Archive for category Human Rights
Terry O’Neill, of NOW, at HuffPo:
You’re making a mistake that is all too common in this debate about reproductive justice and women’s health by conflating two separate conversations.
One is about sex. The other is about health care. Both are important, but they are not the same.
Is it inappropriate for 14-year-old girls to be having sex? Of course it is.
Should parents bite the bullet and have the difficult conversation with their young daughters (and sons) about having sex too young? Of course they should.
But would a responsible parent wish to deny their child urgently needed — potentially life-saving — health care?
Of course they shouldn’t. And not many parents would say they do.
But that’s exactly what they are saying when they conflate the medical conversation about emergency contraception with the personal conversation about teenage sexuality.
Making contraception more difficult to access doesn’t discourage sex, it just makes it riskier. It also punishes the people who least need punishment – teens from poor or dysfunctional families.
I’d like to thank Sheriff Ben Wolfinger for his role in making Utah look much smarter and much less nutty than Idaho. Sheriff Wolfinger is unhappy with the decision by BSA to permit openly gay scouts.
The Kootenai County Sheriff said Friday that he is compelled to drop the department’s Boy Scouts of America charter because the organization is promoting a lifestyle that is against state law.
“It would be inappropriate for the sheriff’s office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law,” Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said.
Sodomy is against the law in Idaho, he added.
Except it’s not:
Idaho’s sodomy law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2003, as a result of the Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102 (U.S. June 26, 2003). Idaho sodomy law applied to both heterosexual and same-sex partners as a “crime against nature,” punishable by imprisonment in state prison for not less than five years.Idaho Code §§ 18-6605 (2001); 18-6606 (2001). The sodomy law did not apply to married heterosexual couples. The Idaho Court of Appeals in Idaho v. Holden, 890 P.2d 341 (Idaho Ct. App. 1995), held that “Idaho’s statute prohibiting the infamous crime against nature may not be constitutionally enforced to prohibit private consensual marital conduct.”
So the Sheriff doesn’t know the law he’s supposed to enforce. And we also need to have a discussion with him about his bigotry. (Thanks to John at Americablog for catching this one.)
I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout but at best a indifferent Boy Scout. I lost interest in scouting after a campout that was a well-intentioned mismanaged fiasco from beginning to end.
BSA have been living in a difficult place for years. They clearly sees themselves as a mainstream organization, modernizing and responding to contemporary society while transmitting time honored values and experiences. They strive to achieve racial and ethnic diversity. The organization updates and adds to its list of possible merit badges to represent changing societal awareness and standards, as for example badges in environmental science, disabilities awareness and game design. At the same time, many of the most fervent supporters of scouting are religious conservatives who perceive the organization as a bulwark of traditional values defending against a rising tide of valueless modernity. The organization’s struggle exemplifies the struggle in American culture. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the take-away from President Obama’s speech today at the National Defense University at Fort McNair, in Washington DC.
The drone surge may finally be over. By some estimates, 98% of drone strike casualties were civilian noncombatants (50 for every one “suspected terrorist”). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report detailing how the CIA deliberately targeted rescuers who show up after an attack, and mourners at funerals as a part of a “double-tap” strategy eerily reminiscent of methods used by terrorist groups like Hamas.
In the months and years ahead, drone strikes once conducted by the CIA will become more of a U.S. military responsibility. The rules for launching the strikes will become stricter — there must be a “near certainty” that no civilians will be killed, for instance — and they’ll become less frequent. “To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective,” Obama said… “is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.”
Yet neither Obama nor senior administration officials ruled out the most controversial aspect of Obama’s counterterrorism measures: so-called signature strikes, in which the CIA does not know the identities of the people it targets, but infers terrorist affiliation based on their observed patterns of behavior.
President Obama says he’s sorry.
Of the civilians who have died in the strikes, Obama said: “For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Of course, the other guys kill civilians too.
“Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes,” he added.
I’ve written about the ways in which many conservatives seem to yearn for yesteryear. This morning, historian Stephanie Coontz offered a fascinating and compelling article in the NY Times on the dangers of nostalgia:
In society at large, however, nostalgia can distort our understanding of the world in dangerous ways, making us needlessly negative about our current situation.[snip]
Happy memories also need to be put in context. I have interviewed many white people who have fond memories of their lives in the 1950s and early 1960s. The ones who never cross-examined those memories to get at the complexities were the ones most hostile to the civil rights and the women’s movements, which they saw as destroying the harmonious world they remembered.
Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.
There’s a major discussion happening right now about sexual assault on college campuses (i.e. it’s made the NY Times; some other posts and articles here, here, here and here). The basic shape of the conversation can be described fairly simply:
Rape and sexual assault are already underreported crimes. Students on college campuses are victims of rape and sexual assault on a regular basis; college campuses nationwide engage in efforts to minimize reporting of sexual assault on campus and take minimal actions against perpetrators. New regulations are shining a light on the situation.
The consensus seems to be that colleges aren’t doing enough to protect students from sexual assault and aren’t doing enough with regard to punishing perpetrators; it seems to me the worst a college can do is expel a perpetrator and even then they run risks they may prefer to avoid. As I think about this issue, it seems that colleges are trying to thread the needle with regard to legal liability – in the absence of specific knowledge about specific threats to a student from/by another student, they can’t take any action; they can’t expel a student because he might rape someone. Without evidence, they can’t punish a student. In many cases, victims can’t identify the perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry »
It certainly took long enough. The new 577-page torture report from The Constitution Project’s bipartisan commission concluded (emphasis added):
The question as to whether U.S. forces and agents engaged in torture has been complicated by the existence of two vocal camps in the public debate. This has been particularly vexing for traditional journalists who are trained and accustomed to recording the arguments of both sides in a dispute without declaring one right and the other wrong. The public may simply perceive that there is no right side, as there are two equally fervent views held views on a subject, with substantially credentialed people on both sides. In this case, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that among those who insist that the United States did not engage in torture are figures who served at the highest levels of government, including Vice President Dick Cheney.
But this Task Force is not bound by this convention.
The members, coming from a wide political spectrum, believe that arguments that the nation did not engage in torture and that much of what occurred should be defined as something less than torture are not credible.
Now that a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel has reached the conclusion that President George W. Bush and his top advisers bear “ultimate responsibility” for authorizing torture in violation of domestic and international law, the question becomes what should the American people and their government do.
The logical answer would seem to be: prosecute Bush and his cronies (or turn them over to an international tribunal if the U.S. legal system can’t do the job). After all, everyone, including President Barack Obama and possibly even Bush himself, would agree with the principle that “no man is above the law.”
Interestingly enough, Section 3286 of the USA PATRIOT Act effectively abolished the statute of limitations for torture.
The U.N. Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan in 1988, compels all signatories who discover credible allegations that government officials have participated or been complicit in torture to “submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution” (Art. 7(1)).
The disgrace of the American torture regime falls on Bush officials and secondarily the media and political institutions that acquiesced to it, but the full-scale protection of those war crimes (and the denial of justice to their victims) falls squarely on the Obama administration.
I am about out of energy for this week. But I do have the smoking remains of an irony meter sitting in the corner crying to be heard. And a tiny little mangled… something. Something Confucius might have called Ren. Something I almost forgot about. Read the rest of this entry »
I have a new hero. Fantastic speech out of kiwi-land that shows that you can be a good person, in government, and even have a sense of humor.
Wish we could move him to Utah!
But in this case, past tragedy. Tragedy not usually experienced as widely as as it could be, or was in the past.
That’s not saying it couldn’t happen again to anybody, but you know what they say:
Humor is the best medicine:
I’ve highlighted the idea that US politics are driven as much by historical cultural forces as by contemporary ones. Colin Woodward’s eleven nations thesis argues that the US is divided into 11 distinct cultural areas which align themselves in a series of shifting alliances and thus shift and move national political power. Certain longstanding alliances (Yankeedom, the Left Coast and the Midlands on the one hand and the Deep South, Tidewater and Greater Appalachia endured for decades). Woodward summed up his thesis:
The Tea Party agenda may hold sway over large parts of the South and interior West, and with the economy and the president in such a weakened state a Tea Party favorite like Rick Perry could conceivably win the White House. But the movement has no hope of truly dominating the country. Our underlying and deeply fractured political geography guarantees that it will never marshal congressional majorities; indeed, it almost guarantees that the movement will be marginalized, its power and influence on the wane and, over large swaths of the nation, all but extinguished.
Woodard’s argument is that South is not a unified region – it consists of multiple cultural areas that have a long standing tradition of allegiance – Michael Lind’s Chesapeake Bay area is part of the Tidewater region
Tidewater has always been fundamentally conservative, with a high value placed on respect for authority and tradition, and very little on equality or public participation in politics.
Tidewater is a nation in decline as the Midlands have taken over sizable portions of Tidewater (think of Northern Virginia for a good example). Read the rest of this entry »