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Friday, July 20, 2012

“BECAUSE I FELT LIKE IT . . .”

I, like the rest of the world today, woke up to the sickening events in Aurora, Colorado. I lone gunman went to the movie opening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and shot up the theatre, killing 12 people and injuring 59 more. He wasn’t trying to commit “suicide by cop”, either – he surrendered without a fight. So, what’s the reasoning behind his actions?

Let me say at this point that I am a member of a group called PINK PISTOLS, which is a GLBT shooting club that is also a member of the NRA. I take my 2nd Amendment rights very seriously; the one recourse that all people of the United States have access to combat tyranny is the right to keep and bear arms. However, an armed citizenry and a RESPONSIBLE, well-educated citizenry are two separate things. Most people aren’t psychologically capable of shooting to wound or kill even in defense of their lives.

I know a lot of people that think that gun control laws in this country are too draconian and far too strict. They believe and often say that they should have the right to have any sort of gun that they want to have, up to and including automatic weapons with ammunition drums, to defend themselves from . . . whatever. A lot of the ill-informed also use those automatic weapons to hunt creatures like deer and so on. I won’t debate the merits of using an automatic weapon on an herbivore, since I bow-hunt. The fact remains that using an automatic weapon for anything other than its’ designed purpose is pretty stupid.

Check out what an automatic weapon is designed to do: Throw multiple rounds at a fast rate of speed at a designated target that is moving quickly. Well, that makes it OK to use for hunting, right? Wrong. An automatic weapon is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to disable, wound or kill a very dangerous predator, another human being. That’s its’ only purpose. That is the rationale behind the armed services having such weapons. Even if a person armed with an automatic weapon doesn’t kill or wound the person or people that she/he is shooting at, just the sound of the weapon’s firing is enough to scare that person into taking cover.

Most people that have and use automatic weapons haven’t taken a gun safety course, they don’t know how to effectively use such a weapon, and, in most cases, they think that using the weapon means treating it like a garden hose and spraying the bullets around. Thus, we have the horrific massacres in places like Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Chechnya – or Aurora, Colorado.

It’s easy to squall and bawl about our 2nd Amendment rights – but what about our 2nd Amendment RESPONSIBILITIES? We have the right to keep and bear arms, and very few checks on who is allowed to buy and keep them. The only check required in most states is that licensed gun dealers must keep up-to-date records of their gun sales, including the name, address and occupation of the person to whom they sell the weapon and request a background check on anyone buying a gun. The NRA shrieked to high heaven when the Brady Bill requiring a 3 day waiting period and a background check became law – and that was just for HANDGUNS. Professor Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School had this to say about the tragedy (http://www.salon.com/topic/gun_control/page/2/): “Today, murder in Aurora, CO. is an interesting topic.”

Yup, I guess that you could characterize this as an “interesting topic.” Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas had this to say about the tragedy (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/louie-gohmert-aurora-shootings_n_1689099.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular): “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Friday that the shootings that took place in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater hours earlier were a result of "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter.”

What a chuckle-headed fool. If anybody else had had a gun, all that probably would have happened would have been that far MORE people would have gotten hurt and killed. Just because a person has the Constitutionally-protected RIGHT to keep and bear arms, DOES NOT MEAN that that person has the right to open fire in response to a perceived or real attack. That’s just like yelling “FIRE” in a crowded enclosure. More people are hurt and killed trying to get OUT of the enclosure.

And what about the shooter? What about HIS reasons for doing what he did?

I expect that he’s going to try and plead insanity, and what he did was certainly insane. By any definition of insanity, he was unbalanced to even contemplate what he eventually wound up doing. However, he planned what he did with immaculate precision. Apparently, from the early reports, he had been planning to do something like this ever since he dropped out of medical school in May. And, in my view at least, that makes him sane. I also expect that, when all is said and done, his reason is going to be something along the lines of “I felt like it”, or “because I could.”

How contemptible.

My heart goes out to the parents and families of those who died this day, and to those whose loved ones are still alive. I wish that there was something that I could do to mitigate their pain and sorrow. There isn’t – and there never will be.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

APARTHEID NATION?

Something that was discussed in great detail on Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry’s program yesterday was Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech to the NAACP convention held here in Houston this week past. He brought up some interesting points, which made me think. A lot.

With the advent of voter ID laws here in this country, we’re heading backwards on voters’ rights, according to Mr. Holder. Mandating that EVERYBODY has to have a valid photo ID of some sort, issued by the state in which that person is voting, Mr. Holder said, was like unto the reintroduction of poll tax laws. Me, I think that the situation is a lot worse than people realize. I think that we’re trying to institute apartheid into this country.

Here’s the Webster’s dictionary definition of apartheid:

a•part•heid ( ah-pärt heit )
n.

1. An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.

2. A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.

3. The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

And, here we go again. Backwards into the old-time abominable practice of Jim Crow laws and segregation.


Mr. Holder said Tuesday he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters; he also told the NAACP in Houston that he will do everything he can to make sure the law doesn’t stand, adding that the Justice Department “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.” Under the law passed in Texas, Holder said that “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them — and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes,” Mr. Holder added spontaneously, drawing applause as he moved away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people.

Mr. Holder spoke a day after a trial started in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls. Under Texas’ law, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would serve as acceptable ID to vote, but a student ID would not. He went on to say that while only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, about 25 percent of black people lack such identification.

“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said, adding that the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”

“I will not allow that to happen,” he added.

OK, but I’m wondering just how he plans to stop it. Yeah, yeah – I know, we’ve got a Constitutional amendment saying that things like literacy tests and poll taxes aren’t legal any more, but, sheesh, people, this is happening right before our eyes, and we’re not doing anything to stop it for the most part.

I grew up in Texas during a time when there was segregated EVERYTHING: restrooms, lunch counters, drinking fountains, busses – you name it, we had it. Well, folks, South Africa had it too, for a long time, and it was finally gotten rid of, thanks to people like Nelson Mandela. There is still a lot of racism there, but eventually, through generational change, it will finally die almost completely out.
We had (and truth be known, still do have) our own version of apartheid here in this country, beginning after the Civil War. Couldn’t call the freedmen slaves any more, so they were called sharecroppers or tenant farmers, and they were herded into neighborhoods kept far, FAR away from the white people. There were/are 2 kinds of segregation, and what we see now and what is still endemic in this country is something called hypersegregation.

Hypersegregation is a form of racial segregation that consists of both unforced and forced geographical separation of racial groups. Most often, this occurs in cities where the residents of the inner city are African Americans and the suburbs surrounding this inner core are often white European American residents. The idea of hypersegregation gained credibility in 1989 largely due to the work of Douglas Massey and Nancy A. Denton and their studies of "American Apartheid" when whites created the black ghetto during the first half of the 20th century in order to isolate growing urban black populations by segregation among inner-city African-Americans. It has also been called “white flight” because the white people that lived in the inner cities ran like hell to get AWAY from the black people that were moving into their enclaves. There was a phrase that defined that era – and it’s as disgusting today as it was then: “Well, I don’t really have anything against n()s but I sure don’t want to live next door to them.”

It’s a vicious, vile practice. Know what’s the saddest thing about it? Racism and segregation are alive and well right here, RIGHT NOW, in this country.

Take a look around you, gangers, and tell me that what’s going on in this nation right now isn’t sickening. We have, for the first time, a black man in the highest office in the land. We have a smart, shrewd, thoughtful, well-educated BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Black people had the temerity to actually VOTE for this man, and the white ReThugs have been trying to get rid of this uppity n() ever since. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated too many times to count that the one and only thing that the Republican Party should be focused on is defeating Barack Obama. To that end, both the Senate and the House Republicans have stalled or defeated legislation all in the name of making sure that the President is a one-term President. What’s the best way to do that? Disenfranchise people that would vote for him.

We now have the resurgence of segregation by way of required voter IDs. Not only coming back into style, but actually being pushed by white people. Never mind that the Voting Rights Act says that this sort of crap is illegal, there are very inventive people finding very inventive ways to stop both old and new voter registration. The three worst states are Tennessee, Florida and Pennsylvania – and Texas isn’t far behind. Alabama has one, and Arizona, of course, has their “PAPERS, PLEASE” law in effect as well. Wisconsin has one, as does Mississippi. Add Indiana to the mix as well. Are you seeing a pattern here?

I didn’t expect anything better out of the Southern states than what’s been transpiring – but I honestly thought that the Northern states were a bit more intelligent.

This is being done, as the ReThugs will tell you, to stop voter fraud. Well, guess what? In the past 2 general elections, there have been less than 1000 case of voter fraud recorded in the entire country.THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. The Brennan Center for Justice has published two papers about this (http://www.truthaboutfraud.org/), and even the Republican Party has admitted that voter fraud isn’t as wide-spread – MAYBE – as they first thought.

We SO don’t need a return to the days of voter suppression. That’s just another form of institutionalized denial of rights. We no longer have organizations that are even willing to try and register voters. The League of Women Voters gave up on registering voters in Florida because some of them were arrested for it. We no longer have ACORN, thanks to the contemptible efforts of James O’Keefe and his corporate shills. So, what’s going to happen?

I don’t know. All I can do is put this up:

First They Came .... poem by Martin Niemöller

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

He wrote this while he was in Dachau.

Can’t happen here again? Think again, people. Think again.

THINK.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Yet ANOTHER thing I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see. . .

((QUICK NOTE: I just tried for the upmtiumth time to access this blog, and here it IS! YAY! I'm BAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!))


Let's face it, I am a news junkie. I watch all sorts of news/infortainment/opinion programs every day, and I've been increasingly distressed to see the news programs degenerating into infotainment, more and more slanted to reflect the host's prejudices, and rarely being newsworthy to boot.

Well, on July 9th, 2012, I was galvanized while watching HARDBALL (with Michael Smerconish subbing for Chris Matthews). It's the second time this month that something has happened that was newsworthy that literally made me cry. And, it's something that's been a very long time coming. On June 19. 2012, Mr. Alan Chambers of Exodus International, Inc., sent out a letter to his faithful followers announcing a new direction for the organization (read it here: http://alanchambers.org/defining-exodus-letter-from-alan-chambers-for-june-2012/) that has stridently embraced a "PRAY THE GAY AWAY" approach to "curing" homosexuality through reparative therapy. On July 9, he appeared on Chris Matthews' show and discussed this with substitute host Michael Smerconish.

He chose to do this because he had talked with Mr. Smerconish several times, beginning on Mr. Smerconish's radio program 3 years ago, defending Exodus International's stand on (AND USE OF) that most disgusting of practices, reparative therapy. The complete transcript of his remarks can be read here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48134422/ns/msnbc_tv-hardball_with_chris_matthews/t/hardball-chris-matthews-monday-july/

Mr. Chambers said: "Well, I want to be clear about what those changes are. The fact is, my life is still as it was when I was on your radio program three years ago, and I still hold to a biblical sexual ethic where homosexuality and other forms of sexuality are concerned. But what I think what’s changed for me is, really, the overemphasis on this issue in ways that we don’t emphasize other issues in the church. And specifically, with regards to reparative therapy, that so much of that type of technique and therapy is focused on changing attraction or changing temptation, when I don’t find that there’s a biblical reality that says people will necessarily change their temptations or change their struggles. So I want to be very, very clear about that."

Mr. Chambers also stated that he thought that "praying away the gay" was a lazy approach to a complex problem. He also stated that people that were practicing "reparative therapy" and promising a 100% cure were unrealistic.

No SHIT, Sherlock!

He admitted that he still has same-sex attractions but added that he was in love with his wife and that he didn't act on those cravings - and anyway, that his cravings were always for his wife - and that he was (and this was belligerently said) very much in love with his wife and that he had a very happy marriage. The difference, he also said, was that, while he still had the temptations, he didn't act on them.

In other words - and in my opinion - he didn't say much of anything that couldn't be interpreted as his trying to defend his own personal position on "reparative therapy" (which is that it works some of the time, on some people) but that just because somebody identifies as being GLBT, that God doesn't love them, or that they have no hope of Heaven. He also said that he believes that nurture is more important than nature in how a person is shaped, and who that person turns out to be, be it GLBT or straight.

Here's what I think - and I'm certainly not alone in this - is that Mr. Chambers and his contemptible organization have finally been defeated by the mountains of scientific evidence that we are indeed born with our sexual identities, and that trying to change the hard-wiring that we are born with is an exercise in futility. Of course, over the years, that philosophy of "pray the gay away" and the use of "reparative therapy" had made him and his organization a literal Grand Canyon full of cash. Some of that cash was used to help defeat Prop 8 in California, and to push the individual states' and the FedGov versions of DOMA. which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that GLBT people should never be allowed to marry because after all same-sex unions can't be fruitful and multiply as all people are called to do in the Bible.

Mr. Chambers, in other words, along with all the other so-called christian movements that deny us our civil rights, still believes in the Old Covenant with an angry, vengeful God. He is just going to stop trying to force people into a form that he and the others of his contemptible ilk think we should all fit into. He's trying to cover his and his organization's collective asses. Not only did Mr. Chambers allow, encourage and endorse reparative therapy, Exodus International allowed as well as encouraged its own staff to use personal stories to promote it and their organization. They all LUUUUUUUUUUUUUURVED the sinner, and hated the sin. I still haven't figured out how being a loving, kind, compassionate human being who loves somebody of her/his own sex is sinful. This is pure Old Testament nonsense.

Know what Jesus’ big bugaboo was? Count on it, it was NOT homosexuality. Nope, it was adultery and divorce.

Andy Comiskey of Desert Stream ministries, writing in his book “Pursuing Sexual Wholeness,” called homosexuality “spiritual disfigurement” and believes that “Satan delights in homosexual perversion because it not only exists outside of marriage, but it also defiles God’ very image reflected as male and female…Another related source of demonization is the homosexual relationship itself…That attachment and communion are indeed inspired, but their source is demonic.”

Demonic? REALLY?

However, that's not the worst thing that Exodus International has done. During the height of the AIDS crisis in the early 1908s and continuing through the 1990s, Exodus International purposely used scare tactics to recruit new clients. Fear is a great motivator, after all, and by using this abominable tactic and by subjecting terrified people to what amounted to then, and still amounts to today, public humiliation and private torture. There are a lot of GLBT people that went through the "reparative therapy" process more than once - and some of them wound up dead by their own hands, when they couldn't get rid of their temptations and cravings, as they had been promised would happen if they just prayed enough, were celibate or in a heterosexual relationship no matter how much they hated it.

If there was ever an organization that should be called a domestic terrorist organization, all of the groups that pushed "reparative therapy" should be labeled as such and prosecuted. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. We - and by "we" I mean everybody that finds this sort of thing completely repugnant - should never forget Exodus International's past, or that, no matter what they are saying now, they are leopards that aren't changing their spots, just their rhetoric. There is no way that Alan Chambers should be allowed to cover up Exodus International’s harmful and in a good many cases lethal history of the use of fear, intimidation, brain washing, and anti-gay propaganda since it was founded in 1976.

As I said when our first Black President was elected, I never thought that I'd live long enough to see that day. Now, here's another thing that I never thought I'd live long enough to see: A fundamentalist christian group finally admitting that they were wrong in forcing people to pretend to change, in the name of Christ and for the power of the almighty dollar.

Let's hope that this finally spells the end of that thoroughly debunked method of torture, 'reparative therapy".

Sunday, July 8, 2012

You Must Have an Agent . . . or Not

You Must Have an Agent . . . or Not

Another excellent post from The Passve Guy's blog. Please read and enjoy!

I am HOPING that, one of these days, I will be able to access my blog here again and without posting somebody else's posts. Until then, I've got 2 new blogs up on Word Press: The Thorny Question, and Wilma's Musings.

I HOPE that Google is going to be able to fix the problem - but until then, I'm still on Facebook (Wilma Howe Bennett) and on Word Press (cherose228).

Thank you all for the loyalty that you've shown me over the time I've been posting.

Regards to you all,

Wils

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone?

Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone?

I found this MOST excellent article in my Inbox - all thanks to Passive Guy for sharing it. It is timely and thought-provoking.