and spit on, with no rights whatsoever, but make no mistake about it that woman are under attack, physically or emotionally, directly or indirectly, even in so-called enlightened western cultures and countires. The Planned Parenthood debates of late, as well as the issues surrounding women’s reproductive rights, including legislated vaginal ultrasound probing of women who want to get an abortion, are just a few examples to the point. Violence and injustice come in man y forms. Don’t think for one second that simply because you are spared from acid attacks, you – as a woman – are not under attack in the U.S.

I do not, by any means, want to trivialize Fakhra’s horrible situation. Getting vaginally probed, paid less salary and just generally treated like a liability is nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to what she had to endure.  The point I am trying to make, however, is that all womanhood in general has become a liability and is under attack. This is all part of the same problem.

I was just reading an article in the Marie Claire that women, over the course of their lifetime, pay more than a man for everything from dry cleaning to deodorant, mortgage rates and cars. Even health insurance premiums. A 25 year old women who doesn’t smoke pays more than a 25 year old male who does smoke. And this is in our own country. As the article states, despite the civil rights laws prohibiting job and housing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, there’s no federal law banning discrimination in the sale of goods and services, so women – naturally – get the shit end of the stick.

California, which in 1996 became the first state to ban gender pricing, found that women paid about $1,351 annually in extra costs and fees. Apply that figure to the rest of the women in the country and the total burden is staggering — roughly $151 billion in markups, more than what the federal government spent on education last year and greater than the budgets of 43 states.

Discrimination is actually costing us money. The startling thing is – as professor John Banzhaf of the George Washington University Law School pointed out – that “Even though it’s well recognized, people sit back and go, ‘Well, that’s just the way it is.’  Gender pricing is standard industry practice and they get away with it, because no one says anything. Men sure are not going to object and as long as woman adhere to the doormat “well it is just how it is” mentality, nothing will change.

The far reaching, long term consequences of such forms of discrimination that have been firmly institutionalized and engraved in our society, its practices and even our minds, is the general undermining of women in all aspects of life and society, not to mention that such practices become a habit so ingrained that no one even stops to think to question them. We only go after the low hanging fruit, the truly blatant and obvious forms of discrimination, such as sexual harassment at the work place or getting fired for being pregnant. But we are not going after the not-so obvious ones. Gender pricing is just the beginning – the seedling. You leave it untouched, that seedling will grow into the most atrocious monster Miss Fakhra Younus had the misfortune of meeting.

Yeah, being a woman never sucked more and it doesn’t look like it is going to change anytime soon.

Human kind is a failed experiment, that’s for sure

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