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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Don’t talk to me about your religious freedom. Mississippi and North Carolina, you will not get my vote, my money, or my sympathy. In fact, I can’t believe I must still fly into Charlotte in order to get anywhere from Central VA. I will purposely book flights through Atlanta in the future; at least Georgia’s governor had the decency to reject yet another “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.”

Let’s start with the whole public restroom issue. You want to be able to pee in a private stall? Great. You don’t want your daughter in the same bathroom with a transgender woman, what?

Believe me, a person who is born male, and feels like God played a trick on them because inside, in their soul, they feel female, that person is not going to violate your daughter’s bathroom stall. Remember, even in the men’s room there are separate stalls, with locks, so we can ostensibly sit on the pot. She (or he if you prefer, though whether or not they have gone through any surgery will hopefully NOT be a prerequisite for choosing a bathroom) will have spent most of their life being harassed and humiliated – unless it’s Caitlyn Jenner.

Wait, is that what you want at the women’s bathroom doors of Charlotte Airport – morality police? Like Iran, someone to make sure we women are acting and dressing accordingly; that we were born women? How will you check our femaleness? Maybe we should make transgender women wear a big “T” on their chest?

I have a revolutionary idea. Why not do what the rest of Europe has been doing for ages – put a big “WC” on every bathroom, short for “water closet,” and let the chips fall where they may! If you grew up female in the NY/NJ metro area, you never let a “Men’s Room” sign stop you from using it, since there was always a line to the Ladies! Yes, we Northeners are infidels aren’t we.

And marriage equality, still? Extreme religious groups are trying to pass bills in every state to chip away at the HUMAN rights of the LGBT community. Like the right to have an abortion if we so choose; first we saw TRAP laws to limit access to health care clinics that provide abortions, then “personhood bills.” Well guess what, the Supreme Court answered   that sticky question about abortion years ago, and the one about marriage equality? That happened last summer.

But hey, now it’s your religious right to not hire a gay person in MS because of HB1523, or sell condoms in your gas station, or use a bathroom without worrying who’s peeping through the stall! “Churches, religious charities and private business can use the law to legally not serve people whose lifestyles they disagree with. Governments must still provide services, but individual government employees can use the law to opt out.”  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35971038

Yes it is, only it’s not OK to pass a law saying we ALL have to agree with your religious beliefs, because in fact we don’t. The Law of the Land says we don’t!! You see your freedom is just another word for bigotry.

Once upon a time, women didn’t have the vote, and Black folk couldn’t sit wherever they wanted in theaters, buses, or public parks. Let’s remember that our country was founded on religious freedom – the freedom to NOT have any one specific religion make public policy – that is worth repeating since even Thomas Jefferson got this part, he built a LIBRARY in the middle of his academical village, and not a church!

We Americans have the freedom to NOT have any one specific religion make public policy ie we like to keep our church and state separate. Some of us don’t even go to church! This is not the New South I’ve come to love. Here is a picture I took at Cville’s Lee Park after the bill to relocate General Robert E Lee’s statue and rename the park was introduced. It’s time to pick sides America. IMG_4143

 

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What does the number six, a pen and Salman Rushdie have in common? Easy, they are all trending on Twitter.

And the reason is one of America’s highest literary awards, PEN’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award, was given to the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and consequently, in protest for the seemingly “gleeful” way the mag treats Muslims, six authors are boycotting the big gala. Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Tayie Selasi will not be present next week at the big fete, and Salman Rushdie has just one message for them:

“This is a clear cut issue,” he wrote. “The Charlie Hebdo artists were executed in cold blood for drawing satirical cartoons, which is an entirely legitimate activity. It is quite right that PEN should honour their sacrifice and condemn their murder without these disgusting ‘buts’.”

The Hebdo killings, Rushdie wrote, is a “hate crime, just as the anti-Semitic attacks sweeping Europe and almost entirely carried out by Muslims are hate crimes. This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority. It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.”     http://scroll.in/article/723627/salman-rushdie-slams-fellow-writers-for-boycotting-ceremony-to-honour-charlie-hebdo

It seems absurd to me that an award in the field of journalism, for speaking the truth, for freedom of expression and not being restricted by a country’s government, would create such a controversy at this prestigious American institution.

A Washington Post journalist, Jason Rezaian, has been languishing in an Iranian jail for over nine months. President Obama put his name on the national news cycle at the Correspondent’s Dinner. Gathering information as part of your job should not result in jail time, should not put you on a fatwa list, and should not get you gunned down in your office.

Yesterday I saw the Helen Mirren movie with a friend, Woman in Gold. The atrocities of Nazi Germany were portrayed in flashbacks. The Austrians never thought this could happen to them, and yet we saw sane, seemingly normal people standing by, silent, while Jewish people were humiliated in the street, had their stores closed and their artwork confiscated. In fact, Nazi soldiers were welcomed as they invaded their country. Silence and indifference.

When we start to restrict freedom of expression, we begin to silence freedom.

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While surfing the worldwide web this morning, I clicked on a Rolling Stone’s article about the best live bands, “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.” I think I found this via Facebook. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/50-greatest-live-acts-right-now-20130731

Naturally, one of the best was the Parlor Mob. http://www.disarraymagazine.com/2012/03/live-review-parlor-mob-rocks-house-of.html Alright so I’m prejudiced. Since they parted ways, I hear from my Lovely Leo birthday boy what each band member is up to; who they are playing with, flying off to Sweden with, getting married to…  Aside from scoring films, the Rocker is currently playing with 2 bands:

Sikamor Rooney http://sikamorrooney.bigcartel.com/products and

the Black Jesuses http://blackjesuses.com – http://www.surfingmagazine.com/sounds/sounds-the-black-jesus/

Because music is a part of his DNA. But he is also a writer, writing all of the lyrics to his music today. And I thought back to a time in middle school, when he wrote an exceptional essay on censorship. We were proud that at such a young age, he could feel so passionately about artistic freedom.

So with some sense of danger, I sought out the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Because it’s not OK with me when drugstores try to limit my access to a magazine. I found it surreptitiously bundled in front of the very last cashier at our local Barnes and Noble, not in its usual spot among all the other magazine racks. And somehow the cashier gave off a sinister vibe, or maybe it was me, like I was purchasing contraband. photo

And the article about the Boston Bomber was compelling and answered many questions we’ve all been asking, like how can such a normal looking kid, a kid who was in college and became a citizen last year, become a monster? I know in today’s world that magazine article was a click away, but in a small way, I was making a point. And now we hear that the magazine doubled their news stand sales this month…so you see censors, some things have unintended consequences.

You may not agree with me, but lucky for us we live in a country where writers can speak the truth not only to power, but to the world.

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Sit down, take a load off. We’re not talking about Weight Watchers here; we’re going to talk about warrantless wiretapping. Just because you think they’re watching you…doesn’t mean they are, does it? I have to admit that conspiracy theories will always get my attention. Then I move on, attributing most of the paranoid delusional rhetoric to a bunch of crazies. But this past weekend, I was staying up late with Real Time and Bill Maher on HBO. Getting the TV fixed definitely cuts into my healthy sleep habits. Welcome back Bill to your new season you are the Left’s answer to Rush Limbaugh. Maher routinely comes up with one or two-liners like this: “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s philosophically wrong with Republicans. It’s like asking what’s intellectually wrong with lobsters.” http://www.real-time-with-bill-maher-blog.com/real-time-with-bill-maher-blog/2013/1/18/party-foul.html

But his closing soliloquy left me sleepless in Cville. Now it’s probably not a good idea to lay your head down on your pillow after hearing that we Americans have just been giving most of our fundamental rights away without so much as a whimper. I’m talking about all of us, red and blue Americans and any other colorful configurations. He pooh poohed the idea that we are losing our 2nd Amendment rights and got right to the heart of the matter, saying,

“The Senate quietly reauthorized the National Defense Authorization Act while everyone was so concerned about the fiscal cliff, and there wasn’t even a peep out of the “freedom” crowd. In fact, people seem to be okay with government surveillance and warrantless wiretapping at this point….Does anyone care that this is the new normal?” I was lying awake and thinking about baby robotic drones overhead stealing my ideas about how to make a better lasagna.

Then I read this – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/google-transparency-report_n_2537153.html Now everybody knows that one usually needs to acquire a warrant from a judge before snooping through a private citizen’s home. But your email and internet searches are another matter; maybe your mail box is federally protected, but your inbox is fair game. “From July to December 2012, Google revealed, the company received 8,438 total requests for information about 14,791 users or accounts in the United States. Requests were up 34 percent from 2011 to 2012.” Yes folks, requests from law enforcement went up 34%!! I wonder what the stats will be for 2012 to 2013. The article goes on to say that only 22% of the time is a warrant involved; the FBI and/or police will simply write up an administrative subpoena.

It’s good to know that privacy advocates and Google (Facebook would you chime in here) are trying to reverse this trend, and hats off to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for passing an amendment to reform the very broad law ironically titled the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was passed by Congress in 1986 based on technology at the time. In 1986 the Rocker was 2 years old and we all were wearing shoulder pads! Leahy spearheaded his plan for governing internet surveillance in November saying this is the first step in corralling the Department of Justice, “…growing and unwelcome intrusion into our private life in cyberspace.” Still I’m not too hopeful it will go anywhere in our congenial House of Representatives.

The Tea Partyiers are worried the government will take away all their guns; that helicopters will be landing in their back yards. That’s why they need assault weapons. Maybe the “freedom” they are fighting for is misleading? Maybe both parties need to worry more about how incrementally we have given up our right to privacy. Background checks to buy a lethal weapon? Sure. Emails and social media about a shoe sale in Cville – What? Technology races ahead while civil liberty law limps along trying to play catch-up.
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Yesterday I got my car back. It was in the shop again, for four days, because it gave up the ghost in front of a coffee shop. Again. The first time it didn’t start, my ’99 navy Volvo was parked in front of a Starbucks. That was about a month ago. This time it was a Greenberry’s holding the blue baron captive; the local watering hole is the spot for town and gown to meet. The day my car was sprung, the day the mechanic told me to stay away from coffee shops and next time he’d bring a lighter so the old girl could go out in a blaze of glory, yesterday the humidity broke and it was an absolutely glorious day. I opened the sunroof along with the windows, and I felt like a teenager again, free – cocooned in my semi-safe, might stop at any moment jalopy.

Don’t ask me how I could jump from this seriously demented tale of a car and a coffee shop to the war in Afghanistan, but I’m going to try. I was listening to an ex-Marine, journalist speak at The Miller Center. This is their mission – “The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.” One of the most wonderful things about this town, is that these lectures are free to the public.

Matt Pottinger was working for the Wall Street Journal when he joined the Marines in 2005. He talked about how, contrary to what we might think, people who have had military experience of their own, are less likely to recommend going to war. But that when they do, they go all out. People who have not had any military experience, are more likely to want war….and then they want to go to war incrementally. Like hey, let’s order a no-fly zone, or a blockade. The guys with combat experience will go to war to win it! And we now have more legislators in DC without military experience than at any other time in history.

So here are my early morning thoughts. Can we actually win a war on terrorism? Isn’t it like saying we can win a war on drugs, or on crime? In my mind, I’d like to believe that the elite Seal and special ops troops, those 30 brave Americans  shot down this past weekend, did not die in vain. If we truly want to make life better for the Afghan people, if we want to help nurture a free and open society, an alternative to the Taliban’s rule of law, we had better learn their language and their customs; we had better build wells and hospitals and schools.

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

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