Gays and Women with Boyfriends Shouldn’t Teach (It Limits Freedom!): The Gospel of Jim DeMint

South Carolina Senator, Jim DeMint, was quoted in the Spartanberg newspaper saying that no one who is openly gay should be teaching in the classroom. And neither should unmarried women who are sleeping with their boyfriends.

Apparently hetero men can sleep with whomever they wish and keep their jobs. Good thing, or a lot of his Congressional colleagues would be out of work.

Then he continued, “(When I said that) no one came to my defense. But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”

Huh?

How does denying jobs to gays and women with boyfriends increase their freedom and limit government intrusion in their lives? How does this increase their freedom of religion?

So whose freedom is he talking about?

DeMint actually wants to limit the freedoms of the less powerful members of society — women and gays — in order to increase the freedom of more powerful members of southern society: conservative Christians who don’t want the burden of interacting with anyone who doesn’t share some of their views.

But these good Christians seem to have forgotten the golden rule. To paraphrase Jesus: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. And what about the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor?

Georgia Platts

October is Gay and Lesbian History Month

 

The Burqa and Individual Rights: It’s Complicated

“Burqa bans” are arising throughout Europe, with France voting their approval this past Tuesday. But many are concerned that the prohibitions limit the individual rights of Muslims.

It’s complicated.

First, the garment itself limits individual rights – women’s. Second, to what extent is the burqa wearer exercising actual choice? Finally, is a ban the best way to go?

Let’s start with the question of women’s choice.

When a society’s way of seeing becomes our own – even when it harms us – the belief is “internalized.” My interest in this phenomenon was sparked by my upbringing. In the early years of the feminist movement women from my church were bused to various conventions to vote down things like equal pay for equal work. I spent afternoons listening to women in my church talk about keeping battered women’s shelters from opening. They were against women receiving priesthood authority, and they were for male leadership in the home.

I didn’t understand why they worked so hard to disempower themselves, their daughters, and other women. But people don’t tend to question the taken-for-granted notions of their culture. It’s simply what you do.  So choice disappears.

The same phenomenon arises in other settings. Saudi women say they don’t want to vote or drive. Many 19th Century American women didn’t want the vote, either. In North Africa women defend the genital mutilations that kill and cripple them.

Burqas limit women’s autonomy and power. Yet some women voluntarily don them, keeping with their culture.

Burqas – or niqabs (face coverings) – prevent wearers from gaining driver’s licenses when they are strictly worn, since identity can’t be confirmed via picture ID. When a city or village lacks public transportation it is hard to get around without a car. That makes it tough to get a job.

Even with transportation it’s not easy finding work in a facemask. The mask seems dehumanizing and eerie, as does the subjugation it represents.

But ethnocentrism is thought weightier than sexism. “Isms” that affect men seem more important than those that affect women – even when women are harmed, as when a female German judge denied a Muslim woman’s appeal for divorce, claiming that being beaten was part of her culture. 

Did women have equal power to create the cultures that harm them?

Some women do resist, but feel pressured, as one of my Muslim students told me when we discussed the matter of covering.

But bans may not be the best way to deal with burqas or niqabs. Bans can backfire since people cling more tightly to their groups when they feel persecuted. As restrictions go into effect more women might actually embrace the burqas that limit them.

A better way may lie in creating conversation so that different cultures can consider a variety of perspectives. I am sure that Westerners and Muslims can learn from each other and our different ways of seeing.

Georgia Platts

Rape Victims Condemned and Dismissed: Then and Now

In 1970 Jerry Plotkin and three others gang raped an acquaintance. Plotkin pleaded not guilty: He was a sexual libertine; he did what he wanted without limits. Through innuendo he implied that his victim was a libertine, too. Proof: she’d had sex without marriage.

The jury acquitted: A woman who’d had sex outside of wedlock could not be raped.

A rape victim condemned, her suffering dismissed.

Turning back 20 years earlier, an article from the 1952-53 Yale Law Journal explained why rape was illegal: “Women’s power to withhold or grant sexual access is an important bargaining weapon… it fosters, and is in turn bolstered by, a masculine pride in the exclusive possession of the sexual object… whose value is enhanced by sole ownership.”

The victim’s pain dismissed.

Discounting rape reaches far into history – at least when women are prey. In the Old Testament (Judges 19:22-29) we find depraved men pounding at the door of a Levite’s home, demanding a male guest be turned out to be raped. The Levite refuses, sending out his virgin daughter and his guest’s concubine, instead:

23 No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.

25: So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. 27 When her master got up in the morning … 28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer.   

No distress arises as the concubine’s “husband” turns her out to be raped or finds her dead. If anyone has been harmed it is him, his property defiled.

If you think we’re past these attitudes, think again.

A lack of compassion continues in the Middle East. Instead of nurturing a victim through her trauma, she faces an honor killing as punishment for the sin of being attacked.  

In today’s India, female rape victims can be subjected to a “finger exam” to see if her hymen is intact, or whether her vagina is “narrow” or “roomy.” A focus on virginity leaves her suffering of no import.

In the U.S., things are better. But problems remain. Helena Lazaro was raped at knifepoint at a car wash. She has spent 13 years trying to get her case properly investigated. But her attacker remains loose while authorities fail to test her rape kit.  Currently, 180,000 rape kits are left untested nationwide, creating more rape victims.

Meanwhile, too many women are blamed for a crime that is committed against them.

Rape victims undergo depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Many become sexually dysfunctional.

Rape is the crime women most fear outside of murder. But you wouldn’t know it by the way victims are ignored and condemned.

Georgia Platts

Source:

Susan Griffin. “Politics: 1971.” The Power of Consciousness. HarperCollins. 1979

Did Women Create Burqa Culture?

The upcoming French vote on the burqa ban has got me thinking. Did women have equal power to create the burqa? And who benefits from this garment?

Some charge that rejecting the burqa comes from fear of the other, or ethnocentrism. I’m in sync with cultural relativism, so long as no one is being hurt. But buqas and “burqa cultures” don’t give women equal power. And women certainly did not have equal sway in creating the customs of these societies.

Think about the laws that exist in places where women are required to cover up in burqas or niqabs (facemasks) or various other veilings.

Is it likely that women decided that men could easily demand a divorce, but women could get one only with difficulty?

Is it likely that women created the notion that sharing a husband with other women might be nice?

Did women create the idea that an adulterous man be punished by burial up to his waist before being stoned, while a woman must be buried to her breasts – and one who escapes, escapes the stoning?

In these cultures, when a woman is raped it is her fault. She obviously let some hair fall from her covering, or she allowed an ankle to show. Everyone knows that no man could resist such things. Did women decide that women, and not men, are responsible for men’s sexuality?

Did women originate the notion that after rape, the victim must be killed to restore the family honor?

Did women clamor for a burqa that limits their power and autonomy – keeping them from driving and getting jobs that are far from home? Did women design this garment that prevents small pleasures like seeing clearly or feeling the sun and the wind?

And who benefits?

Men benefit from easily obtaining a divorce, but not allowing their wives the same privilege. Men benefit from the sexual variety of having many wives, while women are left to share one man. Men benefit by more easily escaping a stoning. And men can rape with impunity since women fear reporting sexual assault, lest their families kill them. Men gain power when women are incapable of getting jobs and income. How much easier is it to beat women for the infraction of straying outside the home, or letting a wrist show, when they are black and blue blobs, and not human beings?

It is common to make accusations of ethnocentrism when one culture rejects the practices of another. Often the fears are valid.

But if a powerful group creates a culture that benefits themselves to the detriment of others, the critique is not about ethnocentrism. It is about human rights.

Georgia Platts

Ways of Seeing: Ravaged or Ravishing?

By Robert Rees

We are bombarded with thousands if not tens of thousands of images every day. Occasionally, two images come into such sharp contrast that they can’t be ignored. Such was the case when I opened the New York Times on Sunday, May 2. On page ten  of that issue is a color photo of a 23 year old Congolese woman. The caption says her lips and right ear have been cut off by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Her shorn head, the blackness of her face, the swollen pink oval around her mouth where her lips had once been (like the exaggerated lips of “Sambo” or minstrel characters once popular in American culture), and the sideway glance of her eyes as someone (perhaps her mother) touches her remaining ear with what seems tenderness. It is an image so heartbreaking as to make one weep.

                                                                             

In Ways of Seeing John Berger says, “The meaning of an image is changed according to what one sees immediately beside it or what comes immediately after it. Such authority as it retains is distributed over the whole context in which it appears.” Thus . . .

Immediately across the page from this photo is a full page Lord & Taylor ad of a beautiful white woman with long flowing dark hair, green eyes, perfect lips and two ears from which dangle long bejeweled earrings. She is arrayed in such opulence—necklace, pendant, bracelets, a giant opaline or turquoise ring, that the contrast with the Congolese woman is shocking. The juxtaposition of the two images is heightened by the fact that the Congolese woman wears a simple hand-crafted red and black blouse whereas the model wears what looks like an expensive hand-knitted ivory-colored chemise over a pink lace skirt. She holds in each hand a knitted handbag (“only $89”), each covered with roses and each holding a small dog, so laden that she seems barely able to hold them up. This cornucopia of luxury, this picture of desire would never be found in the Congo, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The ad’s caption—“We all have our creature comforts. . . Some of us more than others”—is so ironic as to be almost beyond irony. The motto compounds the irony: “Shop more. Guilt less.” 

Again, John Berger, “A woman’s presence expresses her own attitude to herself, and defines what can and cannot be done to her. Her presence is manifest in her gestures, voice, opinions, clothes, chosen surroundings, taste—indeed there is nothing she can do which does not contribute to her presence. . . . To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men.” 

The Congolese woman, like the Greek Princess Philomela whose husband Terus cut out her tongue so she could not reveal that he had raped her, has likewise likely been raped and brutally silenced. The severing of her left ear compounds the violation. She will be so disfigured that probably no man will ever touch her again and no compassionate god will turn her into a nightingale. 

The woman in the Lord and Taylor ad will be ravaged by the eyes of a million men who will yet never touch her skin except in their imaginations. And yet in her wildest imagination this white goddess could never see herself in the place of the black tongueless Congolese woman, nor the Congolese woman ever imagine herself in such a space as the woman in the ad inhabits. 

Both of these images are part of the world we live in, although we tend to keep them in separate compartments of our consciousness. The one is horribly real, the other an unreal arrangement by Madison Avenue designers. On another day when they are not juxtaposed, we might consider each separately, but when they are thrust before us in such stark relief, we can turn from neither–only ponder what they tell us about how some of us have more creature comforts than others and how we can remain “guilt less”—and that we are somehow complicit in both.

 Robert A. Rees teaches at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Why Communitarianism threatens a free society

I have been reading articles by Amitai Etzioni, the professor at George Washington University, who is the director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies.  He founded the Communitarian Network, a non-profit ‘dedicated to the moral, social, and political foundations of society,’ and is the world’s leading proponent of communitarianism.

It doesn’t do you much good to criticize a theory without thorough research into it, so I’m doing my homework.

An article by Etzioni in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs entitled The Common Good and Rights, A Neo-Communitarian Approach (Winter/Spring 2009), is a concise argument for the central tenet of communitarianism: The common good must be a central part of our public morality, and human rights  and liberty must be subsumed into the service of all members of the society.  This is what he calls ‘balancing.’

Etzioni states that where there is no ‘community’ the people are disaffected, lonely, anti-social, alienated, and prone to finding artificial community such as gangs and militias.  Without community, in his view, there are no informal social controls that will serve to enforce the moral code and commitments of the residents. The antidote, he says, is to produce a community that uses censure, or pressure, to control behavior.

Here’s an example of what’s wrong with that concept.

Now, in an open society, such as the one we are now building, a gay person can live freely in many places.  An outsider just 25 years ago (and of course, still, in many places), a gay person is now able to form loving attachments without fear of job loss, loss of children, or shunning by society.  But if you take a look at the ‘community’ of Etzioni’s making, you’re looking at America in the 1950’s.  At a society that can shun you, shame you, reject you, attack you, and claim it’s for the common good.  And they truly believed that.  And many of them were good people.  And still are.  And if you define the common good as producing uniformity, and regulated, wholly expected results, then I suppose homosexuality is not in line with the common good.  But why would you want complete uniformity in your culture?  There is a perceived threat.  Whether it’s valid or not, the group can decide to reject and stigmatize a whole segment of the population.  For the common good.

Now, this is the kind of thing that was done in the name of religious prosecution.  Community morality.  How many have been persecuted or killed because they didn’t have the right religion?  This empowers mob rule.  Enforcement of morals outside of the law is not serving the Constitution of the United States.  Etzioni says that common moral beliefs make a community.  That sounds like a religion. Like environmentalism?  Has ‘green’ been hijacked and transformed to a secular religion?  Is it being used as an excuse and justification for restriction of individual rights?  Etzioni is defining the community as the planet.  The global village.  So, by extension,  just your use of the resources on the planet can endanger it, and make you a threat to the common good.

Your rights have been ‘balanced’ against the rights of the community as determined by some.  Whoever is the most dominant group.  Some group is going to be making these decisions.  How is the good of the community determined?  By the Delphi Technique?

Our constitution guarantees individual rights for a reason.  Because they are the first thing to go when a community takes on the role of the arbiter of behavior.

I do not feel comforted by the idea of community rule.  I have been at the receiving end of community attack.  Abuse.  Cruelty.  Why?  Because I dared to speak out about what was wrong.  Are these the people we want dictating what is for the good of the community?  The only way you can get to what Etzioni is talking about is to overthrow our entire system of law.  Our constitution and legal system are based on individual rights.

In Etzioni’s article he states:
“The neo-communitarian position seeks to understand as well as design society in light of the inevitable conflicts between rights, which privilege the person, and concerns for the common good, which privilege the community or society.”

Did you catch that? Design society in light of the inevitable conflicts between rights and the common good.

Re-Designing society. This is happening now.  In your town.  Right in your neighborhood association, your PTA, your city council, your place of worship, your local planning department, your schools.  This is not a remote, scholarly concept.  This is being imposed and enacted across the nation.

The overthrow of our legal system is in progress by the election of politicians  and judges who support communitarianism and Agenda 21.  For the common good.

Transforming America: Sustainable Development

Take a look at this clear, consise, easy-to-read pamphlet on UN Agenda 21 by Michael Shaw. You’ll be glad you took the time to review it.

Transforming_America

McCain sowing seeds of hate?

 

Another Rant from BettyJean Kling

 

What’s this I hear; Obama supporters are complaining that McCain supporters are getting a little testy with them? Well it’s about time! Just like their illustrious leader they are bullies- when you stand up to a bully they go running home crying because somebody stood up to them! All I can say is – they ought not to have started something they were not tough enough to finish.

 

There are angry and ready-to-rumble Mc Cain supporters out there and I could easily become one of them. I am being driven toward it – propelled daily by the hate mongering Obama supporters who have for 2 years antagonized, bashed, battered and harassed us. They have laughed in our faces believing they have this in the bag, thinking their party can not possibly lose. They have this ace – errrr – race card up their sleeve and it seems to trump all other cards. And up to now it seems to have worked.

 

They have called us racists, have intimidated us and now are trying to steal this election and our very democracy from us. Just today on the street I was accused of being a racist simply for having a sign that read “Democrat for McCain” and my friend was called a racist, her sign read “Women for McCain and Palin”

 

Do they take us for fools? Do they think we have short memories? Do they think our women are that short sighted, that they have no dignity or pride?  Do they think our men have no dignity and or pride in their wives, mothers or daughters?

 

Yes there are hate mongering supporters, but it is not something that John McCain started this week as the main stream media and the Obama camp would have you believe. No No No – this angry angst that you are witnessing from McCain supporters is the result of frustration these American citizens feel as they watch their democracy slip through their fingers while the media blindly reports racism where none exists and allows blatant sexism to rage on unchecked.

 

Every time Obama is questioned – about anything – it’s a lynching according to the Obamabots, the pundits and bought and paid for media stooges. This has been going on since Obama entered his name into the race. No one has been able to ask him anything about anything. First Hillary and now Sarah have been treated in the most despicable way imaginable. How can we go out into this world preaching against sexism, women’s rights and human rights when we are the worst offenders? Any country that allows their women to be humiliated in this fashion has absolutely no standing to preach to any other country regarding women’s rights.

 

Congressman Lewis claims McCain and Palin are sowing the seeds of hate in their supporters? Has he seen and heard Obama supporters? In Philly the people on the streets wore derogatory shirts and yelled ‘stone’ her!  I believe that amounts to a threat on her life! At a hockey game televised worldwide she was booed – how classy! Obama supporters  have been very effective at crashing Hillary meetings over the past 18 months causing disruptions.  I’ve been assaulted  myself three times and now they do the same at  Sarah’s events. Congressman, your bias is showing.

 

Mr. Lewis, if you missed that, are you aware of the Obama Celebs? They are notorious. Jay Z; Ludacris; Madonna, Sandra Bernhard: Obama Supporter Threatens Sarah Palin With Gang Rape – is that acceptable to you? Read about that here and I expect your comments on these supporters forthcoming sir. http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/09/obama-supporter-threatens-sarah-palin.html

 

In a country where racism is not tolerated we apparently not only tolerate sexism we make it into a thriving business! Congressman Lewis before you start accusing McCain and Palin of anything at this late stage maybe you should have spoken up about 2 years ago when Obama, his campaign or the party or the media or anyone for that matter did not stop his supporters from what they did to Hillary and are now doing to Sarah. Where is your outrage about this you damned hypocrite? Or don’t white girls’ have civil rights that mater to you?

 

Let’s hear from you Congressman Lewis. Let’s hear from you Al Sharpton, Let’s hear from the rest of you screaming civil rights leaders.  Women’s Rights are Human Rights aren’t they? Human Rights are Civil Rights aren’t they? Damned Hypocrites!

 

Tell me folks- what pictures, signs or shirt on the streets have you seen that cry racism? Have you actually seen anything or it is just race baiting instead of blatant racism.  

 

Let me show you what blatant looks like so you can recognize PURE damned  SEXISM – not innuendo- not maybe- not my imagination – not my hysteria- not coincidence. Damned it -let me show you just a hint- not a lot just a hint of what I have seen on the streets for nearly two years that clearly cries Sexism. (see pictures below)

 

Lets look at yet another form of blatant Sexism.  Think about how they are trotting Hillary out all over the country not to pay down her own campaign debt but to raise money for Obama- yes Obama – her abuser and he is the highest money raiser in history . Sounds like they really want to stick it to us doesn’t it? Go out and raise money for the man and the party that abused you – beat you and cheated on you and do it with a smile honey!

 

Still feel like a Democrat? Still want to leave that Top of the ticket empty rather than vote against our beloved party do we? Sure go right ahead – help the Dems! They are really more on your side than Sarah Palin aren’t they?  She’s gonna set you further back than that? Keep dreaming ladies – by my account ain’t nobody going to set us further back than that. I will do everything in my power to stop the party and the man that did this to her and to every woman who ever marched so that we could have the right to vote against the Democratic Party on November 4th in protest for the way they treat women in America 160 years after our ancestors first stood up against these dirty bastards so that we would have a leg to stand upon now.

 

Grow up- take your place as a woman and finish the job our mothers and their mothers before them started- damned it!

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $10 million so far for Obama. So who is counting? Clinton is.

By Lynn Sweet on October 11, 2008 11:02 AM

http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/10/hillary_rodham_clinton_raised.html

 

 

 

And right from Obama’s own site and supporters- Congressman Lewis – have a good look at this sir: