If there is a hell....
Michigan gave purified water to state workers in Flint long before it acknowledged a problem with the city's water https://t.co/spmnvSzDtg— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 29, 2016
‘His death made us stronger’: Uganda's LGBT groups on David Kato’s murder https://t.co/ZtopbIi1uQ— The Guardian (@guardian) January 26, 2016
January 26 was the fifth anniversary of the brutal murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. His colleagues have carried on with great courage and remarkable grace. Below is video from Kato's funeral in 2011, where his friends carried his coffin themselves.
As The New Yorker reports, the Church sexual abuse scandal got as close as to Benedict XVI's brother Georg Ratzinger, who was director of the Regensburg Choir when more than two hundred children were victimized there. But possibly the most damning case was that of Father Maciel:
Most cases of abuse were handled (or not handled) by local bishops and archbishops, but some were adjudicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The most prominent of these cases was that of Father Marcial Maciel, a favorite of Pope John Paul II and the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful Mexican religious order that, at its pinnacle, included eight hundred priests, fifteen universities, and a hundred and fifty prep schools, as well as a lay movement with a reported seventy thousand followers.
In the seventies and eighties, former members of the Legionaries reported that, as young boys, they had been sexually abused by Maciel. As the Church later acknowledged, the complainants were highly credible and had no ulterior motives: they were not seeking monetary compensation or notoriety. They followed Church procedures by filing formal charges through ecclesiastical courts in Rome, but nothing was done. In fact, Pope John Paul II called on Maciel to accompany him on papal visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993.
When one of the former Legionaries expressed his frustration, in the lawsuit, about the Church’s inaction, Berry and Renner reported in their book, the Legionaries’ own canon lawyer, Martha Wegan, who made no secret that her first loyalty was to the Church, replied, “It is better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith.”
(Hat tip: Craig Howell)
They won't fill vacancies, they have canceled an entire shift, but hey, they've changed the name of the unit to be more inclusive! Whoopie! A store with half-empty shelves has a snazzy new display window!
Lou Chibbaro reports for the Blade on the push to decriminalize sex work, or at least to de-prioritize enforcement of anti-prostitution laws, an effort which many LGBT groups including GLAA have supported because so many already marginalized LGBT youth and trans women end up in the criminal justice system due to their having to rely on survival sex. Here is an excerpt that mentions GLAA and quotes me:
In D.C., the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance has been calling for decriminalization of sex work since 2008. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large), a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, said at the time of the Amnesty International declaration last August that he was considering introducing legislation to decriminalize prostitution in D.C.
But Grosso has since said he’s uncertain about whether such a bill would have any chance of passing at this time and he was reconsidering his plans for the legislation.
At a news conference on Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced plans for a cooperative D.C.-federal government effort to crack down on human trafficking, including trafficking of sex workers. When asked by a Blade reporter what they thought about calls by some LGBT organizations to decriminalize prostitution, Bowser and Maria Odom, the head of a Department of Homeland Security project to combat trafficking stopped short of backing decriminalization.
My Blade column this week looks at the struggle to connect amid turmoil. Here's an excerpt:
Public discussions these days seem to dredge up the nastiest extrusions of our national psyche in a destructive competition. Withdrawing from the melee would only make matters worse by conceding the field to mischief-makers. So how do we gracefully stand our ground in a contentious environment?
We cannot spend all our time with the like-minded. At some point we have to leave our echo chambers and uphold our positions. There is no perfectly safe way to be true to ourselves.
Twitter is a place of fluid boundaries, so I was not surprised that one source of light on gun control is actor Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, Boardwalk Empire, The Hunger Games). He posted a meme on January 7 quoting former Chief Justice Warren Burger: "The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies - the militia - would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires."
One of Wright's trolls replied, "Fuck you, Buckwheat, & this clueless, liberal judge legislating from the bench!" Wright calmly noted that he was quoting a Republican appointee, and added, "I associate more with Stymie," another black Little Rascals character. With wit and poise, he kept the upper hand. It might have been time-wasting had it been a private message, but he shared the exchange with his 80,000 followers. There is a point of diminishing returns, of course, for which the "block" button is handy.
Each of us strikes a different balance between comfort from comrades and abuse from adversaries. Some of us enjoy arguing more than others. The key consideration for the reality-based is persuasion. Mere insults appeal only to those already persuaded.
These insurrectionists show no sign of having a clue about what the Constitution actually says about the regulation of militias. Cut off their water, gas, and electricity, surround them at a safe distance, block any deliveries of food and other provisions, and wait them out. If they start firing, hit them with decisive force. They are not patriots, they are thieves of public resources resorting to terrorism to preserve their baseless claim to be above the law.
Interesting, practical suggestion from a philosophy professor.
Our friend Dana Beyer offers her two-part review of 2015 for the transgender cause.
My year-in-review column went online today at the Blade. My summary blurb is "Historic progress met the usual backlash." Here's an excerpt:
"Set the motherfucker on fire!" That recent call by a Donald Trump rally goer concerning a black protester, with another attendee yelling "Sieg heil," illustrates the viciousness fueling Trump's presidential campaign. If you take this lightly, Google "lynching." It is not just that what happened in Europe in the last century could happen here; what happened here could happen again. Trump's incitements, and those of his rivals, do not just pander to intolerance, they spray gasoline on the fire.
Hate-spewing demagogues were not the year's only newsmakers, but they produced its most dangerous legacy. The demons they unleashed cannot easily be tamed. But the haters cannot win the general election unless the rest of us allow it. Before we head back into battle, let us review some positive developments of 2015, though with cautionary notes.
The landmark victory for nationwide marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, which President Obama celebrated by lighting the White House north front in rainbow colors, inspired opponents to switch tactics by pushing "religious freedom" laws (better dubbed "religious supremacy") to continue their anti-gay attacks. The Equality Act represented a new approach to LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, but stood no chance in a Republican-controlled Congress. Openly gay Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson and several colleagues launched the smart, well-designed Campaign Zero policy website.
Americans are still attacking Sikhs because they think they’re Muslims https://t.co/kyshW58zYw— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 28, 2015
Doubly ignorant: we shouldn't be attacking Muslims as a group in the first place, much less mistaking members of a completely different religion for Muslims. This blind lashing out does no good and a great deal of harm.
Grand jury declines to indict Cleveland officers in the death of Tamir Rice https://t.co/5meXvYFFki— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 28, 2015
No charges, no justice for Tamir, and sadly no surprise. Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty is a disgrace. How can people respect the law when the law will not respect them? Let us keep in mind something activist DeRay Mckesson wrote last June, "There's a tendency to push black folk into this immediate 'healing' phase without acknowledging the actual trauma." Yes.
Why white people see black boys like Tamir Rice as older, bigger and guiltier than they really are https://t.co/5Dwjf9vffk— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 29, 2015
#BlackLivesMatter activist DeRay Mckesson speaking at the #glaadgala in San Francisco. I have written about him many times in my column; here he speaks for his own eloquent self. Here's to coming out of the quiet.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows not only arriving Syrian families, but Canada and the world, what a civilized and decent country looks like. Bravo.
Joe Scarborough cuts off Trump's filibustering and goes to break. Next time, how about not giving him free airtime in the first place to spew his ignorance and intolerance? Our friend Ernest Hopkins wrote on Facebook:
Morning Joe turned over the show to Trump this morning when he called in and talked with the panel for 30 minutes about his proposal to ban foreign Muslims from the U.S.
The conversation that ensued was filled with racist, nativist, ignorance often conflating religion with race, assumptions that Muslims were immigrants from war torn lands, and that at their core, Muslims were 'other' by definition and hard to be trusted. I watched in anger and disgust as Joe Scarborough readily engaged these concepts with Trump--offering to go to Muslim centers to 'talk it out' with 'these people'.
I have never experienced an election cycle remotely like this one when so many people are comfortable with expressing so much intolerance and fear, and the political class seem immobilized by the popularity of Trump and his fascist proposals. I hope we make it through intact, having learned important lessons from this horrible season of unconstitutional rhetoric and feelings.
Our friend Ernest Hopkins writes on Facebook about this Atlantic article by Peter Beinart:
Brilliant analysis. Relax U.S. citizenry the president is a really smart guy and also quite a student of history. He is paying way more attention than the press credits and is doing way more than we will ever know. I really believe that. Good read.
I thought my Blade column last week was harsh, but the situation has already gotten worse. Here's an example:
Here is the truth whether you like it or not:@realDonaldTrump is only candidate to have the bravery to put out that statement on Muslims— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) December 7, 2015
Really? How brave is it to appeal to people's worst instincts and betray U.S. values while making terrorism likelier? These reckless provocateurs--and I mean Trump and others like him or supporting him--are endangering lives and the civil order. It is good that the chorus of criticism is rising against him; but he has already tapped into the national Id to such a degree that it is not clear he can be stopped. It is necessary to try, for our country's and our diverse people's sake.
Troy Masters writes in The Pride LA:
Daniel Kaufman is a hero.
He was in the hallway of the facility as the shooting began. Daniel, more concerned about everyone around him than himself, was screaming “Get out! Go! Get out now! Hurry!” He began pushing people out of harms way, urging them to the safety of the door before he was shot and killed.
He is credited with saving 4 people’s lives, according to sources close to Ryan Reyes, Kaufman’s surviving partner. Reyes will tell his story this week on the Dr. Phil show.
Please join us Saturday morning for the Washington, DC event:
Date: Dec. 5
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Location: All Souls Church Unitarian (1500 Harvard St. NW)
My new Blade column takes on several Republican candidates and their inflammatory and irrational statements. I don't normally suggest illustrations to my editor, but I did this time, and he used it--a 1799 etching by Francisco Goya, from the same decade that saw the adoption of the Bill of Rights. (Thanks, Kevin Naff.) Our Founders' Enlightenment values are under assault. Stay woke!
Here's an excerpt:
If America is really as fragile as the fear mongers among us claim, then we are dead already.
Not being dead, you and I can push back against the Trumps, Cruzes, Fiorinas, and Rubios. There is an angry minority in this country that supports white supremacy and running everyone else's lives while touting small-government conservatism. They are louder of late not due to greater numbers, but because opportunists dredged them up from the bottom of the pond--and because their smartphones give them greater reach than their fathers. They are entitled to their ugly opinions, but not to endanger the public safety.
Statements by Republican presidential candidates read like entries from a psychiatrist's log in Bedlam. Donald Trump doubles down on his lie about thousands of Arabs in Jersey City celebrating the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He touts bogus racist crime stats. He mocks a reporter's disability, then says he doesn't know the guy, despite having known him for years. Marco Rubio says to ignore SCOTUS on marriage because "God's rules always win." How does his God get to overrule mine?
Carly Fiorina denies any link between her inflammatory lies about Planned Parenthood and the Black Friday killings in Colorado. She draws a false equivalence between Black Lives Matter protesters and people who bomb abortion clinics. Ted Cruz deflects a reporter's question about clinic shooter Robert Lewis Dear's cry, "No more baby parts!" (which echoes David Daleiden's fraudulent infanticide video), by seizing on a dubious claim from the right-wing blogosphere that Dear was a "transgendered [sic] leftist activist." The same fever swamp yielded the claim that Michelle Obama is really a man.