Thursday, June 28, 2007

the SCOTUS: recent decisions and what it means

Justices Limit Use of Race in Placement of Students - New York Times

if you haven't been paying attention to recent rulings by the SCOTUS (supreme court of the united states) then you're missing out on some good stuff.

today the archconservative majority decided to severely limit:
"the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools.

The court voted, 5 to 4, to reject diversity plans from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., declaring that the districts had failed to meet “their heavy burden” of justifying “the extreme means they have chosen — discriminating among individual students based on race by relying
upon racial classifications in making school assignments.”

what does that basically mean? it means that the court stupendously just struck down voluntary integrations programs in louisville and seattle. in other words, the court just told us that if school districts want to redress racial discrimination, they can't use RACE as a factor in that remedy.

scott lemieux, over at Lawyers Guns & Money, gives an always readable and succinct parsing of this decision. an exerpt:

"Nothing in the text of the Constitution compels these programs to be struck down. Essentially, Roberts's plurality opinion rests on the assertion that racial classifications intended to perpetuate a caste system should be considered the precise legal equivalent of racial classifications intended to remedy segregation. This is exceptionally unpersuasive, and also makes it almost impossible to actually remedy the ongoing de facto segregation of American school systems, much of which has roots in various forms of state discrimination (not just formal apartheid in the South, but the drawing of arbitrary school district lines to create segregated systems, local ordinances encouraging residential segregation, etc.) As Breyer says, "This context is not a context that involves the use of race to decide who will receive goods or services that are normally distributed on the basis of merit and which are in short supply. It is not one in which race-conscious limits stigmatize or exclude; the limits at issue do not pit the races against each other or otherwise significantly exacerbate racial tensions. They do not impose burdens unfairly upon members of one race alone but instead seek benefits for members of all races alike. The context here is one of racial limits that seek, not to keep the races apart, but to bring them together." To compare what these cities are doing to states that maintained apartheid is historically blinkered and morally untenable."

people, people, people.
if it's not clear now, i don't know when it will ever be clear: who sits on the SCOTUS is extremely important . this whole asinine, topsy-turvy interpretation of precedent and the law is the direct result of democrats caving during the roberts and alito confirmations.

when the next seat becomes free, i want the dems to skirmish to the death. to the death!
the fabric of our country depends on it. (not to overstate things too much.)

what else has the SCOTUS decided this year?

well, they tanked women's reproductive rights with their ruling on Gonzalez v. Carhart
they tanked fighting workplace discrimination with their ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear
they crapped on free speech with Morse v. Frederick
(but they also tanked illegal recruiting practices disguised as free speech in Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association v. Brentwood Academy - go figure)
they thumbed their noses at church/state separation with Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation

however, last year, they did give the POTUS the finger when they ruled the bush administration couldn't try Gitmo detainees before military commissions.

[update: feministing has a similar round up on their site - ha ha! great minds!]

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

coming to a seminary near you: the pr0n elephant

Feministing has a riotous post about the big blue porn elephant that's making the church rounds as a way to educate congregations about our christian (i.e., hidden) porn addiction.


mark your calendars, folks. october 7 is porn sunday.

(and, hey. i got rid of my pr0n, thank you very much. it made me sad.)

does the F word count?

Nebraska judge lacks clue re: Truth at I Blame The Patriarchy

if you follow the links, you'll eventually get to the story of a nebraska judge who has banned the used of the word 'rape' in, uh, rape trials. apparently, the word rape (the crime being prosecuted) is too inflammatory. yeah. that's why SO many rapists are in jail these days. because emotional juries just throw the book at them and their raping ways.

what else will disappear from the lexicon because it's just too mentally distressing for men to handle?

if women cannot name what has happened to them, if we're forced to call it some other cleaner less intrusive word, then what happens to the actual rape? does it really disappear or does it make people feel better about not having to deal with the fact that women still get treated like shit?

(and i don't mean that in a 'you hurt my feelings' way. when i say women get treated like shit i mean that their unique experiences are ignored and aren't given the same weight as men's experiences. it's great for the guy accused of rape if his accuser can't say the word; it sucks for the woman who's operating from a default position of being assumed a liar.)

and of course, in the back our minds is the duke/lacrosse team thing. they're exonerated and now the woman who accused them will never ever be believed. women will never ever be believed. we can't say rape, we can't control our own reproduction, we can't avoid being killed by intimate partners.

is this really what being a woman is all about in this century?
is this the little progress we've made?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

baby daddies are dangerous

first, did you know that the second biggest injury-related killer of pregnant women is homicide?

i'm sure you've read the news stories about that pregnant woman in ohio, jessi davis, who was killed by her boyfriend and found in a field. and then about that woman and her kids killed in illinois by her husband. what's up with men?? you have issues and the first thing you do is murder your girlfriend and kids?

it boggles the freaking mind. these stories of murdered women build up and sometimes it makes you look at the other half of the population all aslant.

this woman wrote her boyfriend a note in response to these latest stories of domestic violence against women:

If for some reason I am pregnant, and you suddenly realize that I am just days away from delivering, don't kill me. I know you might not be "ready" to be a father, but there are better ways out of it. Of course I would prefer it if you were a loving and supportive husband and father, but you might freak out. Maybe you're having an affair. Now being a man, you won't think things through. Killing me is NOT an option. Counseling IS an option. You do realize you would be the first person police questioned if I were to go missing right?

If you must be rid of me, just up and leave. I'll go home to live with my dad, or find solace in the arms of a best friend. But I will be alive, and that's the clincher. I'd rather be a single mom on welfare than found murdered in the wilderness.

when my dad was visiting, he got embroiled in a rather heated group discussion with my girlfriends about our singleness. (because we are all speaking english but busing it differently, it's a futile conversation; but we keep having it and my girlfriends are gracious enough to indulge.)

but his constant refrain, which kept puzzling us, was "be a woman."

we had no idea what that meant. i mean, we have ovaries. we're women. there's no escaping that simple, biological fact.

oh, be 'feminine!' that's what he means!
well, i have an issue with that, too.
a girl friend told us (including my dad) the story of walking her dog in her 'hood. she passed this guy also walking his dog and he just got all aggressive on her and called her a dumb bitch and got in her face; she got back in his. my dad said that the correct response would have been to go soft and demure. uh, no. here in the city, you come at me, i come at you back.

if i took my dad's advice i guess i should have let that drunk guy bust in on me in the bathroom at a party some years ago. i should have let him intimidate me and publicly humiliate me. i should have gone all soft and giggly while he physically threatened me instead of defending myself while hurling a wooden brush through the air and knocking him on his ass.

but to look at the larger culture, i guess 'being a woman' also means 'being killed.'

thanks, i'd rather not.

[post corrected to be more accurate - thanks, lilith!]

hm. like the GOP is a friend to labor.

Senate Republicans Block Union Bill - New York Times

so. read this story and you get the idea that the republicans just saved the working man from a fate worse than death. but when has the GOP ever really been on the side of workers who want to organize, especially in new arenas like corporations or hospitals? the first step in critical thinking: whose interests are being protected?

to give you an idea of what they're not telling you, here's a local chicago blogger who's been pretty active on this issue and not only made a solid argument for this piece of legislation, he got burned for it by those very republicans who wanted to bury the working man under a lot of misinformation.

look like it worked.
i'm also curious to know which Dems voted against this. just wonderin'.

Monday, June 25, 2007

adulthood blows. no, it's great. really.

Roomie just bought a place and the purchase puts in high relief that i need to get my adulthood act together. sure, i'm an adult and everything, with a great (burgeoning) career and friends, but perhaps it's time to finally get off the roommate train that i boarded back in 2000. it's been fun, supportive, fiscally feasible and wonderful to have a partner in crime but i'm almost 40. maybe i've been using it like a crutch. (and Roomie and i have talked about this so this isn't something she doesn't know has been kicking around. she sometimes sees things before i do.)

but i was looking at my so-called options yesterday and it gave me a stomach-ache. financially, nothing can happen before italy (I-TAL-IA!) but i still need a plan, right?

what is it that i want?

what do i imagine the next stage of my life becoming?

is it a single, 40-something life in a streeterville studio? (affordable but depressing for me)

is it a single, 40-something life in a west town apartment? (not depressing and affordable if i get a whopping raise)

is it a financially strapped single 40-something life in a condo in west town or logan square? (stressful and totally not affordable)

i'm trying to think about these things as clear-eyed as possible, with as little emotion as possible. (i think i do my best thinking when i'm not emotional about it.) but, very viscerally, i have one image in my head of what i don't want my life to look like: the female version of B-'s life. one fork, one spoon, one plate, one towel. i may have made fun of it but i should have paid more attention to how alike we actually were, because right now, i'm pretty much one fork, one spoon, one plate, and so on.

(we can include one bed, two bookcases, one bench, two chairs, tiny tea cups, one tv, one get the picture.)

but while i also feel the pull to be adult (i.e., accumulate) i also don't want all that stress-inducing work, you know? setting up a household. it sounds so daunting. i'm certainly not one of those die-hard folks who want to lessen their 'footprint.' my footprint is what it is: less than other people's, more than a homeless guy's. but i also want to throw a sop to my vanity and live a life that's really wonderful, you know? that's not chintzy. one that's full. self-indugent? perhaps. but that's what it is, too.

but, hey. at least my fibroid will be gone in two months. yay.

Friday, June 22, 2007

men and violence against women: a new poll

this was really interesting. it studies men's attitudes toward sexual assault and domestic violence.

some findings:
Men recognize the prevalence of domestic violence/sexual assault
More than half think a woman they know will be a victim
Many men believe they can make a difference in addressing the problem of violence against women
Most men are willing to get involved in efforts to address the problem of domestic violence/sexual assault
Many men are already getting involved by talking to children about healthy, violence-free relationships
Many men are willing to express their disapproval when individuals - either friends or celebrities - make jokes or demeaning comments about women or exploit them
Men do not give any institutions high marks for doing enough to raise awareness and address the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault
Men broadly support employer-based efforts to address domestic violence and sexual assault

if you follow the link you can find the study itself and check it out.
in other news, my summer dating project is getting off to a great start.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

coercive morality: not just for gay people anymore

when they come for one, they'll come for all:

US: Unmarried couples lose legal benefits where gay marriage banned - By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY

States that have banned gay marriage are beginning to revoke the benefits of domestic partners of public employees.

Michigan has gone farthest, prohibiting cities, universities and other public employers from offering benefits to same-sex partners. In all, 27 states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the legally sanctioned union of a man and a woman.

A Michigan court ruled in February that public employers may not offer benefits to unmarried partners, gay or straight, because of a 2004 amendment defining marriage. Government employers there had offered benefits only to gay couples.

Kalamazoo and the Ann Arbor school district have notified employees that they will end domestic partners' benefits. An appeal is before the state Supreme Court.

Kentucky Attorney General Gregory Stumbo ruled this month that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville may not offer benefits to domestic partners, gay or straight. A U.S. appeals court last year upheld Nebraska's amendment barring government employers from granting benefits, including health insurance, to same-sex couples. It didn't address benefits for unmarried heterosexual couples.

Ohio state Rep. Tom Brinkman, a Republican, has filed a lawsuit to bar Miami University of Ohio from offering benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

"We're in kind of a giant race, a historic race, with all these court cases," says Matt Daniels, president of Alliance for Marriage, which lobbies for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. "When the dust settles, we'll have a national standard for marriage. What is going on in the states is a dress rehearsal."

Gay-rights activists say they are fighting for families, too.

"Anti-gay organizations have tried to attack currently existing protections for gays and lesbians and unmarried couples for a long time," says Camilla Taylor, an attorney for the gay-rights organization Lambda Legal. "They don't want to limit marriage between a man and a woman — they want to attack the protections that exist and make life difficult for non-traditional families."

Most of the 27 state amendments were passed after a 2004 Massachusetts law allowed gay marriage. An additional 17 states passed marriage laws but did not amend their constitutions.
remember the dan savage column exhorting us apathetic straight folks to get off our asses if we didn't think social conservatives wouldn't eventually start making some legal inroads in our hetero-normative lives?

I've been running around with my hair on fire trying to convince my straight readers that religious conservatives don't just hate homos. Their attacks on gay people, relationships, parents, and sex get all the press, but the American Taliban has an anti-straight-rights agenda too. As I wrote on March 23: "The GOP's message to straight Americans: If you have sex, we want it to fuck up your lives as much as possible. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortion services, no lifesaving vaccines. If you get pregnant, tough shit. You're going to have those babies, ladies, and you're going to make those child-support payments, gentlemen. And if you get HPV and it leads to cervical cancer, well, that's too bad. Have a nice funeral, slut."

in the words of dan, this is some serious shit, breeders.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

my favorite bible stories: jael & sisera

when i was a girl, i remember reading this story in the old king james version of my mother's worn ivory bible. the pages were edged in faded 'gold' and the best stories had vivid color plates to accompany them. in the new testament, the pictures were mostly of jesus - surrounded by crowds, carrying little children on his lap, being crucified - but in the old you had the drowning of the egyptians, david killing goliath, the ark finding the olive branch and the tent-pegging of sisera. the color plate was vivid to me: there was a tall, attractive jael in her robes and there was the sleeping sisera at her feet. she held a big hammer in one hand and a big tent peg in the other and she looked down at sisera with the faintest smile. i was hooked.

there's a war going on and israel's enemy is routed; the enemy general, sisera, is on the run and flees to the camp of an ally. there, jael tells him he's safe and when sisera has fallen asleep (after some milk and a warm blanket) she takes a tent peg and totally nails his head to the ground and he dies.


i vividly remember reading this story during church one afternoon while old pastor jake was preaching. at the time, i was too young to pay attention to jake's sermons and spent my time writing little stories on the back of the program or reading bible stories from my mother's bible. what my sister did to occupy her time while jake preached is a mystery to me; like all good baptist jeremiads, jake's sermons ran at least 60 minutes. sitting out there while the hot sunday afternoon burned around me, i read this story in my mother's bible and i remember giggling so hard she had to pinch my arm. i don't know if it was the simple cadence of the king james version that struck me:
'Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand,
and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it
into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.'
or if it was just the absurd image of a man being unexpectedly pegged to the ground while he was asleep and tired and full of warm milk. whatever the reason, it made me giggle so hard my mom actually took the bible away for a few minutes until i calmed down.
(and it also explains why the judith and holofernes story resounded with me, too. a beheading, this time!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

movie nights to come

i don't know about you, but i'm excited about The Golden Compass release.
a few years ago, a friend of mine from grad school was in town and while we walked through borders the way we'd walked back in ann arbor, he recommended phil pullman's series, His Dark Materials. my friend called it a version of Paradise Lost but told from lucifer's point of view and said that it was the anti-harry potter: dark, complex, subversive.

i read the first and second book and had to agree: these were terrific books. if you're a churchy person who likes children's books to be at all simple and easy, then these ain't for you. these are books that house a challenging moral universe that does not conform to 'christian' analogy, necessarily. in other words, it's not C.S. Lewis, but it's terrific literature just the same.

the movie's coming out in december and if they don't keep the dark complexity it'll be a piece of crap. but if they do, it'll rock.

(if you've read the book, you'll be familiar with daemons and if you go to the site you can create your own. the site's pretty neat. anyway, mine's albus, a male lion who personifies modesty, pride, solitude and inquisitivity. yeah, that's pretty much me in a shell.)

oh, and another movie i'm looking forward to?
I am Legend. this has to be one of the best vampire stories around and when i saw the trailer i breathed, 'awesommme!'
such a dork.

jesus camp

just got home from 'jesus camp' movie night at a friend's house.
yikes. we all had to have a couple of cigarette breaks to just get through the thing.

some things i noted:
first, i never grew up pentecostal so the whole speaking in tongues thing to me is just silly. i mean, it's gibberish, people. no one can understand you. watching little kids get whipped into a frenzy of tongues-speaking disturbs me a little; it's irrational, hyper-emotional and seems just a bit psychologically irresponsible and manipulative of the adult who controls it.

second, my issue with the movie has nothing to do with biblical doctrine. if you're a homeschooling, anti-evolution, fundamentalist, pentecostal evangelical and this is the way you want to raise your kids, then have at it. but it made me ask what the ramifications are of raising a group of children to be totally paranoid, with huge persecution issues and believing in the rhetoric of war?

for me, it doesn't matter if you're evangelical or a hippie on a greenpeace boat: the process the movie traces is a perfect one for raising a flaming radical who may or may not bear a significant resemblance to timothy mcveigh. in particular, i'm thinking of the scene where the kids are exhorted to smash porcelain cups with the word Government written on them. the symbolism is simple, yet effective. what's the difference between smashing the government to make it more holy and smashing the government because of its politics and policies? sounds like two faces of terrorism to me.

and i think of the scene at the end of the movie, where little rachael approaches a group of older african american men in an effort to 'witness' to them and she asks them if they died, do they know where they'd go? (typical witnessing gambit) one of them says heaven, she presses how does he know and then they leave when it's clear that the men aren't going to say any different. as she's crossing the street with her little friend she says, 'i think they were moslem.'

my friends and i laughed our asses off. it was funny. but it was also telling: here's this little girl, totally raised to look at anyone who doesn't believe what she believes as the Other. and what's the form of this Other? a moslem.

disturbing, man. (oh, and never mind the part where the kids are practically genuflecting in front of a cardboard cutout of president bush. euww. idolatry, anyone? oh! or the part where they tape little plastic fetuses on their hands and pray for an end to abortion. do i want these kids in charge of my reproductive health access? hell no.)

should folks see it? i think so. it sparked a lot of discussion in my group about our different faith traditions, what being 'saved' is and if that's a requirement for all faith groups and then led to a broader discussion of recent supreme court decisions and why alito and roberts perhaps need to experience the Rapture before anyone else.

(oh, and the ted haggard stuff is just priceless.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

dear jesus: help me be a grown up

slowly but surely, i'm getting my act together.
it started with paying off my school debt, then my tax debt and now, it's about securing my retirement. my father would probably look at this as 'worrying' and not trusting in the Lord but that's why we have IRAs, so i won't have to bother the Lord about my retirement.

i spoke with a fund guy this morning and felt mature while doing it but also like i was totally faking it. but the long and short of it is now i have a diversified fund that will grow aggressively over the next few years and then we'll start taking it back a notch as i get older and more risk-averse. the end point? i think the goal is to accrue as close to a million dollars by the time i retire (if i remember the prospectus correctly.)

a bonus: next year, i can access some money for italy (which i've also started saving for) and the penalty actually isn't that bad if it's under $1000. heh.

what's next on the adulthood checklist?
perhaps buying property (only after italy and figuring out my next job move, which may have just presented itself at work)
perhaps, uh, another person (however, the likelihood of that is remarkably slim; i have more chance of going around the world than that)

or perhaps the next step in my march toward adulthood is just buying a grown up bed.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

movie night with ding's friends

a scene of weekend movie watching with ding's friends, who all come to the church via different roads if at all:

Movie Night? This Sunday, maybe? KS has Jesus Camp and if she's available and you guys are, maybe that'll work?
Jesus Camp at your place? Praise be.
Would love to see you all but I'm afraid I cannot endure another viewing of
Jesus Camp.

Fine by me. Can we move the TV to the balcony so I can smoke? Just curious.
Okay, let's just say Sunday is it. KS, if you can't make it I can find the movie but we will miss you. TG, you will miss our sing-along, but that's your loss ;-)
7 pm is cool with me, but I'm not averse to making it 6:30 on your deck with a cold one. I need to bone up on the words. Shut Out De Do' Keep Ou' De Debil....
Can we get a hymn book? I grew up Methodist and didn't learn all those crazy Jesus songs for kids.
I believe that overhead projected sheets are more the thing. Happily, since all the songs basically have one 4 line stanza repeated ad nauseum, they aren't too hard to pick up - as an example of the top of my head, I present...

Ri-ise and shi-ine and give God the glory, glory;

Ri-ise and shi-ine and give God the glory, glory;

RISE and SHINE and (clap) give God the glory, glory;

Chil-DREN of the Lord.
Don't even get me started. Oh, okay.

Cuz friends are friends forever if the lord's the
lord of them. And a friend will not say never because the welcome does not end.
And though it's hard to let you go, in the father's hands we know. That a
lifetime's not too live as friends.

This is, of course, for the last night of camp. Big tearfest.
You pulled out Michael W. Smith. He trumps Amy grant. But you know what? I don't care about the singing, all I care about is the diorama. I will call the black
yarn right now for my lion's 's mane..... something something about some kid in a lion's den. i'm changing the kid to a penguin. I'll bring the shoebox.

If you turn DANIEL into a penguin I think I’m going to pray that Thursday's hurricane hover outside your window.
Screw you. My Daniel can be anything he wants to be. Message over the man, dude.
Apologies--and huge shout out to TG. I am so, so, so sorry you're being dragged into the eye of the fundamentalist dragon show. Praise Holy Mary, mother of god, catholic sistah.

As soon as we watch the damn thing I’ll go into a fundamentalist flashback and melt into a pool of drool, it'll be that traumatic.
It’s our only way of coping.


My personal favorite...

I am the churchYou are the churchWe are the church, together. (My favorite line)
All who follow Jesus, all around the world,Yes! We're the church

It's a global message, and yet, completely exclusive. Trickery!

Which shows the total cognitive dissonance it takes to be a part of it.

Indeed. My favorite necessary cognitive dissonance is:

'We are better than the Catholics because we reject the idea of an intermediary coming between God and the individual - oh, and by the way, here is exactly what the Bible means and requires of you - just trust us on it - please, no questions. Really. This is what it means. Yes, I know even the very first book of Genesis seems to contradict itself, but believe me, for reasons you can't possibly understand
having to do with the Fall being masterminded by Eve, you just have to trust us
that the rib/helper of Adam version is more right than that simultaneous
creation of man and woman crap. OK, lets move out of Genesis and turn
to Paul's reminder that women should be silent in church.'

No I'm not bitter at all.

Friday, June 01, 2007

goodyear: not good for women

you know, i was thinking.

if goodyear thinks it's so hot to screw women over, why should we buy their tires?
frak 'em.

you can read a few reactions and analysis at:
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Huffington Post
Amanda at Pandagon

it's half day friday

Knocked Up - Movies - Review - New York Times
i love seth rogan. he's adorable.

my Roomie calls this movie "a premise that could be solved with one visit to Planned Parenthood" and while that is true, it does not prevent me from wanting to see it and AO Scott's thumbs up just makes me want to see it more.

(a hardened New Yorker moved to almost tears? awesome.)