American Rhetoric: Some Thoughts on the Democratic Sit-In for Gun Legislation

House Dems Sit-In

House Democrats announce their “occupation” of the floor.

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Congressman Mark Walker, and the Republican leadership. My apologies…NAH!

     Today, I can say that I am proud to be a Democrat, because yesterday, I witnessed my party’s leaders make history. Starting at around 11:00 A.M. EDST, several House Democrats, led by the civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, staged an unprecedented “sit-in”, effectively taking over control of the House floor. This sit-in was precipitated by the recent tragedy in Orlando, at the Pulse nightclub, where a lone gunman killed 49 members of the LGBT(QI) community, before being killed by responding officers.

     In the wake of this mass shooting, which has been referred to in the media as the “worst mass shooting in U.S. history”, as with previous tragedies such as Sandy Hook and Aurora, national discourse on firearms legislation and control has risen to fever pitch; however nothing of significance ever seems to get accomplished. It was this angst that prompted members of the House Democratic Caucus to take the extraordinary step of staging yesterday’s “sit-in.”

     John Lewis is no stranger to things like sit-ins. The 76-year-old Troy, Alabama native was an integral part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, having been one of the 13 original “Freedom Riders”, and leading the march across the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma in 1965. If anyone in congress was up to the task of putting together something like this, it was John Lewis. According to Lewis, the sit-in was not made known to the leadership. (I’ll comment a bit more on Lewis a bit later down the page!)

     At approximately 11:00 A.M., John Lewis was recognized by the chair, took the floor of the house, and issued the following statement:

     Thus started what would eventually become a 25-hour-long protest by House Democrats, over the Republican majority’s reluctance to allow a vote on two pieces of legislation; a “No Fly, No Buy” bill, which would prevent people on the government’s “No Fly” list from purchasing firearms, and a bill to close loopholes in the background check process where it pertains to online and gun show purchases. Both of the bills that Democrats were seeking a vote on, incidentally, are bipartisan authored bills. With their intent to force the Republican majority to allow a floor vote on these bills, or be held over with no holiday break, Democrats employed the rallying cry of, “No Bill, No Break!” The Republican chair was forced to adjourn the House once the Democrats took the floor.

     One of the more significant hurdles that the Democrats had to overcome, was the absence of media coverage of the sit-in protest. This was due to the House Majority’s control of the cameras and microphones in the House chamber. The Republican leadership had these shut off when the chair adjourned the House, much to the chagrin of the Democrats. No worries, though! As it turns out, there’s an app for that! Enter “Periscope”, and social media feeds from Congressmen Eric Swalwell (D-CA 15th), Scott Peters (D-CA 52nd), and Beto O’Rourke (D-TX 16th). Because of this, C-SPAN was able to broadcast the sit-in in its entirety, albeit with the occasional video glitch due to the nature of streaming video from a smartphone.

Jim Costa

My congressman, Jim Costa (D-CA 16) speaks.

     During the day-long sit-in, several Democrats took to the podium at the front of the House chamber, rallying their fellow Dems and outlining the many reasons for both the sit-in, and the need for tighter laws on firearms purchases, with the pictures and names of the many victims of gun violence in America as both their backdrop, and constant source of motivation, along with signs reading, “Disarm Hate.”

     The Republicans, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, eventually used a parliamentary procedure to call an early recess, then left for the July 4th break in the wee hours of the morning, without even an acknowledgment of the issue. In fact, Speaker Ryan referred to the Democratic sit-in as merely a “publicity stunt.” This left the Democrats basically on their own in D.C.

     John Lewis and the House Democrats ended their sit-in at around noon on Thursday, the 23rd of June, with Congressman Lewis stating that their “struggle” was far from over, vowing to return from the holiday break and once again take up the issue. Lewis was the last one to speak. What began with Congressman Lewis, ended with Congressman Lewis, that courageous and noble gentleman from Georgia’s 5th congressional district.

     I find myself left with both a strong sense of pride in my party, and an equally strong sense of disgust at the statements and behavior of House Republicans. At various times during the Democrats’ occupation of the House floor, Republicans alternately heckled, laughed at, and yelled at the Democrats on the floor. During all of this, however, my party’s representatives maintained an overall sense of decorum and restraint. They did us proud, getting into what Congressman Lewis referred to as, “good trouble.”

     One of the more ironic things that came up during the protest, was when Southern Baptist preacher-come-Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC 6th) attempted to engage in a bit of “whitesplaining”, tweeting that;

Calling this a sit-in is a disgrace to Woolworth’s. They sat-in for rights. Dems are “sitting-in” to strip them away.

     I think that it’s a pretty “twunt” move, presuming to tell a civil rights icon about the civil rights movement, especially when the significantly younger Walker wasn’t even born until May of 1969, almost ten whole years after the Woolworth’s lunch counter protest.

     Once again, I am a proud Democrat. I’m proud of my party, proud of my congressional rep, and proud of my President. I also have my own opinions on things like the “No Fly” list, disallowing people on that list from purchasing weapons, and closing loopholes. Instead of going into that here, I’ll pen individual articles on each one, links to be found here soon! (Suffice it to say that this particular piece has indeed migrated towards the “TLDR” end of the spectrum!)

     #SickAndTiredofBeingSickAndTired #NoFlyNoBuy #CloseTheLoopholes #DisarmHate

(Jim) Crowing – An Open Letter To Al Melvin and The Arizona State Government

LISTEN UP, ARIZONA.

LISTEN UP, ARIZONA.

     Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a bone to pick with you. It concerns a bill that has passed the Arizona state legislature, and now sits on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk, awaiting either her affirming “Jane Hancock,” or her veto. You know which bill I’m referring to; SB 1062. It has been referred to in the media as the “Arizona Anti-Gay Bill.”

     Just this morning, I watched a short clip of an interview between CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and state senator Al Melvin. Mr. Melvin, I have a question for you: why could you not answer a simple question regarding discrimination? As Mr. Cooper noted, you have declared your intent to run in that state’s next gubernatorial race, and as he noted, you were unable (or unwilling!) to answer a single question with regards to possible discrimination issues involving people in your state.

     Mr. Melvin, SB 1062 has absolutely nothing to do with religious freedom, and you know it. It pertains to commerce. Commerce, as you are (hopefully) well aware, is a matter of profit and loss. Religious practice, on the other hand, is a matter of espousing and expressing faith in a particular ideology and / or deity. As most church establishments are 501(c)(3) non profit endeavors, there seems to be a marked difference between them, and say, a bakery or florist shop. Apparently, you are confused as to the divisions and restrictions of each type of establishment, and where the two should and shouldn’t be intertwined.

     Mr. Melvin, how exactly does one such as yourself get to be a state senator, with such decidedly bigoted values and views? Navy War College? Were you good at that? Perhaps you should go back to that, because you’re a dismal failure as a representative of the populous. I have little doubt that there are thousands of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual constituents in your state, that are looking at you and shaking their collective heads.

     Let’s leave my apparent angst for Al Melvin to the side for a second, and address this ill-conceived piece of legislation. SB 1067 is problematic in a number of ways. For one, it would require business owners to make a declarative statement with regards to their religious proclivities against serving members of the LGBT community. This harkens back to the days of Jim Crow laws, where businesses would display signs that read, “No Coloreds Allowed,” or “Whites Only.” I’m assuming that any declaration must be posted, as a business license must, in a conspicuous place. I foresee this as being akin to a “scarlet letter,” and here’s why. Let’s say I am a consumer, and I walk in to a store with one of these signs posted near the register. As a supporter of the LGBT community, I am not even going to bother looking for the merchandise that I’m seeking, not in this store. I see the label, I acknowledge it for the bigotry that it is, and I turn and leave. The business loses revenue.

     In addition, the bill is unconstitutional. It is nothing short of state-sanctioned discrimination against an entire group of people, based solely on their sexual preference. Should Governor Brewer sign this piece of legislation into law, it will assuredly result in millions of dollars being spent by the state to defend it against rightful challenges to its constitutionality. In other words, Arizona; this one’s gonna cost ya!

     Speaking of costing ya, I hear that none other than the denizens of One Infinite Loop, Apple, Incorporated, have expressed concern over the bill, and its possible impact on any decision to abandon its Sapphire Glass plant in Mesa. Jan! Hey, Jan? Are you hearing this? Tim Cook and Apple will likely hit your state right in the wallet, should you dare affix your signature to this!

     I guess it all comes down to one question, folks; what’s in your wallet!? At any rate, it’s like the latest memes say. We’ve already had this discussion, and you cannot discriminate against a particular demographic who wish to sit at the lunch counter.

Life and Living: Real, Real, Really Real

     I’m going to start this article off by saying that I haven’t sat down and penned anything in a “really” long time. My last article was published back in late November, and since then I have been pretty much dialed in to taking care of IRL issues during the holiday season. Now that 2014 is here and the holidays are over…well, allons-y!

What is "real"?

What is “real”?

     A friend of mine posted the picture on the right to her Facebook wall, and it duly showed up on my newsfeed. More than anything else, it gave me a few moments of pause, causing me to start thinking about what “reality” is, and how we perceive and relate to it. It occurs to me, that there is not one, but two types of “reality”; subjective reality, and objective reality.

     Take for instance, my opening statement. My application of the term “really” is meant to attach an immenseness to the actual quantity of time that has elapsed since my last article was published. However! What might seem like a “really” long time to me, may not seem so long to another observer. In this case the reality is subjective, based upon the perspective from which it is being observed. Another example would be my observation of say, a rose. While I may see the rose as being red, someone who is color-blind may see it as being a shade of blue. Which color is “real”? To them, the rose is really blue, while to me, it is red. Does this difference in observation render their observation any less valuable than my own?

     Conversely, there are things that exist that, no matter who observes them, everyone will agree that they are real. Gravity, for example. Regardless of who observes it, gravity still pulls all things down to Earth at a uniform 32 feet per second, squared. (Now, I know that this brings up the argument of our standards of measurement, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that 32′ /sec2 is universally true, where the Earth is concerned.) The point being, that the force of gravity is real, and can be proven across multiple disciplines and (rational) schools of thought.

     I have a ginormous issue. It has to do with the penchant on the part of some, to try applying the term “real” to ideas, institutions and concepts, in order to impose their own beliefs on these things. A “real” American. A “real” Christian. A “real” man. (Word to the wiser amongst you, my fine, young readers! Whenever anyone presents this “No True Scotsman” statement as a representation of fact, it should set off alarm bells in your rational thinking centers!) Take the picture above. According to the creator of the meme, a “real” man is monogamous, devoted and, most importantly, heterosexual. Anything else, and the man is not “real.” So, a man like George Takei, who has devoted his love and life to another man, is not “real” according to the meme’s standards. Likewise, someone who truly loves, and is devoted to two women…a polygamist, (as allowable in Islam) is not “real” according to the meme.

     The idea that I’m attempting to get across to you all, what I’m saying, (if I’m saying anything) is to exercise a modicum of caution when attempting to present your own opinions. Sure, we’re all entitled to possess our own opinions, but that doesn’t necessarily elevate them to the status of being factual. Wikipedia defines “reality” as:

“…the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.”

     In other words, “id est quod id est.” (“It is what it is.”) Any standards that someone might seek to impose on it, regardless of what “it” may be, are subjective. (Which circles back to my observation on gravity, which we can get into in another article!)

Truth, Stranger Than Fiction: Arab States Deploying New Weapon To Combat Homosexuality

Somewhere, over the rainbow...

Somewhere, over the rainbow…

     Just when we thought that the antics of nations couldn’t get any more amusing than the continuing “dramarama” of “Iran-diana Kim and The Quest For Nukes,” along comes something that makes us cry out, “Seriously!?”

     According to several news sources, including the U.K. Daily Mail (1) and Israel’s Arutz Sheva (2), the small Arab nation of Kuwait has announced plans to research development of the world’s first medical “gaydar,” in a misguided, if somewhat comical attempt to prevent LGBT expatriates from entering the country. (You’ve got to hand it to Iran and north Korea in light of this, at least they’re equal opportunity haters; nuclear weapons deny life and liberties indiscriminately!)

     During a recent interview with Arabic newspaper Al Rai, Director of Public Health for Kuwait’s health ministry, Yousuf Mindkar, stated that a central committee would be set up to discuss the proposed “gay testing,” when it (the ministry) meets in November. In addition, Mindkar suggested that the testing could be introduced in all other Gulf Cooperation Countries, which include:

  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

     So in other words, Kuwait is not only seeking the proverbial “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” it is also proposing to share the spoils with the rest of the GCC class. Of the nations listed above, all of them have laws against homosexual behavior, with Saudi Arabia meting out the harshest penalty (death) for homosexuals.

     With strains of Bob Hope’s “Thanks For The Memories” droning on in the background, this Desert Storm veteran is suddenly compelled to reflect back on the year 1991. It was during 1991, that a U.S.-led coalition entered Kuwait, and drove Sadaam Hussein’s invading forces out, thereby reinstating Kuwait’s and the Kuwaitis’ freedom from Iraqi oppression. Now, twenty-two years later, what have they done to honor that debt? Have they developed a cure for AIDS? A cure for Cancer? How about Alzheimers? Nope, they want to develop medical “gaydar,” and restrict / deny the freedoms of an entire group of people. Gee Kuwait, thanks for the memories.

Faith and Religion: Rift-fail-A

Here we go again…

     As the debate regarding Chick-fil-A rages on in multiple venues, it also seems to be taking on several additional layers. You see, onions have layers…ogres have layers (a nod to “Shrek” there!)…and this is one “ogre” of a debate to be sure!

     I recently became embroiled in one such debate over at Facebook, (Again with the Facebook drama!) with regard to the concept of “separation of church and state.” I asserted (and still assert) that it’s there, enshrined in the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution. In support of this position, I provided evidence via Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, along with SCOTUS case references, where the highest court in our land has applied the concept…

     It boggles the mind. Some Fundamentalists can be so unbending, so willfully ignorant that the attempt to reason with them and show them irrefutable proofs of something becomes an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, I ran smack into one such person. Now, in the interests of keeping everything on the “up and up,” I refer you, my fine young readers, to the following thread for the entire dialogue / exchange. The names have been blurred to protect the “innocent”…

     I’m hoping at this point, that this hasn’t taken on a “TLDR” (Too long, didn’t read) aspect for you all. As a proponent of both marriage equality and the necessary separations between church and state, and a vociferous opponent of religious intolerance, I thought it imperative to show just how deep in denial some can be. After two more replies which basically amounted to the “sticking the fingers in the ears and going “LALALALA”” approach, I ended it. I had to, as it was becoming far too painful of a “limo-wreck” to bear witness to;

“If you’re going to deny the existence of the moon, you have no right to opine about the tides.”

     The thread pretty much says it all. There is a willful disconnect from reality going on within some sectors of the church, an obstinate refusal to see the truth. It is obfuscated by stained glass and deafening praise music…and it is dangerous. If one wants to see the prime example of exactly what happens when a group of people take this type of thinking to the extreme, one has no further to look than to the beginning of this millennium to see the painful truth…

American Rhetoric: A Game of Political Chicken, or, The Ballad of Abby Farle

Chick-fil-A versus Marriage Equality

     Well, after a months-long hiatus from writing, I’m back at it. Nouns here, verbs there, a preposition or two…let the wordsmithing commence!

     I’m not really sure just where to begin with this one. Suffice it to say that it’s a mess; a political food fight which is unfolding in the debate regarding marriage equality. By the title alone, most of you probably already know who the subject of this long overdue article is; Chick-fil-A. First, please allow me to give you, my ever-appreciated, fine young readers, a little background to the story…

     First established in 1946 as “Dwarf House” by S. Truett Cathy in Hapeville, Georgia, and then re-branded and opened as Chick-fil-A in 1967 in Atlanta, the restaurant chain has grown to over 1,600 locations in 39 states, as well as future plans for locations in Mexico and the Philippines. Founder S. Truett Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist, whose religious views are reflected in the manner in which the Chick-fil-A business is run; the entire chain is closed on Sundays, and according to President and COO Dan Cathy’s bio page on the Chick-fil-A website, their stated corporate purpose is to, “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”(1)

     Within the scope of this “divine mission”, Cathy et. al. have also established “WinShape”, a foundation from which charitable donations are channeled to various faith-based interests. According to a July 5th article at Business Insider, in 2010 WinShape doled out charitable donations totalling 2 million dollars, including 1.1 million to the Marriage and Family Foundation, one thousand dollars to the Family Research Council and two thousand, five hundred dollars to the Georgia Family Council.(2) Notably, each and every one of these charities is opposed to the concept of same-sex marriage.

     Now, we arrive at the current controversy swirling around Chick-fil-A. Between two interviews given to the Baptist Press and the Ken Coleman Show, Dan Cathy shared his thoughts on both the operation of the restaurant chain, and on same-sex marriage. From the July 16th Baptist Press interview:

    “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that”(3)

    In the Ken Coleman Show interview, he stated:

    “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”(4)

     Now, up to this point, Chick-fil-A had been in a partnership with the Jim Henson Company to develop and market toys for the restaurant’s kids’ meals. The Jim Henson Company, creators of the puppets of Sesame Street, The Muppets and Fraggle Rock, has now broken ties with Chick-fil-A over their stance on marriage equality, and issued the following statement on July 20th, via their Facebook page:

     The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.  Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.  (http://www.glaad.org/)(5)

Posted at a Chick-fil-A location in Plano, Texas

     Within hours, a public relations fiasco took shape. A Chick-fil-A in Plano, Texas posted a recall notice dated to July 19th, stating that the toys had been voluntarily recalled, due to possible safety issues.(6) (7) Meanwhile, a debate was taking place on the Chick-fil-A page at Facebook. At some point within the last week since the announcements by both Chick-fil-A and the Jim Henson Company, a user named “Chris” initiated a discussion thread with the following post:

     “Admit it, Chick-fil-A: you stopped carrying Jim Henson’s puppets as kids meal toys because you got dumped for being bigots, not because some kids “got their fingers stuck.””(8)

     At some point in the thread, a user named Abby Farle posted the following reply:

     “It was taken back weeks before any of this…check your info Chris…John 3:16”

The infamous Abby Farle thread

     Later in the thread, a user named “Robert” noted that the Abby Farle account had been created a mere eight hours before the post, inferred that this account was in fact a “sock puppet” for Chick-fil-A Public Relations, (sorry, but Chick-fil-A will never be as good at puppetry as Jim Henson!) and pointed out that the Abby Farle profile picture was actually a generic stock photo from Shutterstock.com, of a teenaged girl. Once this post was made, “Abby Farle” disappeared back into the mist. Since then, Chick-fil-A has denied any involvement in the Abby Farle situation.

     In the midst of this public relations quagmire, Don Perry, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of public relations, died suddenly on the 27th due to a heart attack.(9)

     [SOAPBOX=ON] Now that we have an overall view of what’s been happening, the opining can commence. First of all, I think that this whole thing is a “tempest in a teacup.” If Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A want to run their business in the way they see fit, then as long as it’s legal, I say go for it. Those of us that support marriage equality don’t absolutely have to spend our money at Chick-fil-A. There are several other restaurants out there, even ones that are run by people based in Christian faith such as In-N-Out Burger, that haven’t crossed ideological swords with other groups or people. Let’s spend our money at those establishments instead. The point is…we have a choice here.

     As far as the mess with Chick-fil-A and Abby Farle, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that it was someone from Chick-fil-A’s PR wing (chicken?) that created the account. It’s also quite possible that this was done by an opponent of the chain, in order to further discredit them. It’s also possible that it was Chick-fil-A. We just don’t know.

     As for the toy recall, I find the timing of Chick-fil-A’s “safety recall” extremely suspicious. One has to know that the decision to break ties with the chain wasn’t undertaken and announced within just a few hours. I suspect that there were a plethora of “back-and-forth” phone and e-mail discussions between Chick-fil-A and the Jim Henson Company, beginning shortly after Dan Cathy’s July 16th statements. A decision was definitely arrived at, most likely around the 18th or 19th of July, and the Henson Facebook announcement was posted the following day.

     What’s become clear in this imbroglio, is that Chick-fil-A has done something that no fast food chain should do, especially if it wants to maintain its profit margin in today’s struggling economy; get its self embroiled in a political “hot button” issue.

The Cybersattva: Politics In A Nutshell

     With over 100 posted articles, I can see how some of my politics might have become fuzzy to some of my readers. It is with this in mind, that I’ve decided to write this article, outlining some of my positions and beliefs regarding social and political issues. Now, given that my fine young readers (yes, I know I use this descriptive quite often, however it’s not at all meant to be patronising; I really do appreciate all of you!) have had the opportunity to read through the many posts here, you will know that I am vociferously pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice and pro-establishment clause. What lies below is basically a statement of my politics, in a nutshell! So, on to it, shall we?

     I believe in the equal protections and rights under the laws of this country, for everyone. As is stated at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance, “…with liberty, and justice, for ALL.” Period. That doesn’t mean “…with liberty and justice for all, except those sexually deviant homos!” No, I’d like to believe that I’m a bit more rational and open-minded than all of that. Therefore, I am again, definitely pro-marriage equality.(1) (2) (3)

     I believe that our borders need to be secure. Given the events surrounding and subsequent to September 11th of 2001, I feel that our government has been sorely remiss in its duty to its citizenry, by ensuring that the nation’s borders are safeguarded. In addition to this, our interactions with other nations have been problematic, at best. Shortly after 9-11, we embroiled ourselves in a protracted war in Iraq, one that was engaged in under false pretenses, managed haphazardly and left with too many ends untied. Geo-politics and national security are inexorably joined at the hip, if you will, and it is imperative that our government come to a greater realisation of that fact.(4) (5) (6)

     I believe that any discussion regarding Roe v. Wade must include the woman. It has been the practice of the fundamentalists to continuously debate women’s rights, focusing solely on the fetus and completely disregarding the simple question, “What about the woman?” I have also noticed that the majority of people engaging in this exclusionary approach to the debate are men. I find this to be disgustingly chauvinistic, bordering at times on misogyny. The fight for women’s rights is far from over, but I have taken up the pen / keyboard, and vow to do my level best to further this cause!

     Likewise, I believe that the issue of women’s health, as recently highlighted by the shake-ups at the Komen Foundation, needs to be delivered from the demon of politicisation. If we have the ability to fund organisations and offices to do proper breast screenings, then let’s do that and keep the politics to a minimum! (Kudos to Komen for finally coming to their senses!)(7) (8)

     I believe in the necessary separation of church and state. Our government is a Republic, and not a Theocracy. It was never meant to be a Theocracy. Our founding fathers knew this instinctively, hence the reason for things like the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, enumerated in the first amendment. Thomas Jefferson knew this, and it was he that coined the phrase “separation of church and state” in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. As a result, I have taken an active position against Dominionism. (The active attempts of organised religion to influence the policies and politics of the state.)(9)

     As long as we’re talking U.S. Constitution, I also believe in the right of the people to bear arms, as enumerated in the second amendment.

     I believe that our educational systems are broken, on a herculean scale. No Child Left Behind was a good idea, but has since been taken into bad places. In addition, the arrogance and ignorance of select persons within the compulsory education system has all too often resulted in catastrophic failure, as has recently been witnessed in such places as Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, where it became necessary to remove the entire staff of a school due to the demon of child molestation.

     Our nation’s colleges are not much better, specifically community colleges. Little more than money-pits, it has become quite commonplace for students to be “wait-listed” for courses that they require to complete a degree, for entire courses to be cancelled from the schedule and for counselors to approach their jobs with a “Laissez-faire,” devil-may-care attitude. In short, the nation needs to fix this broken down hulk. We the people need to sit down with our legislators, and come up with a viable, sustainable plan to enact real change.(10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15)

     Ladies and gentlemen, these are just the highlights. I’ve addressed all of these in various articles throughout the past six months, and I would encourage each of you to follow the superscript links to read those individual pieces. If you agree with what I’ve stated here, then please feel free to comment! If you disagree, then by all means, let’s engage in some dialogue, because it is only through meaningful communication and discussion of the issues, that anything meaningful will be accomplished!

The Chaser: Marriage Moves Closer To Equality

Another victory for Marriage Equality in the US

     “Tuesday’s child is full of grace…”

     Immediately on the heels of news regarding Komen, comes another related item that spells trouble for the conservative agenda in the United States. In a 2 – 1 decision by a three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a lower court’s 2010 ruling on California Proposition 8’s unconstitutionality has been upheld. The lower court ruled in 2010 that the voter-approved measure infringed on the civil rights of the LGBT community. In its ruling today, the panel’s majority position stated that;

    “Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

     Attorneys representing the supporters of Proposition 8, along with the two couples that have petitioned the courts to overturn the ban, have both said that they would follow the appeals process, all the way up to SCOTUS if they did not receive a favorable ruling in the matter.(1)

     This news follows Washington state’s pending adoption of new legislation that would legalise same-sex marriage. Last week, the state senate passed the legislation in a 28 – 21 vote. This week, the bill will go through the state’s House of Representatives, where passage has been claimed to be likely according to state senator Ed Murray, the bill’s sponsor. Washington state governor Christine Gregoire has stated that she would sign the bill into law if it arrives on her desk. Opponents to Marriage Equality may challenge the bill if it becomes law, with a push to bring the question before voters in November.(2)

     Likewise, the Los Angeles-based gay rights group Love, Honor, Cherish has plans to start gathering signatures for a November ballot initiative geared toward repealing Proposition 8.

     In this writer’s own humble opinion, a defeat of Proposition 8 must result in a re-evaluation of DOMA’s own constitutionality. If SCOTUS upholds that any provision in state laws that limits marriage to “one man and one woman” is a violation of the civil rights of LGBT citizens, then the Defense of Marriage Act cannot be upheld either. Once DOMA is put in its rightful place, (six feet under!) then real progress in the battle for LGBT equal rights can be realised.

LGBT Issues: The Precursors of Hate, Deconstructed

     (It should be noted that since this article was published, Shima Uma’s actual age range was narrowed down to the mid-40’s. An appropriate update was added to the tail of the article.)

     Long before I started this weblog, I made the conscious decision not to use it to falsely attack or defame any single person. Defamation is one of those things that I tend to take very seriously; not only due to the legal ramifications, but also because I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, unless they’re a public figure that has said or done something so against the grain that it has already been vetted out in the mainstream media. Then again, calling someone out who is not a public figure, over publicly posted statements on a publicly viewable Facebook page is another matter entirely…

     I’m going to break with my rule regarding a focus on private citizens, and I’m doing this for a good reason; to expose the mindset behind the issue of bullying and intolerance where LGBT youth are concerned. The person whose comments I will be exposing, parsing and refuting here is a Facebook user named “Shima Uma.” Since there are several Shima Umas listed on Facebook, some degree of anonymity will be maintained. In addition to this, in an unusual step for The Cybersattva weblog, I will be posting the actual screenshots of this user’s comments so that everyone who reads this article will know that I am not simply making any of this up. (I will also be using linked text source citations, as opposed to the customary superscript notations.)

     The important thing to keep in mind here is the differentiation between out-and-out “Homophobia” and simple, uninformed youthful ignorance. Shima Uma fits into the category of the latter, being a young (possibly even high-school aged) female. A quick perusal of her Facebook page reveals a conservative bent on issues. Within the past day, she has posted several comments to the Support Viki Knox page on Facebook. Let’s begin by observing what she has to say regarding the LGBT community on the whole;

Simplified: LGBT people are “warped.”

     From the point of view of the “traditionalist” or conservative crowd, there’s just something “not right” about LGBT people, something that the former does not understand about the latter. It has been my observation (and experience, I still remember what it was like to be young!) that youth tend to be far more reactionary than rational, given to basal instincts and behavior(s). Fear of the unknown is a basal instinct, one that has played a significant role in the survival of humans throughout our time on this “big blue marble.” As a response to this fear, we have developed the “fight or flight” reaction. If we think we have a strong advantage over that which we fear, we attack it. If we doubt the advantage, we flee. Since words and ideas are easier to fight with, verbal and typographical attacks become the default reaction in this case. For the uninformed, the only way to possibly overcome this fear / attack cycle is through information and enlightenment.

You gotta be cruel to be kind?

     Shima posted these words from her perspective; that others who were angered by what she was positing on the page were posting things about her, that she was “telling the truth” and that since she wasn’t about to be “hurt by their meanness,” she blocked the respondant(s). In fact, the same can be said about her initial statements; that she was posting things about people and a concept that she was attacking, even in the face of these people (the LGBT community) being truthful, and that these people could be quite hurt by her meanness.

     Now let’s look at some of the “truths” that she posits:

Thank God, we've found a cure!

     Having googled this, I found several conservative websites that posit this misconception, including WND (formerly WorldNet Daily) and Hobbs Ministries. Again, this is a case of willful ignorance being propagated to the uninformed youth. While it is true that abstinence may slow the spread of many STDs including HIV, it is not a “cure” per se, since a cure would also be applicable to those already infected with the virus. Also, there are several other vectors for transmission of STDs other than intercourse, including blood transfusion, intravenous drug use and incidental blood-blood contact (e.g., a “good samaritan” in the same vehicle accident as a poz person assists that person without either knowing that the poz person is in fact poz, by whatever means.) Oh, but don’t take my word as gospel folks, these facts can also be readily found online, in such places as the UK Coalition website.

     Shima also makes the assumption (something she holds as being “truth”) that all gay people are sexually active. This also, is not entirely accurate. She goes on in the same thread to explain the origins of the HIV virus…or more accurately, her misguided assumptions as to its origins;

A new version of the "Monkey Trial"?

     Let’s get this straight. According to our resident “expert” (keeping in mind that an “ex” is a has-been, and a “spurt” is a drip under pressure!) Shima Uma, HIV happened because a man had intercourse with a monkey, and that’s a “fact.” (Pardon me at this point, fine young readers, while I snee…..ah…ah….BULLSH**! Sorry, I’m just highly allergic to bullsh**.) Given the behavior of simians in the wild, I find this extremely unlikely, and so do several established authorities in such fields as Anthropology and Epidemiology. The leading theory (and it’s all “best guess,” since we weren’t there to witness the event!) is that the practice of “Bushmeat hunting” caused the transmission of the SIV virus between simians and man, at which point SIV mutated into HIV. (HIV has been traced back to the SIV virus.) Applying the principle of “Occam’s Razor” (latin: lex parsimoniae) in this case seems not only prudent, but also feasible. As before, please do not take my word as gospel…instead see the correlating data here, and here.

     Also evident in the above thread is the degree of Shima Uma’s committment to her lie (yes, let’s call a spade a spade at this point!) in that she will go so far as to actively block those who disagree, thereby willfully disregarding any evidence that contradicts or debunks the lie. It is at this point, that true homophobia starts to emerge. Youthful ignorance crosses over into willful ignorance, which precludes the possibility of rational thought. As we all know from previous discussion on the topic, homophobia is an “extreme or irrational fear or aversion to homosexuals and / or homosexuality.”

     Being as Shima Uma is still young, I don’t blame her entirely for this saddening display of utter ignorance. I blame the people that are providing her examples. I blame her parents, her teachers and her role models. I blame the people who are providing the rhetoric and talking points that she’s drawing from, to form the opinions (not facts!) that she has formed. The thing to pity here, is that this young woman will quite likely go on to pass these misconceptions and prejudices on to the next generation.

     Update, 07 February: Prod someone enough, and they’ll let on a bit more as to who they are. It seems that Shima Uma is actually in her forties! (A forty-something female who is also a ComicCon fan and plays D&D?) Reading her posts since this article was published, it becomes even more evident that this person is entrenched in the mire of willful ignorance and discriminatory language where the LGBT community is concerned. Sadly, homophobia has claimed another victim.