Posted in Uncategorized

On #BendtheKnee

“The unity of freedom has never relied on the uniformity of opinion.” -JFK

Freedom is an interesting concept. The idea that we’re all entitled by birth to pursue happiness, follow whatever religion we want without governmental persecution, these are all relatively new ideas. The United States of America considers itself “free” and most of its citizens would say they have “freedom.”

Which is why I think when they see the Colin Kaepernick‘s #BendtheKnee movement, these citizens get pissed off. How could someone not #StandUnited for a song of freedom? How could you bend a knee to our precious flag?

And in turn, those who support bend the knee ask how could people be forced to stand and pledge for freedom that doesn’t include their skin tone? With police brutality caught on camera, when black bodies die because cops panic shoot, and nearly none of these officers see a jail cell? Here is a simple, powerful message done without violence to show their not going to stand for oppression anymore. Black Lives Matter, and they want to be heard.

Back and forth we go on the debate. It’s interesting to me that for so many people they find the kneeling so offensive. If we see North Korean propaganda videos of them all standing together and singing their national anthem, we would call that obvious oppression. No citizen in North Korea has the freedom to say no to standing or singing; it’s not their choice to do these acts. So how is it we’ve got a President of America that wants to do the same? Give no choice or freedom to protest?

Telling a group of disenfranchised individuals that they must “do as their told” for the sake of being “united in freedom” is oppression. Telling someone that they must be “obedient” to the government and its status quo isn’t freedom. Protesting, rebellions, these are the foundations of our country. Not liking this choice of protest might be understandable, but everyone has the right to freedom of expression and free thought.

In the end, there are two conversations at play. The #StandUnited conversation which argues for the total loyalty to a country that has served them well, and the #BendtheKnee protesters and supporters who want to shed the light on the country that had abused them. When it comes to the conversation worth having it’s the latter, because when one side of the conversation has people dying and being actively oppressed it deserves to be taken seriously. Dismissing and jeering at protesters is only proving their point: Their voices don’t matter to the status quo.

Until they are heard, they must continue the #BlackLivesMatter and #BendtheKnee movements.

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Posted in From Kentucky

A Letter to Transylvania University from an Alumni [UPDATED]

Paola Garcia is a current student at Transylvania University, my alma mater, and a DACA participant. Recently, she was a victim of getting her Facebook profile posted to a hate group by one Taylor Ragg, also a current student. Ragg told the members on the group to “go report this illegal at my school bragging about breaking the law.” Garcia is now being inundated with harassment, and the University has done nothing to protect her besides a “meeting to discuss social media sharing” and that’s about it. And so, I sent an email expressing my displeasure.


Dear Transylvania University Administration,

It’s come to my attention that a possible injustice is occurring on campus. Recently, I discovered via social media that a current student, Paola Garcia, has been subject to an extreme case of harassment by another student, Taylor Ragg.

Taylor Ragg
Taylor Ragg (Right)

According to the information provided by Ms. Garcia publicly, she is a senior working towards her degree who so happens to be enrolled with the now politically heated and news media buzzword DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). As she’s been in the United States since she was two, she knows no other country besides America and wishes to remain here. 

Paola Garcia.png
Paola Garcia (via CBSThisMorning)

Mr. Ragg, as I understand it, then proceeded to post doxing information about Ms. Garcia to a hate group called the “10th Crusade Enthusiasts.” If you aren’t aware of what the 10th Crusade Enthusiasts stand for, allow me to explain. 10th Crusaders are groups of people who believe they are on a holy, just, and “patriotic” mission to wipe out ISIS and all radical Muslims from the Middle East. Over the years the groups have become steadily more radical and hateful, often overlapping with other hate groups. These groups often target those they perceive as “foreigners” for harassment, abuse, and other less savory things.  

Inline image 1

When Mr. Ragg posted to this group, he demanded a call to action. To quote from the screenshot, “Everyone go report this illegal at my school bragging about breaking the law.” 

[Editor’s Note: What I meant to say here was that by posting this call to action to report her he must’ve known he would open the doors for harassment and abuse to get thrown at her. On a group that’s known for its xenophobia, he can claim ignorance and his words don’t specifically say to harass her, but he must’ve known that would be a consequence of his posting her Facebook profile onto the group.]

As I understand it, that call to action [i.e. putting her profile up] asked others from a hate group that demands the killing of thousands in the Middle East to then harass Ms. Garcia.  This harassment –according to Ms. Garcia’s plead for help on YouTube – included images sent to her private inbox of members from the 10th Crusade Enthusiasts “threatening her with ICE” and sending “tips to Homeland security.” 

Under the discrimination policy crafted by the university to protect students, as I understand it. Here is the first line from said policy: 

“Transylvania University is committed to ensuring that the institution is free of harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, color, citizenship status, sex, age, disability, pregnancy, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief or veteran’s status or any other category protected by applicable state or federal law or local ordinance.”

Ms. Garcia claims she went to the administration to report this harassment, but was met with a negative response. Somehow, Mr. Ragg’s actions don’t violate the discrimination policy, which I find interesting considering the very first line in the policy states a person can’t harass another based on citizenship status. Ms. Garcia quotes the administration’s conclusion as, “Mr. Ragg posted your comment with a recommendation to readers about how to respond to it.” 

If that is indeed the response the administration gave to a student who was clearly under threat from a hate group, I find it quite disturbing then that Transylvania University would condone the behavior of Mr. Ragg. Allowing a student to not only call for discrimination and harassment, but even deportation of a student attending the university seems point blank against the non-discrimination policy. As I recall, violation of the policy would require probation or expulsion from the campus.

However, as I am only an observer to the situation, I can’t claim that I will have all the information at hand to make the best call to action myself. Ms. Garcia would like Mr. Ragg expelled, and such an action would be understandable considering she fears that her and her family could very well be taken away without warning thanks to Mr. Ragg’s post. I would call for expulsion if indeed all of his actions have met the criteria for violating the safety and well-being of another student, one who would live the rest of her senior life in fear of being deported or harassed before completing her degree. 

Please review this case, interview the students once again. Just so you are all aware, the 10th Crusader Enthusiasts group has been closed down. Ms. Garcia claims to have screenshots of all the materials she gathered to make her harassment report. I urge and plead with you to rethink how Transylvania University wants to respond to blatant racism and xenophobia. In the past, we’ve had a tumultuous history on protecting the minority students on campus, even though at the same time we have heroes on staff willing to battle a man who comes to attack students on campus. Whether or not Transylvania will continue to fight for what is right, I’ll wait and see. 

Thank you for your time,

Jessica Gordon


Response from the University:
Dear Jessica,
Thank you for your email.

Transylvania University does not condone or tolerate hatred, bigotry, bullying or harassment in any form and will address any such behavior in a manner consistent with our policies, procedures, and values as a University. We value every member of this community on the basis of their humanity, not on the basis of their ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or legal status. As per University policy, however, we cannot comment on any specific personnel or student issue. 

Thank you again for reaching out. We appreciate you sharing your concerns.

Michele Gaither Sparks
Vice President for Marketing & Communications
Transylvania University


The Kentucky Herald Leader has now posted ‘Report this illegal.’ Student seeks help after classmate targets her for deportation.  which includes an excerpt from President Seamus Carey:

“It is essential to remember, however, that the way we pursue justice is as important as the outcome we seek,” Carey said. “If justice is to be lasting, the means by which it is achieved is as important as the achievement itself. As a country and as an institution, we are governed by laws. These laws protect the freedom to express one’s viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are different from our own. Thus, there are times when our laws seem like an obstacle rather than a support. If we want justice to endure, however, we cannot succumb to frustrations that would have us break the law or violate policies.”

I’m not entirely sure what he means by this. Did Ragg violate the non-discrimination policy? Or not? What will happen now? Is Paola Garcia going to graduate with Ragg? I expect that nothing is going to happen, which is immensely disappointing.

I would prefer President Carey and his administration create a safer environment for Garcia, and see this incident for the violation that it is against policy. Claiming, perhaps, that it’s just a “freedom of speech” issue is understating the danger Garcia could be in thanks to this post and the fallout from their own decision. 


Transylvania University’s President’s Email to the Community in Full: 

Dear Campus Community,

Over the weekend, one of our female students posted a YouTube video asking the community for help in having another Transylvania student expelled from school.  The reason for this request is harassment she has suffered online.  This harassment has come from viewers of a website known for white supremacist sentiments.  These viewers responded to a post by the other Transylvania student that included a statement from the female student that she is undocumented. We have received reports that viewers of the You Tube video are responding with similar vitriol towards the male student.

Transylvania University does not condone hatred, bigotry, bullying or harassment in any form. We will address any such behavior in a manner consistent with our policies, procedures, and values as a University.  We value every member of this community on the basis of their humanity, not on the basis of their ethnicity, race, disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or legal status. Actions are legal or illegal, not people.

As I wrote last week in my message to the community, we fully support our DACA students.  We are doing all we can to make sure that Congress passes sensible, humane legislation so that our DACA students and families can move past the uncertainty they are currently experiencing.

In a recent post addressing the controversy of moving Confederate statues from Cheapside Park, I emphasized that as an educational institution, Transylvania is guided by the pursuit of truth.  We are also guided by the pursuit of justice. A Transylvania education is characterized not only by the knowledge we create and share, but the values that shape our character.  Bigotry and bias are not among those values.  Compassion, generosity, and justice are.

It is essential to remember, however, that the way we pursue justice is as important as the outcome we seek. If justice is to be lasting, the means by which it is achieved is as important as the achievement itself.  As a country and as an institution, we are governed by laws.  These laws protect the freedom to express one’s viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are different from our own. Thus, there are times when our laws seem like an obstacle rather than a support.  If we want justice to endure, however, we cannot succumb to frustrations that would have us break the law or violate policies.  The pursuit of justice is a long-term battle that requires insight, endurance, and resilience.  We are here for the long run.

I invited both of the involved students to meet with me this morning to discuss the uses and impact of social media and ways we might move forward. The student who posted to the white supremacist website has been in contact with our office but has yet to accept this invitation. The student who experienced harassment did meet with Vice President Sheilley and me this morning. We had a productive and positive dialogue with that student.  We will continue to work together with the involved students to arrive at the best outcome.  

Sincerely,
Seamus Carey
President


As of September 13th, Taylor Ragg is no longer enrolled at the university. Herald Leader’s Linda Blackford reports

“Spokeswoman Michele Sparks said senior Taylor Ragg left campus following a grievance process performed by school administrators. Citing federal privacy laws, Sparks said she could not say whether Ragg had been expelled or left voluntarily.”

Taylor Ragg has since deleted his Facebook profile (oh, the irony) and left with only one quote to his name: “the Herald-Leader is ‘fake news.'” The MAGA and 10th Crusader Enthusiast will be running around to find a new university to graduate by next May, so…good luck to him on trying to find a campus in Kentucky that didn’t hear about this whole situation.

21743343_2027113167302726_3237586612760575508_n

It could be that perhaps Ragg left because he himself was doxed. His contact information was spread around, which included his cell and home phone numbers as well as his home address. Paola Garcia had this to say about it:

On doxing Taylor.png

Garcia will still have struggles ahead and possibly backlash from groups for the incident along with the subsequent leaving of Ragg. Already, her YouTube comment section is full of the words “wetback bitch,” “cunt,” “filthy illegal whore,” and etc. With the press releases, the story will only gain more traction in the next six months with DACA becoming more and more of a political talking point, so I don’t expect the comments to get any better. 

So many, many things went wrong with how the university handled this situation. 

First, by ignoring the blatant violation of policy on targeting a student for her immigration status that was concluded as not a violation. It was, it’s the first line in the non-discrimination policy. How someone could look at that post and not find it a violation is disturbing, because it shows the administration must have a pattern of avoidance behavior for other violations as well. How many other students have come to the administration and received similar results? It seems to me the administration could do with some reeducation on what it means to protect minority students and perhaps even some better training on diversity issues in general. 

Second, the administration failed Garcia in supporting her with the harassment and her fears of deportation. This young woman felt so desperate for help that she posted a YouTube video, because the administration essentially told her she was on her own in dealing with this situation, a situation in which she was terrified meant dealing with a virtual angry mob and their subsequent abuse along with the very real possibility of getting removed from the country before getting her degree. Why didn’t the administration assure her they’d support her? Why didn’t they connect her to campus security and get her set up with a report (you can inform them you fear for your safety, I did once, long story)? She was left bereft and scared, so she reached out to outside of campus for help. The administration should’ve done better by her. 

Third, they wanted her and the one who brought harassment on her to have a group discussion, as if this was some playground kindergarten fight. Now I could be reading the President’s email he sent out wrong, but it seems as if he’s suggesting everyone sit down and talk it out. No, no, no, sir, you don’t have a harasser and their target sit down to talk it out, whether the topic be social media sharing or what you’re all having for lunch on Tuesday, you don’t have the harasser meet with their victim. Two separate meetings? Fine, but having the guy who wants her deported come in so both of them can get a lecture as if they both deserve equal reprimanding for wrongs done. 

He tried to get her deported, she pleaded for help, the two are not on equal grounds for a lecture or discussion. No to mention, yes Garcia is a minority student and Ragg is a white student, that matters, especially when Garcia could be in a room with two white males versus herself. That wouldn’t be a room she’d walk into expecting good times to happen, and she’d come in ready to be dismissed, belittled, or otherwise harassed again. Not to mention, while Transylvania University’s history of predominant whiteness doesn’t mean it’s malevolent or intentionally racist, there is a system in place that favors the white over the others just by virtue of legacy students and through “traditional” ways of doing things there. Garcia is at a disadvantage, and trying to make it appear she doesn’t is problematic. 

From here, I’d like to see changes implemented by the university that better support minority students, especially ones like Paola Garcia, as well as protect them from harassment. We’ll see how things go, but I’m sorry to say, I’m not hopeful. 


 *Updates will continue as this story progresses 

Posted in From Kentucky

How You Can Support Muslims and Refugees in Kentucky

Needless to say, I disagree with both the Muslim travel ban and the executive ordered refusal of refugees into the United States. As such, I want to endeavor to help those who are in need of aid.

Luckily, there has been a stay on the executive order that allows legal Muslim citizens to return to the U.S., but what about when they return to a country that has seemingly targeted them as enemies? Refugees who will feel isolated and cut off from home? There are things we Americans, and specifically Kentuckians, can do to help them.

Contacting Politicians

Having our voices heard is a vital part of our democracy. Governor Matt Bevin needs to hear the stories and know that people care enough to call. If you disagree with the ban and the turning away of refugees, call him at (502) 564-2611. If you have Twitter, his handle is @GovMattBevin. He also has a Facebook page to which you can send messages. You can also send mail to:

700 Capitol Avenue
Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601

If you’re not a citizen of Kentucky, you can go to Refugee Council USA to find contact information for your state governor and legislators. They have a sample script for phone calls that you can use:

Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [City, State], and I support refugee resettlement in the U.S. I am strongly opposed to President Trump’s decision to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, pause the refugee resettlement program, and reduce the number of refugees we welcome. This discriminatory announcement is morally reprehensible, runs counter to who we are as a nation, and does not reflect the welcome for refugees I see in my community every day. I urge you to do everything in your power to see this announcement reversed.”

As well advice for tweeting out to Presdient Trump and your state representative.

Tweet @realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, and @ your Senators/Representatives: “.@[HANDLE], my community stands w/ ALL refugees! Support refugee resettlement & reject discrimination! #RefugeesWelcome”

One of the best ways to make your voice heard is by sending the White House a message via Facebook message at Facebook.com/WhiteHouse or submit an electronic message at whitehouse.gov/contact.

Help Refugees in Your Area

There are four refugee resettlement agencies in Kentucky. In the Louisville and Lexington area, we have Kentucky Refugee Ministries Inc.  KRM seeks put employers to make employment services. Over 200+ Kentucky employers hire refugees, and they help refugees support their families in their new lives. There is also a call for volunteers, perhaps by “tutoring kids after school, practicing English with adults, or helping someone find their first job in the U.S.” However, do be aware that there is an application process, so please be patient with the organizations if they don’t return your queries to help right away.

Two really interesting ideas from the site are writing welcome cards to refugees and showing support through multi-lingual signs. Since the order bars refugees from arriving for 120 days, you can write cards or letters “for those families who are already here and for those who will arrive after the suspension is lifted. On the cards, you can write welcome in different languages. Get the kids involved by drawing pictures and adding stickers. Drop them off at KRM or deliver them to [KRM] offices so staff can get them into the hands of refugee families.” It’s a nice little gesture that might not change the world, but it could mean the world to one family.

KRM suggests putting up “a sign of welcome in multiple languages outside your home or business showing your support for your neighbors to see.” The link above is for the PDF versions of the various multilingual signs. After all, America has no official language, no official religion, and we shouldn’t be banning anyone based on religion or creed.

On there you can also sign the Kentucky-wide petition calling to keep Kentucky welcoming. The petition is organized as part of KRM’s coalition organizing a statewide event, the fourth annual Refugee and Immigrant Day at the Capitol on February 16th at the capitol Frankfort.

In the Bowling Green and Owensboro area, we have the International Center of Kentucky. They provide many of the same services as KRM, including helping refugees find employment, legal aides, translation services, and so on. You can apply to be an individual volunteer, but there is the option to do group volunteer activities as well.

The International Center has a Mentor system, wherein you can apply to help a specific refugee family get back on their feet. The application process is a little more rigorous than the volunteer one, so please be aware of that. However, if you live in these areas and wish to help, fill out the application in the link above. If you have any questions about the mentor program, you can call or visit one of the offices below.

Bowling Green Office
806 Kenton Street,
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101
P: (270) 781-8336
F: (270) 781-8136

Owensboro Office:
2818 New Hartford Road, Entrance N
Owensboro, Kentucky 42303
P: (270) 683-3423
F: (270) 683-3425

For those looking for refugee aid centers and resettlement organizations, here is the list of refugee resettlement agencies by state. Please, find the one close to you and offer your support to help keep services for refugees to continue rebuilding their lives.

Give Donations

In Kentucky, there are various ways you can give. KRM has a donation page that requests for both donation items and funds. The donation items are helpful in refugees starting a new life, and the funds will be helping KRM to assist refugees in the state. The Int. Center of KY also have an easy donation page where you send support them via PayPal.

If you want a site that’s multi-lingual, then head over to the Refugee Center Online. It has up to date information on the ban and what refugees can do now to protect their status. You can also donate to the Refugee Center here.

For these organizations, every little bit helps. Please consider giving to help those who really need it right now.

If you can’t do everything, do what you can. Take some time on Saturday to help someone learn English. If you can’t volunteer, send some blankets or preserved food. Give just $5 to one of these organizations. Take a moment to lambaste a governor or a president on your lunch break. Or just put up a sign that you’re in solidarity with the freedoms America was founded upon, and tell the world you stand on the right side of history. Past, present, and future.

Posted in Uncategorized

How to be a Liberal Dick in 3 Easy Steps

The difference between the news and the tabloids is a thinner line in the good ol’ USA than I’d like. Sensationalism has become nearly synonymous with journalism, which is just a  depressing reality in the new age of #alternativefacts. I’d go so far to say more yellow journalism gets churned out daily than legitimate news articles, so when I hear people shout about fake news, it’s actually not that hard to see why.

And liberals, despite what we’d like to believe, can be awful. We can play hard at the sensationalist side of things, and more often than not we’re not even aware how utterly hypocritical we’re being about. Because of that lack of self-awareness, it’s pretty easy to become a dickish liberal. As a liberal myself of the moderate bitchy variety, I think it’s time we take a look at this process.

Step 1: Be a Feminist (But Only When it’s In Style)

Let’s take a look that this piece of trash masquerading as news, shall we?

shame-on-you-for-not-smiling
Slate: A “news” organziation

Heather Schwedel (and her source Jezebel, which we won’t even step into because that’s a whole other article) is a smile analysis expert, apparently. I find it astonishing that a Slate editor looked at this barely-an-article thing, said, “Yeah, you go girl!” and up it went. Schwedel seems to have a lot of other articles that are pro-ladies, but Melania is of course exempt because it’s now fashionable to hate her. By the way, let’s not even get into the fact that it was a reverse gif so…talk about FAKE NEWS.

I’m a feminist, do you know what I hate being told all the time? “Smile honey!” It makes me want to punch people in the throat. Stop policing my damn smiles, I’ll smile when there’s something to smile about, so screw you.

Actually, remember when everybody was on board the no catcalling bandwagon? Here let me refresh your memory.

This video went viral in like 2014, that was all of two years ago, and apparently nobody learned a goddamn thing from it. I thought that it was about how telling women how to act and how to behave is more or less harassment, but no. Instead, we’re back to square one, and it’s totally fine to nitpick at the ladies to be perfect little smiley angels all damn day long.

Look, Melania is the First Lady of the United States, who was probably tired as hell from getting dragged around from this photo op to this speech thing to this church thing, leave her the hell alone. I don’t smile all the damn time, and she shouldn’t have to either. If us liberals are going to be all about fairness and equality, we need to be FAIR and EQUAL about it. I don’t see articles pointing out how Trump didn’t smile throughout the entire inauguration, so why is Melania getting dumped on? Because she’s a women, and they always get the bum end of the deal in the media.

And yet if you think women are the only ones who get the low blows, sorry to say, there are definitely lower ones.

Step 2: Attack the Kids (For Extra Points, Be an SNL Celebrity)

Kids don’t get to choose their parents, so they just have to deal with the fallout of dad or mom embarrassing them at the mall. At least, normal kids do, but Barron Trump has the unfortunate plight of being the child of Donald J. Trump. And so, that means some people think it’s fine to say things like this:

What did she even mean? If he’s a shooter and he’s home-schooled, what he’s going to shoot his parents? So a ten year old is going to assassinate the president? She obviously didn’t think this “joke” through. It should be noted that Katie quickly apologized like so:

But all the same, who the hell thinks it’s cool to call a ten year old kid a future terrorist? (Besides Texas and that whole clock business, I mean). Barron will probably grow up and become a rich white dude of some variety, and that’s about it. He might be a politician, he might be a TV personality of some kind, he might be a model like his mom, who the hell knows or even cares. He’s a kid, leave him alone, let him figure that out.

Anyways, I feel a little bad for Katie, since she’s getting flack for something that most of Twitter gets away with a lot.

how-is-this-news
The entire “article” is 90% Twitter embeds. Adam Boult be lazy much?

That’s right, an entire article, devoted to pointing out that a kid was tired looking at an event. That’s it. The kid was up for over 24 hours, but somehow that’s unforgivable? For children to be tired?!

Now, did the alt-right racists attack the Obama daughters? They sure as hell did, but that doesn’t make this nonsense equal out. Leave the damn kids alone, they’re not in charge of your country. Send your ire towards the easy target: Trump and his tiny hands (…approving the abortion gag from the Reagan era)

Step 3: Commit/Cheer On Violent Acts (Don’t Bother to Stop Them)

No one is without sin, and yet everyone feels like casting that first stone. Sometimes, right into shop windows.

Washington riots.png
HeraldScotland.com

People are saying that these “activists” (*coughanarchistscough*) have no affiliation with the “peace and flower loving liberals who marched without causing problems.” Alright, but do you think that news affiliates care about that? NO, no they don’t. They’re already talking about “radical leftists” and “terrorist activity” instead of, ya know, researching like journalists should (Google search is HARD you guys).

Marchers need to take action when they see looting and rioting, or even better, they need to take preventative actions. How do you prevent rioting and looting? Easy, before a group heads out for protests, tell them that there’s now a 10 year jail sentence for people who get caught destroying property. When no one believes you, because wow a decade for that seems a bit much, inform them that fellow marchers will call the police on you if you begin to loot or riot. Finally, inform them that if/when they’re caught looting and rioting, you’re not protecting them from the police. “Oh, you want to throw a brick into a Starbucks? Have fun getting baton beaten and pepper sprayed.”

There’s solidarity in the face of adversity, but then there’s being a by-stander to criminal activity. When you march, you be ready to stop that shit.

And then there’s also just going around punching people you disagree with, something that people out of high school should know better than to do.

Now, I’m not going to say this guy didn’t deserve a punch to the face (Captain America would probably be proud), but it’s not something to cheer about either. I’m not going to condone violent actions. I might be internally gleeful that an asshole got what was coming to him, but in the end it only hurts the cause against racism.

This punch will be used as proof at every alt-right/Neo Nazi meeting in the country that they’re right about the “savage” black race and blah blah blah [insert more asinine bullshit here to support stupid eugenics and white superiority that’s based on super false “science”].  So while people want to cheer on this vigilante, remember that violence is what the other side wants. They want people to get angry, to punch, to loot, to make a smear campaign. They want to see us fail, essentially, to be the freedom fighters and instead paint us as terrorists.

The alt-right/Neo Nazis might even look at this post and start frothing at the mouth, “See! Even the libtards and special snowflakes know they’re wrong!” But no, that’s not the point. I want to make it clear that I’m still a liberal, I’m still a “social justice warrior” (I prefer the term armchair activist, if we’re going for derogatory titles), and I agree with most liberal ideals. However, in order for liberalism to keep its footing, it needs to take a good hard look at its flaws and hypocrisy. We liberals need to always endeavor to do better, we should always be trying to improve, and to do that we need to see what’s wrong with us.

If you don’t want to be a liberal dick, it’s actually pretty easy. DON’T share tabloid headline nonsense about the First Lady, DON’T make fun of children to further your own political aims, and finally DON’T riot at peaceful gatherings or punch people. DO praise the organizers of the Womens March, DO talk about education funding of public schools (call your legislators, people!), and whether you’re liberal or conservative try to DO all things with the goal of achieving peace.

 

 

Posted in Japan News

Womens March Tokyo! | All the VLogs!

On January 20th, I took part in the solidarity march movement that’s taking place around the world. Women’s March Tokyo was the first one in that movement. We came together to support each other, as well as stand up for the rights of women, LGQTQA+ persons, immigrants, blacks, and many more.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one there. A few others recorded the historic event as well (and did it better than me). Please check these videos out!

This one is by Ronin Dave, which features interviews with attendees.

Here I’m featuring a video series from The River. I’m only putting up the part 1 of 5, but I’ll add links to the others: [2]  [3]  [4]  [5] (My head makes a brief appearance in 5, whoohoo!)

And the final video is by noxxx710. This actually features more of the front group that was too far ahead in my video to get footage of, so there’s that. You can see the Democrats of Japan leaders and organizers in there.

The turn out was nearly twice as much as expected, which was amazing! I was very proud to be there.

Note: NOT A PROTEST, this was a march in solidarity with the people scared of what it means to have Trump as a President. We wanted to raise our voices, show that we will hold him accountable for what he said and what he will do for the next four years.

Posted in Japan News

Sister Marches in Tokyo and Kansai

The Sister Marches in Japan will be on January 20th in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

In Tokyo women, men, and children are all invited to Hibiya Park on January 20th (It is ALL inclusive). From 5:30 to 6:30 pm everybody who wants to attend must arrive and gather together. The march members will depart at 6:45 pm from Nishi Saiwai Gate. At Mikawadai Park, the march will end at approximately 8:00 pm depending on traffic conditions.

The statement from the event site:

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.  The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear. In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers is too great to ignore.  We call on all defenders of human rights to join us.

You can also learn more at the Women’s March-Tokyo Facebook Event.

In Kansai there will be a night vigil with people gathering at 7:00 pm and the march starting at 7:30 pm.

Statement from the event page:

Please share!

As US citizens and members of the international community in the Kansai area of Japan, we are concerned with the hateful and irresponsible behavior and policies of the incoming president of the United States and his administration.

We gather and march to stand vigil during the presidential inauguration, occuring at Eastern Standard Time, to express solidarity with Women’s March, and with other movements in fighting injustice and protecting the environment.

We have gone through the proper channels and got permits for this, so please meet at Nakanoshima Ekimae Hiroba (中之島駅) at 7PM and prepare to begin walking from there and past the US consulate at 7:35PM sharp. We will then reconvene at the park and continue the vigil from there.

Inauguration opening remarks is scheduled for 1:30AM JST. Bring signs, candles, heat packs, and dress warm!

If you know of a Sister March in Japan, please put it in the comments below.

UPDATE: There is advice given to participants from Washington D.C. It is encouraged that you share and spread this advice, so feel free to copy and paste to your social media of choice.

If you’re going to DC, Boston, Los Angeles, SF, etc. to take part in a peaceful gathering, here are some good tips.

*Keep your cool.
*Do not offer personal information to unsolicited requests.
*Stay to the edges of the crowd.
*Have a meet-up-if-you-get-separated plan. Do not count on your cellphones for this purpose.
*Write important information on your forearm in Sharpie. (Emergency contact, drug allergies, etc.)It will wash off eventually. In fact, bring a Sharpie with you to share with others for this purpose.
*Stay hydrated and never pass up an opportunity to use a toilet.
*Wear the right shoes and don’t carry anything you can’t lose.
*LISTEN to the energy and calmly leave the vicinity if you have any doubts about anything. (These are intended to be peaceful gatherings but there have been intimations that infiltrators will try to incite violence and make it look like the protesters caused it. Use your own judgment on this one.) 

Posted in From Kentucky

Kentucky Laws on Abortion: Worse Than Ever for Women

I remember sitting in the pews of a Baptist church as a pastor condemned abortions, because “baby killers don’t deserve heaven.” In true hypocritical fashion, I knew the adults refused to let most of their precious children learn learn about sex ed. But abortions? They dedicated a full hour, because it’s easier to condemn than understand, easier to villianize than to empathize.

The sermons have made their way into Kentucky General Assembly, where a 20 week abortion ban was just approved. I’m not claiming surprise, as the Republicans have been biting at the bit for years to get this legislation passed. Bevin and his followers want to paint the picture of loose women who want to kill babies, that they’re just trying to “save lives and do God’s work.”

This is a false narrative, because if Bevin wanted to save lives then he wouldn’t be repealing Medicaid, he wouldn’t be putting people in more dire straits with Right to Work. He’s essentially stripped away the possibility of getting- already low bar- healthcare and taking money from women’s pockets.

Kentucky has been consistory ranked low on healthcare in general, with women’s healthcare even lower. Right now the state is ranked at 44 (it was 47), with Louisiana being the worst at 50. Kentucky ranks at 47 for Women’s Life Expectancy at Birth, with a 45 for socio-economic and wellbeing, but a 35 for overall care. In other words, basic healthcare is livable, but having a child is dangerous. After having a child, a woman’s economic hardships will be a harsh reality.

Did you know that it on average costs over $300,000 to raise a child in America? Republicans will tell you that you can’t put a cost on a life, but that’s easy to say if one’s world isn’t based primarily in agriculture and coal mining. Kentucky farmers and miners don’t even reach to $20,000 annual these days for household income.

And now let’s get into the pre-birth costs. Prenatal vitamins with health insurance are covered, but without it you’re looking at a $2,000 expense. Then, add in about $450 dollars for bottles, maternity clothes, etc. In addition, add in cost of taking days off from work or having to quit work altogether. With no standard maternity in America, women will have to either use vacation days or just not get paid (or lose their jobs because a boss expects her to be a full time mom now).

“What to Expect” gives great advice for mommies to be, and prepares women for the sticker shock of having a child. With insurance, a baby can cost between $5,000-10,000 for birth alone. But then:

While maternity expenses for insured moms might seem high, the numbers are far higher if you have no insurance at all. The Truven Report put the uninsured cost of having a baby at anywhere from $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth to $50,000 for a C-section. And those prices have increased dramatically in the last four years. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, the cost of having a baby increased 50 percent between 2004 and 2010, and they’ve likely increased since then.

Maternity costs can also vary from state to state by 50 percent and even more within some states, according to the Truven report. A 2014 study by the University of California, San Francisco found that hospital charges for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227, depending on the hospital. For a C-section, costs ranged from $8,312 to nearly $71,000.

Legislators don’t want this narrative. They want to pretend that all moms have magical karma that will prevent them from coming into economic hardships. The fact is though, it’s getting to the point where debt and motherhood are intertwined together as a moral must, that a woman must be expected to carry and birth and raise without mentioning that she can’t afford to even feed herself, how can she afford a child?

How can she afford even an ultrasound? Under the new law, a woman must receive one before she can move forward with the abortion procedure. “The bill requires a physician or qualified technician to perform the ultrasound and position the screen so the woman may view the images.” Already the ACLU has deemed the move reprehensible enough to sue, but in addition to that,  “The medical staff will be required to describe what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any organs or appendages visible.”

Ultrasounds are expensive, and ultimately unnecessary for abortions in the first trimester. However, Kentucky legislators want women to “make the best medical choices possible,” by shaming them into seeing a fetus most women in Kentucky can’t truly afford to bring into the world. There are conflicting articles that report the ultrasound might be an intra-vaginal ultrasound, which is not only highly unnecessary, but also more expensive that the average over the belly ultrasound. Also, an intra-vaginal ultrasound is an invasive procedure, one that even one woman said felt akin to being raped.

So let’s put money aside and wade into darker waters. Rape, sexual assault, and incest are not exclusions to the new 20 week abortion limit. Kentucky ranks 41 in rape crimes, with over 997 reports. One would imagine that women after being raped would be given information about abortion procedures after a rape, but they’re not (bold added by me):

Every hospital with emergency room services shall have a physician or sexual assault nurse available to examine victims of sexual offenses reported to a law enforcement agency. Such examinations must include emergency room treatment, evidence gathering services, tests, and information about services for treatment of venereal disease, pregnancy, and other medical or psychiatric problems. The pregnancy counseling provided to victims of reported sexual offenses may not include abortion counseling or referral. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 216B.400 (Enacted 1974; Last Amended 2006).

Women who have been raped may be given the Plan B pill, but that’s not guaranteed. In the event a teen is raped by her father, well, she will have even worse problems:

Written informed consent with 24-hour waiting period of mother; of one parent or guardian if mother under 18 and unemancipated, except when medical emergency or by judicial proceedings for court to waive parental consent; doctor must notify spouse if possible prior to abortion, if not possible, within 30 days of abortion [notification of spouse has been held unconstitutional by the attorney general. OAG 82-97.]

Let’s paint this picture then: A young girl is raped by her father/brother/uncle, so she goes to the emergency room. When she does, they test her, patch her up, perhaps get her in contact with counseling and police. They don’t mention where to go for an abortion. She discovers she’s pregnant, but her father/brother/uncle won’t give her consent to get the procedure.

Without consent, she would need to find a judge who will believe her, within 20 weeks. The judges will all have waitlists and backlogs. She needs to find a place to get one, unaware that Kentucky only has two abortion clinics in the entire state. Someone has to drive her to Louisville, to EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which has a waitlist and a back log. Not to mention the money, to the tune of over $650 (not including the drugs and consultation fee). How to get that as a teen with no money?

On top of all this, she must go through an intra-vaginal ultrasound, reliving the trauma of her rape, while a doctor tells her what the fetus looks like, and shows her the image. Basically, at this point, it’s state required torture and trauma. These narratives aren’t what get heard at the $70,000 tax payer cost emergency sessions. No, these narratives are called “rare,” blatantly ignoring that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted before reaching 25, some statisticians calling that number hopeful.

Bevin has made it very clear in the fine print of his 20 week abortion limit that he thinks men should have the right to a final say. In here, its stated that a man can sue if a woman gets an abortion without his notice. In other words, a rapist can sue his rape victim over an abortion. A victim of rape can be attacked again, and have her life ruined, and it’s perfectly legal.

Women deserve better, we deserve to be treated as equal citizens, with full control over what happens to our bodies. Treating a fetus with more respect and love than for the women that hold them isn’t godly, it’s tyrannical. Taking away Medicaid, forcing women to pay out of pocket for every single step of a pregnancy isn’t pro-life, its pro-birth. Forcing women to accept a baby from rape and incest is asking her to go through hell, and pay money for the experience for the rest of her life. Giving men a revenge clause for women taking control of their lives and their bodies is beyond shameful, it’s disgusting.

Pro-choice doesn’t mean anti-birth; it means seeing the world as it is, seeing the cruel realities women live with. We need better protections for women to get all the medical treatment they need, and that includes abortions, that includes Medicaid and affordable healthcare, that includes being able to have full access to information at hospitals. We need to start preaching for women instead of against them.