Kansas Senate Comes To It’s Senses And Nixes Extreme Anti-Gay (Jim Crow) Legislation [politicususa.net]

kansassealBy: Justin Baragona / politicususa.net
The Kansas Senate decided on Friday that they would kill the legislation that was passed earlier this week by the state’s House of Representatives. The bill, known as House Bill 2453,would have opened the door to widespread segregation and discrimination of those in the LGBT community. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly Republican, passed the bill with ease by a vote of 72-49. It was assumed that with a large majority in the state’s Senate and the extremely conservative Sam Brownback as Governor, the legislation was going to fly through and become law.

Well, something happened along the way. Perhaps it was the fact that the law made national headlines and had a lot of blowback. Or maybe it was due to what Andrew Sullivan wrote on Friday regarding what the law would do for the LGBT community. In his column, Sullivan accurately noted that passing a law that so blatantly discriminates gays and treats them like second-class citizens would inevitably be the death knell for the religious right in its attempt to prevent the advancement of gay rights.

Basically, by going forward with this, the gay community could rightly point to this law and compare it to the Jim Crow laws of the South. It also would have an avalanche effect on the GOP, as young voters would be turned off by them for good due to their penchant for bigotry. Sullivan nailed it with the following paragraph:

If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it. Some critics have reacted to this law with the view that it is an outrageous new version of Jim Crow and a terrifying portent of the future for gays in some red states. It is both of those. It’s the kind of law that Vladimir Putin would enthusiastically support. But it is also, to my mind, a fatal mis-step for the movement to keep gay citizens in a marginalized, stigmatized place.

Religious fundamentalism could soon be treated as mental illness [digitaljournal.com]

by John Thomas Didymus / digitaljournal.com
Kathleen Taylor, a neurologist at Oxford University, said that recent developments suggest that we will soon be able to treat religious fundamentalism and other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society as a form of mental illness.

She made the assertion during a talk at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday. She said that radicalizing ideologies may soon be viewed not as being of personal choice or free will but as a category of mental disorder. She said new developments in neuroscience could make it possible to consider extremists as people with mental illness rather than criminals.

She told The Times of London: “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated. Someone who has for example become radicalized to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.”

Taylor admits that the scope of what could end up being labelled “fundamentalist” is expansive. She continued: “I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults. I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorized as mental illness. In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm.”

The Huffington Post reports Taylor warns about the moral-ethical complications that could arise.

In her book “The Brain Supremacy,” she writes of the need “to be careful when it comes to developing technologies which can slip through the skull to directly manipulate the brain. They cannot be morally neutral, these world-shaping tools; when the aspect of the world in question is a human being, morality inevitably rears its hydra heads. Technologies which profoundly change our relationship with the world around us cannot simply be tools, to be used for good or evil, if they alter our basic perception of what good and evil are.”

The moral-ethical dimension arises from the predictable tendency when acting on the problem, armed with a new technology, to apply to the label “fundamentalist” only to our ideological opponents, while failing to perceive the “fundamentalism” in ourselves.

From the perspective of the Western mind, for instance, the tendency to equate “fundamentalism” exclusively with radical Islamism is too tempting. But how much less “fundamentalist” than an Osama bin Laden is a nation of capitalist ideologues carpet bombing civilian urban areas in Laos, Cambodia and North Korea?

The jihadist’s obsession with defending his Islamic ideological world view which leads him to perpetrate and justify such barbaric acts as the Woolwich murder are of the same nature as the evangelical obsession with spreading the pseudo-religious ideology of capitalism which led to such horrendous crimes as the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in four years of carpet bombing operations by the Nixon administration caught in a vice grip of anti-communist paranoia.

The power to control the mind will tend too readily to be used as weapon against our jihadist enemies while justifying the equally irrational and murderously harmful actions we term innocously “foreign policy.”

Some analysts are thus convinced that neuroscientists will be adopting a parochial and therefore ultimately counterproductive approach if they insist on identifying particular belief systems characteristic of ideological opponents as the primary subject for therapeutic manipulation.

On a much larger and potentially more fruitful scale is the recognition that the entire domain of religious beliefs, political convictions, patriotic nationalist fervor are in themselves powerful platforms for nurturing “Us vs Them” paranoid delusional fantasies which work out destructively in a 9/11 attack or a Hiroshima/Nagasaki orgy of mass destruction.

What we perceive from our perspective as our legitimate self-defensive reaction to the psychosis of the enemy, is from the perspective of the same enemy our equally malignant psychotic self-obsession.

The Huffington Post reports that this is not the first time Taylor has written a book about extremism and fundamentalism. In 2006, she wrote a book about mind control titled “Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control,” in which she examined the techniques that cultic groups use to influence victims.

She said: “We all change our beliefs of course. We all persuade each other to do things; we all watch advertising; we all get educated and experience [religions.] Brainwashing, if you like, is the extreme end of that; it’s the coercive, forceful, psychological torture type.”

She notes correctly that “brainwashing” which embraces all the subtle and not-so-subtle ways “we make people think things that might not be good for them, that they might not otherwise have chosen to think,” is a much more pervasive social phenomenon than we are willing to recognize. As social animals we are all victims of culturally induced brainwashing whose effectiveness correlates with our inability to think outside the box of our given acculturation.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/351347

School Tells 13-Year-Old That She Should Get a Breast Reduction to Combat Bullying [jezebel.com]

by Katie J.M. Baker / jezebel.com

Tammie Jackson recently called her 13-year-old’s school to complain that her daughter was being bullied thanks to her large breast size. In response, the school suggested that the sixth grader get a breast reduction.

Great solution, educators! That same logic could be applied in so many other ways: Kids making fun of you because you’re shrimpy? Grow taller! Are your classmates calling you a slut because someone made up a rumor that you gave a bj in the bathroom? Never go to the bathroom! WE HAVE SOLVED THE BULLYING EPIDEMIC.

Jackson, understandably outraged, spoke with FOX:

“It makes me feel like now you are telling me it’s my fault, it’s God’s fault the way he made her. The lady on the phone said they could transfer my daughter and said her boobs were so large she will always get teased. And the only suggestion she had for me is to have my daughter get a breast reduction,” said Jackson.

The school district told FOX that they’re “working” on the bullying issue and looking into the surgery claims. You do that.

Jackson also said her 9-year-old son is bullied to the point where he is suicidal because he has a rare heart condition and surgical scars. Maybe he should get a new heart?

http://jezebel.com/5977748/school-tells-13+year+old-that-she-should-get-a-breast-reduction-to-combat-bullying

Man tells senators transgendered people ‘lose their careers’ [latimes.com]

by Jamie Goldberg / latimes.com

WASHINGTON — When Kylar Broadus told his employer he would be making a gender transition from a woman to a man, he was harassed and ultimately forced out of his well-paying job at a financial institution, he said. It took him a year to find other employment.

“People lose their careers. It’s over when people find out you’re transgender,” said Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, who some senators said was the first openly transgender person to testify before theU.S. Senateon Tuesday.

Following a letter from Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions reopened discussion on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Forty-two percent of homosexuals and bisexuals reported employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey, a sociological survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Seventy-eight percent of transgender people reported harassment at work because of their gender identity, according to a 2011 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Among those who say they have faced discrimination are Jacqueline Gill, a temporary instructor at a community college in Texas, who was told by her supervisor that “Texas doesn’t like homosexuals” and Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who says she was fired from her job at the Georgia General Assembly for her gender expression.

“We have decades of social science research that tell us that those stories, which are just a sample of many, are repeated in workplaces all throughout America,” testified M.V. Lee Badgett, research director for the Williams Institute. However, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has had little success in Congress. ENDA has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1994, and in 2007 a modified version, without protections for transgender individuals, passed through the House before dying in the Senate.

While committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) expressed a commitment to seeing the bill move quickly through committee, he could not give any time frame. No Republicans attended what was supposed to be a full committee hearing.

Freedom to Work, a national organization committed to banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) on Tuesday urging him to bring the bill to the Senate floor. Freedom to Work President Tico Almeida plans to continue to press Harkin to push the bill through the committee.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and it is illegal in 16 states and the District of Columbia for employers to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

While Broadus finds himself lucky to be employed once again, he still hasn’t recovered financially and emotionally from the discrimination he faced.

“It will go with me to my grave,” Broadus said.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-man-tells-senators-transgendered-people-lose-their-careers-20120612,0,6077678.story

Violence Against Women Disguised as ‘Fashion’ [jezebel.com]

Image Intentionally Obscured

by Jenna Sauers / jezebel.com
Bulgarian fashion magazine 12 just published an appalling editorial containing nothing but portraits of models with horrific injuries. It’s a “beauty” spread — the kind of feature that normally highlights a makeup artist’s skills and aims to sell the “new” eyeshadow color of the season — but it isn’t very beautiful. There are models with Black Dahlia-style Glasgow Smiles, models who’ve been strangled, models who’ve had their earrings and facial piercings ripped out, and models who’ve been mutilated with acid. It’s all special-effects makeup, but it’s still sickening. These photos give you an idea the nature of the spread. And it’s hardly the first of its kind.

It’s a given that fashion magazines — like other forms of mass media — often aim to shock. Because they like the attention. Because they like the ad dollars. Because they like the rebellious reputation that shocking us squares confers. But it’s still worthwhile to examine the means by which they achieve that shock value. The high-fashion world in general loves to think of itself as contrarian, élite, and boldly at odds with the tastes and mores of the wider public. It likes to think that it, in fact, leads those tastes. But much of the imagery the fashion industry uses to communicate its messages at best echoes and at worst reinforces some of the wider culture’s most negative ideas about women and girls. As we all know thanks to Joan Didion, “it is possible for people to be the unconscious instruments of values they would strenuously reject on a conscious level.” Fashion, in all its contradictions, is great evidence of that.

The history of fashion is rife with depictions of and references to violence against women. Historically, photographers including Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin had a particular fascination with bloodied, bruised, or dead models, whom they often depicted in sexualized positions (a vein that contemporary fashion photographer Steven Klein continues to probe). The “dead girl” is such a trope of ladymags that it was imitated on America’s Next Top Model — five years ago.

As Margi Laird McHue wrote in her 2008 bookDomestic Violence: A Reference Handbook, this kind of imagery is highly problematic.

Striking examples of the depiction of women as sex objects who deserve to be battered are often found in advertising. In the late 1980s, for instance, many fashion ads featured women who were abused, bound and gagged, or in body bags. These images appeared in department store windows that also featured battered women and women stuffed into trash cans as the conquests of leather-clad men. After protests by women’s groups, the window displays were removed. Mainstream magazine fashion layouts featured women pulled along by corset ties, their necks in choke collars; trussed and restrained in straitjackets and straps; blindfolded; and sometimes stuffed in garbage bags. One Epsrit ad depicted a woman on an ironing board with a man about to iron her crotch; a Foxy Lady ad showed a woman who had been knocked to the floor with her shirt ripped open; and a Michael Mann ad pictured a woman in a coffin.

So although the 12 editorial may be a particularly explicit example of the form, these kinds of images are nothing new. Seeing women shown as the victims of implied male violence — or victims of any violence, frankly — in what is an overwhelmingly female industry, in magazines that are overwhelmingly run, written, and edited by women, has always troubled me. It troubled me back when I was a model, and was asked to take part in shoots that had themes of violence and death. It troubles me now that I merely see these images in the fashion media, which are largely the women’s media.

Why does fashion still think it’s “edgy” to portray women as objects to be beaten and killed? How does the staff of a tiny fashion magazine in Bulgaria get the idea that it’s cool and hip to do a beauty story where all the models look like battered women? (Answer: maybe they read Lula.)

People commonly judge women who are “too” interested in fashion as “fashion victims,” a term that implies interest in fashion is pathetic, pathological, and contrary to the interests of the woman herself. “There’s a lot of ‘dumb girl fashion/capitalist victim’ talk that dismisses fashion consumerism as feminine stupidity,” as Minh-Ha T. Pham has written. Fashion isn’t just stupid girl stuff, writes Meg Clark in one of the most passionately argued (and one of my personal favorite) defenses of taking fashion seriously. “This is society, and self-presentation, and economy, and patriarchy, and sociology, and billions and billions of dollars.”

This empty idea of the fashion consumer as fashion victim — of the stupid Vogue-reading woman too alienated from her own best interests to realize that cosmetics and designers clothes are nothing but frivolous distractions from the important stuff — is of course what 12 is punning on. “Ha ha,” says the spread, “What if women were literally victims of beauty?” Eye roll. If we finally got rid of the idea that fashion is for victims, maybe we’d see fewer victimized women in fashion magazines.

Ultimately, my feelings on these kinds of spreads are pretty much in line with those of Cheryl Wischover at Fashionista, who writes, “Violence against women exists way too frequently in real life for us to want to look at it in a fashion magazine.” Fashion has an enduring fascination with depictions of women as the victims of violence in part because we live in a culture whereroughly one-third of all women murder victims are killed by their partners, where women experience around 4.8 million domestic violence assaults and rapes every year, where nearly one-quarter of women will experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Fashion reflects the wider culture, and ours has a lot of work to do.

Victim of Beauty [12 Magazine] [Warning: full spread NSFW]

http://jezebel.com/5916650/fashions-ongoing-violence-against-women/gallery/1

After Limbaugh, Maybe It’s Finally Time To Ignore The ‘Slut’ Slur [time.com]

by Megan Gibson / Time.com

Make no mistake, ladies. Rush Limbaugh wasn’t just calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” on his nationally syndicated radio show, heard by an estimated 15 million people. He was calling all of us sluts.

The furor started last week, when Limbaugh spent three consecutive days describing the testimony to House Democrats given by Sandra Fluke on February 23, 2012. A 30-year-old law student at Georgetown University, Fluke had testified that a close friend had been denied birth control coverage through her insurance provider; she required the pills to treat polycystic ovary syndrome. Though Fluke’s testimony did not delve into her own sex life, Limbaugh characterized her as a “slut” and a “prostitute”, saying she wanted taxpayers to pay for her sexual practices.

Apart from Limbaugh’s wildly inaccurate description of Fluke’s statement – she was speaking in favor of requiring private insurance plans to cover contraception – it was his language that caused a firestorm. There was nothing radical about Fluke’s testimony; in 2012, a woman requiring birth control should be altogether uncontroversial. Birth control is something that the vast majority of American women use, have used, or will use at some point, whether they are Democrats, Republicans, college students, sex workers, mothers or even virgins, since hormonal birth control pills are commonly prescribed to remedy irregular or painful menstrual cycles. If Limbaugh thinks Sandra Fluke is a slut, then he must think a whole lot of other women are, too.

Which is why it has been heartening to see the rush of women and men taking to Twitter, Facebook and online petitions to support Fluke and condemn Limbaugh. Across the Internet, women have begun an ongoing campaign to take Limbaugh down, putting pressure on advertisers to pull funding from his show. Despite Limbaugh issuing a written and on-air apology to Fluke, around three dozen advertisers have already pulled their sponsorship and at least two stations have dropped the show altogether. Will the backlash lead to Limbaugh’s show being canceled altogether? In all likelihood, probably not. Still, the solidarity that Fluke and women across the country have shown has been inspiring.

Click to read the read of the article at Time.com…

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/08/in-rush-limbaughs-wake-women-are-reclaiming-the-word-slut/#ixzz1p34GaLIZ

One-Way Wantonness [nytimes.com]

by Frank Bruni / nytimes.com

Hussy. Harlot. Hooker.

Floozy. Strumpet. Slut.

When attacking a woman by questioning her sexual mores, there’s a smorgasbord of slurs, and you can take your rancid pick. Help me out here: where are the comparable nouns for men? What’s a male slut?

A role model, in some cases. In others, a presidential candidate.

“Gigolo” doesn’t have the acid or currency of “whore,” and the man with bedpost notches gets compliments. He’s a Casanova, a conquistador.

The lady is a tramp.

Nearly two weeks since Rush Limbaugh let loose on Sandra Fluke, equating her desire for insurance-covered birth control with a prostitute’s demand for a fee, the wrangling over how awful that really was and whether it will truly haunt him continues.

Advertisers bolted in protest; advertisers come and go all the time. It was the beginning of his end; it was ratings chum. He lost his way; he was Rush in Excelsis.

One especially robust strand of commentary has focused on whether Limbaugh, a god of the far right, was smacked down for the kind of thing that less conservative men routinely get away with.

Click to continue reading the article at the NY Times…

 

Tennessee Legislature Introduces Transphobic ‘Bathroom Bill’ [thinkprogress.org]

by Zack Ford / thinkprogress.com

If it weren’t discouraging enough that the Tennessee legislature will consider a “license to bully” bill and reconsider the “don’t say gay” bill, the new session has opened with the introduction of a blatantly transphobic bathroom bill. Sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson (R), the bill (SB 2282) would institute a $50 fine for anybody who does not use the public restroom or dressing room that matches the sex identification on his or her birth certificate:

(b)  Except as provided in § 68-15-303, where a restroom or dressing room in a public building is designated for use by members of one particular sex, only members of that particular sex shall be permitted to use that restroom or dressing room.

(c)  A violation of subsection (b) is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a to a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00).

If passed, this bill would make Tennessee a particularly unfriendly place for people who are transgender. Tennessee law does not allow for the sex to be changed on birth certificates, which means this law would make it illegal for transgender people to utilize any public accommodations that match their gender. It would also impose on any businesses — such as Macy’s — that have transgender-inclusive policies.

Last year, the Family Action Council of Tennessee ran transphobic ads to support a bill that banned all municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The ads rehashed the “bathroom meme,” the fear that all transgender people are sexual predators trying to use the wrong restroom to find children to abuse. In reality, there has never been a case of someone using a transgender identity to molest children, nor is there anything to suggest that this bill would do anything to make children safer from actual predators. (HT: Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.)

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/12/403043/tennessee-legislature-introduces-transphobic-bathroom-bill/?mobile=nc

 

Words That Are Transphobic and Why [bilerico.com]

Filed By Bil Browning / bilerico.com

Ever wonder if certain words or phrases are transphobic? Ever wonder why you’re getting called out for some things you say? Check out this great infographic from the UC Davis LGBT Resource Center.

(Clickety to embiggen)

Are-You-Transphobic-Infographic.jpeghttp://www.bilerico.com/2011/11/words_that_are_transphobic_why.php#.TtaBFM6FRQe.facebook

Zombies Anonymous – A Movie, and a Metaphor – For Being Perceived Different Even Though You Feel Like the Same Person [cinefantastiqueonline.com]

This is a fascinating movie that explores what its like to be normal (alive) one moment and then suddenly rejected by society the next (undead).  The movie makes a slight change in zombie lore by giving the undead their conscience and souls, thus the dilemma of feeling like the same person, while everyone else treats you different. – Helen

By Randall Larson

51W6msPiGEL. SL210  Zombies Anonymous   Horror Film ReviewA thoroughly entertaining, likable, and satisfying zombie thriller, despite its obvious low budget.

Unlike other half-baked attempts at low-budget horror-making, Marc Fratto’s movie has a great plot, convincing performances, effective camerawork, and a well played-out storyline. In Fratto’s take on theNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD zombie concept, the newly dead becomes zombies and crave human flesh, but the story is set in a world where living and dead co-exist, and marketing campaigns are geared toward the undead (“Look Alive” face creams, to cover up that dead skin look!). Zombies are just as cognizant and sentient as they were when alive – which affords many (perhaps too many) clear references to racism and prejudice as the story plays out.

Gina Ramsden is just wonderful as Angela, a young lady shot by her jealous and rage-intensive boyfriend (convincingly played with full-on gangsta attitude by Joshua Nelson), who thereafter confronts a zombie support group (funny!), a small army of alive-supremacists who want to kill off all the zombies (headed by Christina McNamee who chews up the scenery – just a bit too much, actually – with a rapacious vigor as their Commandant), and a group of religious evangelicals seeking to show the way, the truth, and the light of zombie-ism as the next step in human evolution (headed by the mesmerizing Mary Jo Verruto as hippy-dippy Mother Solstice, leader of the cult) – with all of them coming together in a final massive confrontation in an old multi-story house.

Ramsden makes the character – and therefore the story and her situation – perfectly real, and her response to her zombiehood, as she is shunned by co-workers, family, friends, and adjusts to this new ostracism, is sensitive and compelling. Kevin T. Collins is also excellent as a rebellious zombie who shrugs off the support group to embrace his “inner zombie” and join the cult.

The movie is fun, it’s compelling, and it’s very well done despite the obvious limitations of its budget. The make-up effects are convincing and effective, for the most part (especially James E. Smith as the former detective with the mutilated zombie face).

Fratto and his team have put together a first-rate film and taken the zombie movie into a fascinating new direction. Unfortunately,the DVD version cuts out about 14 minutes. While the film can use the trims and is still a bit overlong at 104 minutes (especially in its final third), the deletions eliminate some major plot points, creating some confusion in the climax, especially as regards the Commandant, who suddenly shows up, with short hair, shot, and in her underwear to confront the zombie cult.

ZA: ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS (2006, aka LAST RITES FOR THE DEAD). Written and directed by Marc Fratto. Cast: Gina Ramsden, Joshua Nelson, Christa McNamee, Gaetano Iacono, Kevin T. Collins.

http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2009/03/zombies-anonymous-horror-film-review/

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