In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:
Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.
When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.
This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.
After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.
The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."
#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards
Sen. Cruz simply turns the truth on its head and portrays discriminators as victims of persecution. That only makes sense if gay people are not human beings, or not rightful citizens, or if there is no secular public space. What Cruz and others call religious freedom is really religious supremacy for them over the rest of us. We have no choice but to fight back.
In a long-ago Doonesbury cartoon, Joanie Caucus says to her dying friend after he and his doctor trade some gallows humor, "How can you joke about this?" He replies, "How can you not?"
Thanks to Councilmember Grosso.
GLAA discusses the issue in our latest policy brief.
The recent Washington Post commentary misses a key point. Keeping commercial sex on the black market makes sex workers less safe. Legalization does not solve everything, but it would help with that. Regulation and inspection are also needed. And of course alternatives are crucial, otherwise consent is illusory. Consent implies choices, which are all too often absent for (say) trans women of color who were driven into sex work because of transphobia and discrimination.
The arrests currently being boasted of by MPD generate criminal records, which only make it harder for the sex workers to get better and safer work. Imperfect solutions may still improve things for the marginalized populations that are most at risk. Equating all sex work with human trafficking is false and counterproductive. Disapproval of commercial sex does not make it the same as kidnapping and slavery. If we cannot make these distinctions, we are doing no favors to the ladies on the stroll who are there to avoid starvation and who are kept there by public policy.
Gov. Christie thinks the rights of trans people are laughable. What is laughable is that this smug bully is the governor of a state, much less a presidential candidate. But the rights of our transgender brothers and sisters are no laughing matter. The legal denial of trans people's existence is cruel, pointless, and must stop.
Our friend Andy Bowen at Garden State Equality comments:
Hey Governor Chris Christie: 33 trans women have been murdered in the US in the last two years. Our survival is #nolaughingmatter
My friend Walter Dellinger talks about his experience arguing before the Supreme Court, including when he was Acting Solicitor General under President Clinton during the 1996-1997 term.
White supremacy, racism killed Sandra Bland http://t.co/AonDFJbt33— Washington Blade (@WashBlade) August 3, 2015
I neglected to post this commentary last week. Our friend Lateefah Williams illuminates the structural racism behind the death in custody of Sandra Bland by sharing her own degrading experiences. Thanks to her for sharing this personal testimony. Those of us privileged enough not to face such treatment need to learn from those who do.
Kerry visits Malaysia, raises opposition leader’s sodomy conviction http://t.co/1rvgnnofkj— Washington Blade (@WashBlade) August 6, 2015
Anwar Ibrahim's conviction on a trumped-up sodomy charge was one of the grimmer signs of the lack of democracy in Malaysia. Having loved someone from Malaysia who was heartbroken over it, I thank Secretary of State Kerry for having raised the matter. But as long as gay love is demonized, corrupt rulers will exploit it.
50 years ago today, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, securing the right to vote for millions of African Americans.— President Obama (@POTUS) August 6, 2015