Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Catholic Bishops Enact Plan For “300,000 Terri Schiavos”

For fuck's sake, people.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops released an "Ethical and Religious Directive" this month that would ban any Catholic hospital, nursing home or hospice program from removing feeding tubes or ending palliative procedures of any kind, even when the individual has an advance directive to guide their end-of-life care. The Bishops' directive even notes that patient suffering is redemptive and brings the individual closer to Christ. (...)

A 60Minutes piece this weekend looked at the cost of dying in America, showing that Medicare paid $50 billion in the last two months of patients' lives in 2008. Compassion & Choices focuses on the suffering at the end of life, not federal dollars, but they agree in general with the portrait shown by 60 Minutes. Incredibly, suffering is one of the selling points in the Catholic Bishops' directive. "It's quite specific about the role of suffering in Christian dogma," Coombs Lee explained. "It says that suffering is redemptive, that it's part of Christ's passion. So they are pretty clear on their concern for the suffering of the patient."
I don't need to say any of the things I'm thinking. You already know what they are.

(ht unusualmusic for this gem)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Surprising? No.

File this under "why I hear someone identifying as Christian and don't immediately think great things of them."

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill under consideration in Uganda was sparked by a conference in Kampala earlier this year at which fundamentalist Christians from the U.S. identified homosexuality as a threat to "family values".

The draconian law will institute the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" and criminalize human rights work.

Yeah. Tell me "not all Christians are like that" all you like, but you can't deny that there are Christians like that, and you can't deny that their Biblical justifications are no less valid than the ones used by people we like.

They may not be all Christians, but they're still real Christians, and they are why I don't trust people who identify as followers of the same religion. And, while I'm at it, this is why I don't trust Conservatives, either. You identify as a member of a group that does this, expect to be mistrusted by the people your fellow adherents wish were dead.

Just expect it. And if all you can do is complain about how this hurts your feelings, you can go fuck yourself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Being pathetic doesn't mean you're not also a rapist.

This post is dedicated to someone that I removed from my LJ friends list because he alluded to bringing home drunk girls as a symptom of his own loneliness and the bleakness of his romantic life.

Rapists Who Don't Think They're Rapists (Or, as I would subtitle it: Why women are right not to trust men. Even friends.)

Thomas looks at a study of 1882 college students who were asked four questions to determine if they had ever raped (or attempted to rape) anyone:
1) Have you ever attempted unsuccessfully to have intercourse with an adult by force or threat of force?
2) Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone who did not want you to because they were too intoxicated to resist?
3) Have you ever had intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?
4) Have you ever had oral intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?
Questions like these are bound to lead to underreporting—what guy is going to admit to forcing a girl to give him head? As it turns out, a lot of guys will admit to this, 120 to be exact: That’s six percent of the survey’s respondents who copped to either rape or attempted rape.
An excellent comment directed at men was made in Thomas MacAulay Millar's entry (linked in the above article) Meet the Predators.
I’m directing this to men who inhabit het-identified social spaces, and I’m not really limiting it more than that. Women are already doing what they can to prevent rape; brokering a peace with the fear is part of their lives that we can never fully understand. We’re the ones who are not doing our jobs.

Here’s what we need to do. We need to spot the rapists, and we need to shut down the social structures that give them a license to operate. They are in the population, among us. They have an average of six victims, women that they know, and therefore likely some women you know. They use force sometimes, but mostly they use intoxicants. They don’t accidentally end up in a room with a woman too drunk or high to consent or resist; they plan on getting there and that’s where they end up.

Listen. The women you know will tell you when the men they thought they could trust assaulted them; if and only if they know you won’t stonewall, deny, blame or judge. Let them tell you that they got drunk, and woke up with your buddy on top of them. Listen. Don’t defend that guy. That guy is more likely than not a recidivist. He has probably done it before. He will probably do it again.

Change the culture. To rape again and again, these men need silence. They need to know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims. The women in your life need to be able to talk frankly about sexual assault. They need to be able to tell you, and they need to know that they can tell you, and not be stonewalled, denied, blamed or judged.

Listen. The men in your lives will tell you what they do. As long as the R word doesn’t get attached, rapists do self-report. The guy who says he sees a woman too drunk to know where she is as an opportunity is not joking. He’s telling you how he sees it. (...)

We are not going to pull six or ten or twelve million men out of the U.S. population over any short period, so if we are going to put a dent in the prevalence of rape, we need to change the environment that the rapist operates in. Choose not to be part of a rape-supportive environment. Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours.
I repeat: This post is dedicated to someone that I removed from my LJ friends list because he alluded to bringing home drunk girls as a symptom of his own loneliness and the bleakness of his romantic life.
I would chat them up, desperately trying to come across as smooth and attractive, and if they were drunk enough, maybe I might get a kind word or a kiss for my efforts. On the extremely rare events that I would bring one home, it was meaningless physical copulation, followed by hours and days of emotional hand-wringing. More often, I would spend all my money and energy in a fruitless attempt to have some sort of human contact, and at the end of the night I would still come home alone. It was a waste of time.
Because the period in his life in which rape was the only way he could get laid was so terrible for him. The consciousness that he was (and likely always will be) a rapist who doesn't see himself that way made me uncomfortable enough that I couldn't read his LJ about anything else, but... not uncomfortable enough to comment and tell him that he raped those women. I knew it would cause drama to use the "R word," and that made me a coward.

To you. I'm sorry to all the women whose rapes caused you such hand-wringing that I helped create the environment of silence that you operate in. I don't care if you or your friends get pissed at me for flaming or causing drama by mentioning this in a public entry. I don't care if you're uncomfortable that the fact that you're a rapist makes me uncomfortable. Anybody whose immediate reaction is to defend this should be fucking ashamed of themselves, and should comment only to let me know that I need to defriend them (if I haven't already).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Evolutionary Psychology BINGO

Hat tip to ievil_spock_47i for posting this amazing Evolutionary Psychology Bingo Card.

This post is dedicated to the guy who told me it is his unavoidable essential nature as a man to sexually harass younger women, and thinks I just ought to understand that and not sweat it. This is one of the things that women and social scientists laugh at because it's the only way not to cry.

If it wouldn't be needlessly antagonistic, I would print a copy of this and bring it with me next time I had to talk to that person. (Actually, that probably wouldn't stop me. The likelihood of me remembering in time to do this hilarious and awesome thing is low enough that it'd get in the way far more often than my essential grace and gentleness would.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

- Galatians 5:13-14

Compare and contrast with the strongly-Christian Conservative movement.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled rational universe. Enjoy the fantasy while you can, if you're still living it.

But yes. Religion is more than Scripture. Religion is culture as well. If it weren't, Americans would have socialized medicine already, and it would be thanks to God-fearing compassionate Christians.

(And yes, if there were enough Christians on board with caring for their siblings in humanity, it would get done. Yes, it would. Don't tell me Christians don't have the power to get good shit done when they actually give a damn. I credit American Christianity with the abolition of slavery, for example. When they care about you, you're fine. When they don't, you know it. What has Christianity done for you lately?)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And here we are, after all this time.

I'm finally getting to the point where enough horrible shit has been done by Christian-identified groups in this country that I'm beginning to reflexively distrust them. Yes, I fully understand as well as any amateur theologian that Christianity is a religion capable of affirming the intrinsic value of human beings, and empowering oppressed people to protect themselves and the people they love.

But if you think that's what it generally does in America, you're living in a fantasy that I'd pay good money to enjoy again.

The Catholic Church spent half a million dollars lobbying against equal rights for LGBT residents of Maine. Never mind that whole "tax-exempt status means not lobbying" dealie. Never mind that whole "separation of church and state as a protection for both of them" bit. Never mind any of that horseshit in the Bible about service to one's fellow man and whatever is done to the least of us being done to Jesus.

No, let's just spend all our money keeping people down. It's what Jesus wants! And you know what? Jesus isn't here to speak for himself. The only voice we have for what Jesus wants--especially if you don't accept the whole "reanimated savior" narrative as unexaggerated fact--is this.

And no, you can't tell me those people "aren't real Christians," because you don't get to decide that. Certainly not if your religious leaders disagree with you.

What asking to be granted a disassociation from Christianity's spectrum and history that includes ugly things does on a practical level is expect marginalized people to pretend that none of the bad things that have been done to them in the name of Christianity have anything to do with actual Christians. (...)

Frankly, it's hurtful to me when Christians address what happened to me by saying, "Those aren't real Christians," expecting me to salve their discomfort about the baggage of privilege by not disagreeing. People who would never in a million years think to try to console a victim of a hate crime with "All [white/straight/cis/abled] people aren't like that!" nonetheless responded that way to me when I was targeted and threatened by droves of self-identified Christians.

I already know that all Christians aren't like that—and everyone who said it to me knew I was well aware of that fact. But in the wake of large members of a certain segment of Christianity attacking me, most of the Christians I knew felt obliged first and foremost to distance themselves from the group that hurt me, and do it in a way that protected their idea of Christianity, that reasserted their privilege—a privilege that is shared by the very people who attacked me, solely by virtue of their calling themselves Christians.

And they expected me to be comforted by it.

Christianity in this country strongly acts as a force for hate. Mad props to Christians who fight that, but if we're going to look at religion as a cultural system instead of simply a collection of ancient teachings, American Christianity is a cultural system that has become ugly as shit. I can't understand people who continue to identify with it.

I'm done saying that this isn't real Christianity. I'm done saying that this isn't what Jesus really wants. I'm done saying that "real" Christianity is so much more beautiful and loving and helpful to us all. Ideal Christianity (to me) is all of those things. It even exists, in small pockets. But I'm tired of letting an entire cultural system be represented by the single sliver that matches my ideology, even if it means seeing them more charitably.

Yes, this is a rant. I'm not being particularly considerate right now. I'm not protecting the feelings of Christians on my friends list right now. And right now I don't give a damn. I'm tired of hearing "not all Christians are like that!" I'm tired of hearing, "I may be Catholic/Mormon/whatever, but my church's leadership doesn't reflect my beliefs or speak for me."

I'm tired of people who disagree with what Christian groups are doing in this country coming along and responding to me with excuses, responding to the damage Christians are causing by doing their PR cleanup for them.

Canvassing after dark.

Most people are happy to talk to me about the work CAC is doing right now, and that's awesome. But every now and again I get one of those people who walks around with a huge chubby because they're on the neighborhood association board for their shitty subdivision, and they tell me--quite certain in their status as a Big Deal Locally--that their town doesn't allow soliciting and that I shouldn't be out after dark because my presence is frightening and unwanted.

I ignore these people, because they're usually saying this at around seven or eight in the evening when I've already raised almost a hundred dollars from their neighbors whom they claim are so terrified of the little woman wielding a clipboard. But now and again they'll do what this bitch did.

She called all her neighbors, or at least phone-treed enough of them to cockblock me on the next several houses. She told me when she saw me that she'd informed her neighbors not to answer the door when I knocked, and in fact to call the local police department if I did so. Well, I talked to the cop who was out looking for me.

He said I was doing good work. I sympathized with him that he got called out over someone that his department already knows is working in the area, and we told each other to keep warm out there.

But seriously. Here are several things to remember if a canvasser knocks on your door.

1. I'm allowed to be there. No, really, I am. No little city ordinance against soliciting trumps CAC's right (and, frankly, your neighbors' rights) to free assembly and free speech. I'm out organizing, not selling thousand-dollar vacuum-cleaners. Nothing you can do to remove me from your street is legal, just your sidewalk and your lawn.

2. Your neighbors want me to be there. No, really. If I'm out canvassing, it's because we tend to hit our nightly quota in your neighborhood. Yes! Yours! Even with all those frightened old ladies and jumpy overprotective fathers, odds are your neighbors are much smarter than you are. Lucky thing for you, too, because their attention and contributions are serving you as well, whether you want to think about that or not.

3. If it's dark out and you think it's not safe for me to be outside, then you should invite me in, you asshole. If you're not worried enough about my safety in your neighborhood to call me in where it's warm and light and where there are cups of tea and $36 checks waiting for me, then you're not worried enough about my safety to mention it like you're doing me a favor.

3b. If it's dark and you think I shouldn't be out canvassing because it makes people nervous, congratufuckinglations. You have officially noticed one of the things that makes my job challenging. Are you honestly suggesting I stop early? Then write me a check so I can get done sooner. Oh, what's that? You don't really care if I have a job to do and bills to pay? Then please, by all means, tell me that you don't want to talk to me because I have no choice but to do my job in winter when the sun sets at 5:30. Bonus: congrats, you just made it take longer.

4. Signing shows you agree. Letters and contributions are how we win. Don't look at me all fucking shocked that the citizen-funded non-profit that lobbies and litigates for you is asking for a check. I already mentioned fundraising twice, and when you can find your own lawyer and lobbyist who'll work for you for less than $15 a year, you can tell me that you can't afford to stand up for yourself.

5. Cold beverages and food in summer. Warm beverages and food in winter. These things will make a canvasser happy almost as much as money. So if for some reason you don't have the time or funds to help us help you? Just give me some hot coffee and/or a bathroom break and I'll be on my way, ready to punch your utility company in the nuts in return for your generosity.

6. Holy fucking shit shut your dog up before I put it on a Foreman grill AND EAT IT.

That is all. My job is difficult, yes. Sure. But if it was easy, I wouldn't be doing it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


You've all probably seen the results of Maine's gay marriage vote.

As someone whose right to vote was once a matter for debate, as someone whose right to marry a person of a different race was once a matter for debate, and as someone whose right to marry a woman or a trans man or woman (depending on what specific states have decided trans people "are") is still a matter for debate... I'm so sorry. This hurts us all, and it reflects on us all. And I'm so sorry.

Meanwhile, Washington voters speak out in support of "separate but equal" unions for LGBT and hetero citizens.

The latter one could be worse, obviously, but this is just such heartbreaking shit to watch. I know that we'll get there eventually, but in the meantime... in the meantime LGBT Americans are forced to lead more difficult lives than hetero Americans, and not because they're different than straight people on some fundamental level. It's because we're not the country we like to say we are.

Not yet, at least. We'll get there, but only if we keep fighting. In the meantime, losses hurt. Watching Christians rejoice because they've successfully convinced yet another state that their God hates gay people and therefore so should we? That hurts. Watching my fellow human beings congratulate each other on denying rights to their brothers and sisters? That hurts. And it's happened again.