RSSCategory: Civil Rights

Public court proceedings aren’t very public, and that’s the way they like them.

May 5, 2009 | By | Reply More
Public court proceedings aren’t very public, and that’s the way they like them.

Would you like to monitor our government at work? What if there’s a really interesting court proceeding in Massachusetts, but you live far from Massachusetts? But you’d really like to hear the court proceeding live, because this case is about some of the lawsuits that record companies have been bringing under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 501, alleging that individual defendants (many of whom were students) were copyright infringers—that they had illegally used file-sharing software to download and disseminate copyrighted songs without paying royalties. The Plaintiffs were a large group of record companies including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Inc., Atlantic Recording Corporation, Arista Records, LLC, and UMG Recordings, Inc.

In a case styled In re Sony BMG Music Entertainment, 2009 WL 1017505, 7 (1st Circuit, (Mass) 2009), the Court of Appeals recently ruled that I don’t have the right to listen to court deliberations over the Internet, at least in the First District.

In the trial court, Joel Tenenbaum (one of the persons whom the record companies had sued) moved to permit Courtroom View Network to webcast a non-evidentiary motions hearing that was scheduled for January 22, 2009. Presiding Judge Nancy Gertner, citing the keen public interest in the litigation, granted his motion over the objection of the record companies. She thought it would be a good idea to permit webcasting of the motion hearings. She thought that anyone interested in the exercise of the Court’s power should have the opportunity to listen in remotely through a computer. On April 16, 2009, however, the Court of Appeals struck down Judge Gertner’s decision, holding that it was inappropriate to make the inner workings of the private PUBLIC courts easily accessible to the public.

The Court of Appeals said something that a sarcastic lawyer might paraphrase like this: No more of that webcasting nonsense, Judge Gertner!

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Missouri May Allow Pharmacists to Just Say No

May 3, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More
Missouri May Allow Pharmacists to Just Say No

Need the pill? If you live in Missouri, and your pharmacist disagrees with your doctor about your reproductive needs, you’re stuck. No recourse.

That is, if an amended bill passed in the House makes it to law this week. According to this,

The amendment is similar to “conscience legislation” passed in other states that protects pharmacists who object to dispensing birth control medication.

Let your legislators know whether you think personal medical decsions should be up to doctors and patients, or churches acting through politicians.

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Anti-gay, or pro-discrimination?

April 20, 2009 | By | Reply More
Anti-gay, or pro-discrimination?

Following on previous comments about gay marriage (1, 2, 3), prop 8, and the increased change of falling skies… I was very pleased to encounter this extremely well argued vid on Ed Brayton’s blog. He demonstrates both strong logic, and the ability to construct his argument from facts. Something he demonstrates to be lacking in the christian opposition.

If our opponents actually argued like this, the debate might even be interesting!

I’m experiencing some issues with WordPress and embedded video – so click here for the video on Youtube

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Time to yank some professional licenses . . .

April 16, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More
Time to yank some professional licenses . . .

Based on the release of additional torture memos of the Bush Administration, Mike Dunford of The Questionable Authority suggests that it’s time to revoke some professional licenses. I agree. Here’s an excerpt:

Reading these memos, it’s very clear that there are quite a few CIA employees who are allegedly medical professionals. Those people need to find new professions. I would strongly suggest that you take a few minutes – particularly if you’re a doctor or a psychologist – to suggest to your colleagues at the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association that it might be good to take some formal steps along those lines.

For additional information on the way the American Psychological Association facilitated the torture, consider this DI post, based on Amy Goodman’s book, Standing Up to the Madness.

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To abolish child labor, you need to make it visible

April 15, 2009 | By | Reply More
To abolish child labor, you need to make it visible

To abolish child labor, you need to make it visible. That is the point of this disturbing photo essay featuring lots of young children being worked hard in Bangladesh.

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It’s About The Women

April 15, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More
It’s About The Women

And now for a romantic interlude in the otherwise dangerous realm of Afghan social morays vis-a-vis the Taliban. A young couple whose families disapproved of their union ran off to get married. Married, mind. Not live together outside wedlock or anything so dramatic, but married. The result? They were shot outside their mosque after a tribunal of mullahs condemned them. Here is the story.

It is difficult seeing this to remember that this sort of thing is really not consistent with mainstream Islam. But, just as with certain splinter groups of so-called christian sects, the Qu’ran is continually used to justify the persecution of women.

Yes, women. Even though the young man was also killed, it is fairly clear that the main issue the Taliban and other groups like it embrace is the control of women. They bar them from school, they bar them from conversation, they bar them from public view, they bar them. All, it seems, they want from women is to be sex slaves for the males selected to possess them and anything—anything—that threatens that is condemned and, as usual, the women pay the price overwhelmingly. There are other issues covered by strict Sharia Law, but we hear little about that, probably because a lot of it is also covered by more tolerant, liberal interpretations of the law. The dividing line is over the women. It is over giving women a voice, a choice, any freedom at all to say no, and defenders of this who deny that it is a mysoginist pathology seem either to not Get It or are lacking any comprehension that women are people.

To be clear, as I stated, christian groups do this, too. Maybe they don’t kill them in the street, but that’s only because in the West, the police really will arrest them for that.

To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s all about the women, stupid.”

There is no compromising on this, as far as I’m concerned. To allow this is to make all of us a little less human.

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Amazon.com Now Censors As Policy

April 12, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
Amazon.com Now Censors As Policy

Amazon.com has just initiated a new marketing policy. They are stripping away the sales ranking of any book with so-called Adult Content. Here’s their little explanation:

“In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

What this mean in effect, however, is that books primarily with gay and lesbian content are being singled out for exclusion from database searches. It is being applied in a bigoted and surprisingly hamfisted manner to conform to someone’s standard of what constitutes Offensive Material.

Adult Content generally means anything with more than coyly suggested sex in it. However, as a sample of the books not having their sales ranking stripped away, consider these:

–Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds by Chronicle Books (pictures of over 600 naked women)
–Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love” (explicit heterosexual romance);
–Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Wolf and the Dove (explicit heterosexual romance);
–Bertrice Smal’s Skye o’Malley which are all explicit heterosexual romances
–and Alan Moore’s Lost Girls (which is a very explicit sexual graphic novel)

These book sell very well, generally, so it’s obvious that there’s a dollar connection to this new policy. Midlist—the vast majority of books—will be targeted.

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Rush Limbaugh IS a “Brainwashed Nazi.”

April 9, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Rush Limbaugh IS a “Brainwashed Nazi.”

I’ve long subscribed to a rule which says that in political discourse whichever side calls the other side a “Nazi” first loses. The “Nazi rule” means that if you use it, you lose it. The “Nazi rule” holds true almost universally. I say “almost” because the one calling the other a “Nazi” first loses unless the first one using the term “Nazi” has it right.

Recently, a caller on Rush Limbaugh’s show identified himself as a Republican voter, a veteran and opposed to torture and blamed Rush and his ilk for the recent electoral woes of the Republican Party. The caller, ”Charles from Chicago”, called out Limbaugh for his support of torture and blamed Limbaugh and others which supported torture for why the American people have left the GOP in droves.

Rush begged to differ and Charles called Rush a “brainwashed Nazi.” Rush blamed people like Charles for the Obama win, and didn’t stop there but, called Charles “ignorant” among other things.

First, “Brainwashed” is the intensive forced indoctrination of new beliefs to have them supplant old beliefs.

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The inevitable march toward equality continues

April 8, 2009 | By | 24 Replies More
The inevitable march toward equality continues

Iowa & Vermont just became the third and fourth American states to legalise gay marriage. They join Massachusetts and Connecticut in a small but no doubt slowly growing club: states who are no longer bound to bigotry against their own citizens. Running score: Humanity – 4; Dark-Aged superstitious bollocks – 46. But the human beings are making ground.

Also, it seems DC is now willing to recognise same-sex marriages performed in other states. Do I hear a tide turning here? Sploosh, sploosh. Yes. Yes, I do. I’m willing to take bets on how long it takes the remaining 46 to come around (in the case of Calfiornia, to come back around). It might take a decade or even a few decades, but one thing’s for sure: it’s inevitable. Fighting this is as effective as Canute attempting to hold back the ocean.

Predictably, various proponents of the “gay marriage = slippery slope to hell in a handbasket where everyone can marry their sister” or “omg the liberal ay-leet are a-tryin’ to dess-troy Jeee-zuss with their The Gay Agendas!” arguments are coming out of the woodwork, riding their highest horses onto oversized soapboxes and, well, bitching and moaning like a pack of moaning bitches. Some make the arse-backwards claim that The Gays are trying to destory marriage itself! Well, somebody needs to explain that to me. Gay couples want to be a part of something that they’ve been excluded from for their entire lives – how does that equate to wanting to destroy it? All gay people want is the same thing everyone else gets: the right, bestowed at birth, to marry the love of their life. They don’t want to ruin it for anyone, including themselves.

Of course (and as usual) when it comes to fundamentalist hand-wringing loons, the reality of the situation is something completely different. They say it’ll destroy the institution of marriage, they say it’ll mean the end of the family, some even seem to think it’s all part of The Gay Agenda’s plan to have The Gay taught in every schoolroom in the country (and by “The Gay” these people mean “have sex with anything, anywhere, anytime”). However, what they really mean is “Wah. Sob. We’re losing our grip on an exclusive Christian heterosexual privilege that we didn’t earn (but got really, really used to having, puh-raise Jee-zuss) and have really only held onto through laziness/reluctance/fear of losing votes on the part of the legislature and disproportionate fundamentalist representation & lobbying in government going back two or three decades. Oh noes! People are waking up and realising that not only will they not go to Hell for giving The Gays equality, they’re also starting to realise we in the Religious Right are not as numerous or important as everybody used to think we are (and they may be onto the fact that we’re hyper-reactionary & paranoid with delusions of persecution – or perhaps they’ve just realised we’re full of shit)! And not only that, it’s all happening democratically and we on the nutjob fringe don’t have the numbers to stem the tide forever! Oh, and thinking about gays just makes me feel … icky … so they shouldn’t get to marry each other. It’s unnatural … or something. There’s even something in Leviticus about them being, well, icky, in the eyes of God (but we won’t discuss the other parts of the Bible that make selling my daughters into slavery or killing the children of my enemies or massacring, with bears, children who tease bald people just fine – they’re just metaphors, outdated tribal moralities or other things that can be described by various phrases designed to both support our bigotry and deflect criticism of it).”

Tough cheese, brethren. You’ve had it your way for long enough and it’s time to let the other kids play. Time for equality – not “special rights”, not privileges above and beyond those of good ol’ God-fearin’ straight folk – just the same rights and the same privileges everyone who happens to like the opposite sex gets. Hell, some would argue that it’s straight people who’ve had the special treatment for so long and that it’s simply time to level the playing field for everyone.

As any childcare worker or nanny could tell you, the kid who gets spoiled rotten his whole life and suddenly gets asked to include other kids in his sandbox is always going to throw a tantrum. So what do you do? Give him a cuddle and make the others go away? Or tell him to harden up and deal with reality? You can’t insulate yourself from stuff you find objectionable forever. After all, people here in the real world have been tolerating bleating fundie idiocracy and its accompanying rise to inordinate levels of power and influence for years. Well, it’s time for a dose of reality. Time for all hysterical homophobes to harden up and deal with the inevitable progress of fairness & equality – or be remembered in a similar light as those who opposed Rosa Parks sitting where she damn well pleased.

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