Arts Commission Veto Overridden by House and Senate

29-10

Thank you all for calling, e-mailing, and sharing the post! I seem to have gotten something in my eyes, immensely grateful to all of you.

Will update on further arts votes and the rape crisis center votes as well, but I don’t have time to liveblog today.

UPDATE:

29-12

Art grant money survives as well.

Nikki Haley also vetoed funding to help rape victims

Nikki Haley looks like Human Ursula, enough said

I know, you’re all probably sick of hearing about how horrible my governor is.  In defense of my homestate, we didn’t *all* vote for her and her approval rating is not great, though depressingly high all things considered.

I wrote about the Arts Commission and many of you wrote on my behalf, for which I am immensely grateful.  This other issue, the one of defunding rape crisis centers is less personal to me, but even crueler to people of South Carolina.  Of course, Nikki Haley is the same woman who said, “Women don’t care about contraception”, so perhaps it is unreasonable to be surprised that she is saying that helping victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse is a distraction from *real* health issues.

The good news is that we’re only seventh in the country for women being killed by men!  There are states worse than us!

The SCCADVASA has a statement that’s worth reading, which includes the following info:

The $453,956 that the Governor vetoed will result in a 37% decrease in funding for rape crisis centers.  In FY 11-12, the total amount distributed to rape crisis centers was $648,114, which included both recurring and non-recurring funds.  If the veto stands, the total amount available for programs serving the entire state will be only he recurring $403,956.

They also have a letter from a survivor, one that I cannot read without crying:

The man has yet to be caught, but when he is caught, I KNOW I can call the rape crisis center and they will be with me as I identify him. They will be with me as they prosecute him. That gives me COMFORT. Comfort KNOWING that these individuals witness the pain of women EVERYDAY who are raped. The comfort that they are out there HELPING individuals gain back SOME of their normal life. They help women become survivor, not victims as best they can.

I did NOT choose to be raped that night. I was ASLEEP in MY HOME, yet you are cutting a budget for people that did NOTHING WRONG!!!!! They did NOT choose this pain, they were forced upon with this pain. HOW CAN YOU TAKE WHAT HELP, COMFORT, SUPPORT they have????? How can you take that away from them, from me, for a mother and father’s daughter?????

Here are the contact links again if you want to tell the legislature to override:

All the Senators: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=SMEMBERS

All the House Members: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=HMEMBERS

The good news is that Nikki Haley is making lots of people hate her.  Ms. covered the story and we’ve gotten delightful articles, including one that names her TART of the year — TART being the “Taxes Are Rape Too” group.  Many of the people who have contacted the legislature have gotten positive responses, so there is hope.

Help me save South Carolina, the arts, and my mom

Over the weekend, the governor, Nikki Haley, destroyed the South Carolina Commission for the Arts — the cut was such that the 20 people who work there cannot show up to work today, can’t even go into their building, because of liability issues.  The arts in South Carolina brings in $9.2 billion and creates 78,000 jobs at a cost of 1.9 million to the Arts Commission.  It’s a phenomenally stupid cut — our state has one of the two best arts in education programs in the country!  We don’t do a lot well in South Carolina, but this is one of the few we really do.  And now we’re about to be the only state in the country without a public arts agency.

This is political, but I have to let you know it’s deeply personal as well.  I have worked for the Commission, I know everyone who works there, the arts and arts education are extremely important to me, and my mother is the president of the foundation board.  My mother has worked with them for over half of my life — for 15 years she has been on their board and this is her third year as president. Nikki Haley is messing with my mother — that is NOT COOL.

There is good news!  The SC legislature is returning next week to vote on it — the problem is that it is summer vacation and they may not all show.  They also may not get the 2/3rds majority needed to overturn the vetoes.  I need your help.  My mom needs your help.  My state, which is run by idiots but full of wonderful people, needs your help.

Please contact the SC Representatives and Senators and urge them to vote to override Vetoes #1 and #21 – to keep the doors open at the Arts Commission!  Also, let them know that the rest of the vetoes are pretty crappy too — taking money from teachers, schools, important scientific research, and programs to help victims of sexual violence.

Here’s a single contact form to get in touch with:

All the Senators: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=SMEMBERS

All the House Members: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=HMEMBERS

I know many of you aren’t from my state, but I think FtB has the power and this movement has the power to put some pressure on these people, and if you’re from South Carolina, you must do this!  Tell them to show up!  Tell them to override the vetoes!  Help my mom!

Ken May, Executive Director, “The state can’t wrest my cellphone from my grip”

EDIT: Passing the need on and sharing is something that you can do to help even if you don’t contact the politicians, please share. And it is on reddit.http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/w9og0/help_me_save_south_carolina_the_arts_and_my_mom/

South Carolina Judge: I Sentence You to Read the Bible

Perhaps I should just start a regular feature called “My Dumb Home State”.  South Carolina is known basically for being an embarrassment, and we like to continue that tradition thoroughly and frequently.  You may or may not remember that the ACLU sued a prison in SC for only allowing the inmates access to one book, The Bible.

A woman was convicted of drunk driving and, among her other sentences, was also sentenced by the judge to read and write a book report on the Book of Job.  Aside from the arbitrariness of the sentence, it is also, at best, extremely borderline on that whole church/state separation issue.  According to the news report, the assignment was an attempt on the judge to be compassionate by showing that God could hurt people and then treat them well in the end — it was a way of communicating to the woman that, though her life had been difficult, it wouldn’t necessarily always be so.

I can see the compassion of the statement he was trying to convey, though I am not sure that Job is the best way to get that message across.  It is one of the stories that most demonstrates the capriciousness and chaotic neutral approach that God generally takes.  It is very easy to hate God in that story; it’s difficult not to.  I’m also sure that there are many other, better stories of people who were real who had difficult lives and went to jail but ended up being quite successful (Danny Trejo, Stephen Fry, etc.).

As compassionate as it is though, that is the job of her pastor, not of her judge.  He has no place trying to guide her spiritual life and certainly no place using the authority of the state to enforce it.  I don’t think he is a bad guy and, as mistakes go, I think this is one that doesn’t begin to measure up to not allowing prisoners to read anything but The Bible, but that doesn’t make it OK either.

Hey Girls: You Deserve Cancer, you sluts!

I live in a state that is often accused of being the worst.  We have a saying in South Carolina: “Thank God for Mississippi!”  When it comes to diseases and listening to the religious right being absolutely beyond stupid, we are pretty close to the bottom.

There is a wonderful vaccine that prevents several kinds of cancer, including almost all cervical cancer, anal cancer, and other cancers as well.  The vaccine also reduces the risk of fertility problems!  The problem is that the vaccine prevents HPV, something people can get through sex.  It should be noted, however, that this is NOT the only way people get HPV.  The thing is, getting HPV from a non-human object can actually happen.  In that study, over half of the virgins tested had HPV.

And it’s frustrating that I should even have to make that point.  Sex is good, sex is healthy, sex is natural, sex should be accepted as an important part of the human condition.  But you don’t have to be a raging slut/whore/liberal to get HPV.

Which is why it is especially tragic that, in a state with incredibly high cervical cancer rates (9th in deaths in the nation, three times higher in African American women), less than 20% of eligible women are getting this vaccine.  I am sure the number is even lower for eligible young men.  Why? Because we won’t enact a mandate like we have for other vaccines.  And, just last week, the house would not overrule a veto from our evil governor, Nikki Haley, that prevents schools from getting funding to provide information on the vaccine.  Not to force anyone to have it, but to tell people it exists.

Nikki Haley: It’s better for people to die than for parents to possibly have to discuss sex with their children.

Also, if you are under 26, male or female, you should get the Gardasil vaccine.  For yourself and for others.

GARDASIL is the only human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV. In girls and young women ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 2 types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. In boys and young men ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 90% of genital warts cases.

GARDASIL also helps protect girls and young women ages 9 to 26 against 70% of vaginal cancer cases and up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases.

Since I’ve had mine, does that mean I’m contractually obligated to be a slut/whore/liberal now?

Here are some sobering statistics given in the hopes of scaring people into getting the jab.

This is not just a war on women

This isn’t just a war on women, it’s a war on dignity, it’s a war on common decency, it’s a war on the GOP’s own conservative principles.  When someone accuses liberals of being smug and turning our country into a “nanny state”, ask them which party thinks women are too stupid to make their own decisions about their body.

Ask them which party thinks a woman needs a sonogram, an intravaginal ultrasound, a lecture, and a 72-hour waiting period to be able to make a choice about their body.

This is not just a war on women, it’s a war against progress, it’s a war against economic recovery, it’s a war of obstructionism. It’s a war for gaining political points instead of actually helping people.

In 2011, there were 1100 bills about reproductive rights introduced at the state level; 135 passed.  So far this year, 45 states have considered 944 bills about reproductive rights.  Tell me, which of these bills created a job?  These jaded conservatives don’t think all of these bills will pass, they just want to prevent anyone else from actually governing.

Nikki Haley was almost right — women don’t care ONLY about contraception — so give us our rights so that you can get on with real legislation.

Women are not doing OK.  Our unemployment rate has stayed stagnate in the past three years.  88% of the jobs in the recovery have gone to men.  The rate of poverty for women is over 25% higher than that of men.  In South Carolina, we still make only 76 cents to the dollar.

This is not just a war on women, this is a war on the first amendment — on freedom of speech, on freedom of religion.

This is a war trying to force the Christian version of Sharia law into our secular constitution.

This is a war trying to make it so the 1960s never happened.  To take the US back to an imaginary time when women held “aspirin between their knees” and didn’t have sex.  Where it’s ok to repeal equal pay laws because “men care more about money.”  In a country where 2/3 of women are the primary or co-breadwinners of their family.  It’s a war to make women’s only function to be married with children.

To create a world where we can arrest women for having a miscarriage and make killing abortion doctors Justifiable Homicide.  Where Maryland can justify cutting pre-school funding because women should be at home, NOT working.  Where Wisconsin can introduce a bill designating single parenting as child abuse.

Where Arizona can demand women prove they’re taking birth control for a REAL medical reason, as though NOT GETTING PREGNANT wasn’t a real medical concern.  This in a country where a woman is fourteen times more likely to die in childbirth than if she lived in Greece.  That sounds like a real medical concern to me.

They want to create a land where Arizona doctors can legally lie to women if they think it will prevent them from getting an abortion.  Where wife beating is LEGAL in Topeka, KS.  Where the ER can refuse to save a woman’s life if it might kill her unborn child.

Where democrats are so afraid of the religious right that the Obama administration ignored science and the advice of the medical community and prevented Plan B from being over-the-counter.  WHAT IS SCIENCE FOR?  Apparently just for Christian Conservatives to dismiss as a “liberal agenda”, the facts so rarely being on their side.

This is not just a war on women, it is a war on facts, it is a war on reality, it is a war on America.  Where women are worth less than fetuses, where Congress fights for horse contraception but not for women’s contraception.  Where conservatives are either ignorant or liars about how birth control works.  Where Susan Komen would rather cut funding to save women from breast cancer than be associated with Planned Parenthood.

This is not just a war on women.  It is not a war on women’s rights, it is a war on human rights.

But it is not hopeless.

Planned Parenthood raised over $400,000 when Susan Komen dropped them.  Republican women are starting to speak out for women, women like us.  Women like Senators Olympia Snowe and Lisa Murkowski. Women like Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Though it had opposition — far more opposition than I am comfortable with — the Violence Against Women Act passed the US Senate.  And there are things we can do.  We can vote this November for the president.

The Supreme Court has four justices over 70 and Mitt Romney’s chair of judiciary appointments is Robert Bork.

Robert Bork, the man Reagan failed to get on the Supreme Court 15 years ago.  Robert Bork who doesn’t believe in the right to contraception, much less abortion, who thinks discriminating against women is QUOTE “not possible”, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  I know who I don’t want putting people on our already too anti-woman court.

We can vote.  We can run.  We can refuse to shut up.  We can tell our friends, our lovers, our husbands, our brothers, our sons.

We can fight and we will fight.

We’ve been sitting still for too long, but now we’re standing up and we will not be silenced.  I can’t speak for you, but I have no intention of sitting back down.

Thank you.

(Speech given at the Unite Against the War on Women Rally in SC)

SATURDAY: I’m Speaking Against the War on Women

The following is from the press release from the SC part of the Unite Against the War on Women.  I will be speaking at the State House on Saturday, at some point between 11:30AM and 1PM.  If you are in South Carolina, please come, if you are elsewhere, please find your local event and participate.  It seems the white male Christian establishment is determined to take away women’s control of their own bodies, women and men need to stand up for rights that we shouldn’t have to fight for in the first place.

The religious right shouldn’t be imposing their version of sharia on my body.

South Carolina Answers the CALL TO ACTION: UniteWomen.org Rally at Statehouse 4/28

A rapidly growing movement called UniteWomen.org is poised to push back on legislative efforts to erode women’s access to equal pay, reproductive healthcare, and protection from violence, with protest marches and rallies across the country on Saturday, April 28. The SC Rally will be held on the Statehouse grounds, Gervais Street side, from 11:30-1:00, with live music beginning at 11:00. This action is joined by 55 concurrent events planned nationwide and includes many high profile state and national leaders – a historic event that South Carolinians are proud to join and support.

The newly-minted organization has garnered more than 21,000 members nationally in less than two months, demonstrating the tremendous political will and commitment across the country to fight back against attempts to turn back the clock on women’s rights.

In addition to the April 28 actions, UniteWomen.org is also looking long-term to future actions and activity for the group. “We will not suffer the burdens of those whose ambitions would be fulfilled by the destruction of the human worth of mothers, sisters and daughters of this great nation,” founder Karen Teegarden said.

This all hits close to home for South Carolinians. Governor Nikki Haley has made the inaccurate statement that “Women don’t care about contraception.” This is actually of great concern for our state, where 3 out of 10 women will become pregnant by the age of twenty and 58 percent of all pregnancies are unintentional. Unintended pregnancies have a huge economic impact on our state. Births to teen mothers alone cost South Carolina taxpayers $197 million annually.

In addition:

 Nearly half of new sexually transmitted diseases in SC are diagnosed in young people age 15 to 24. South Carolina is also considered an HIV “Hot Spot”, with the 8th highest AIDS rate in the U.S., and 1 out of 5 new AIDS cases here are in people age 25 and under, with minority women especially at risk.

Yet despite all of these grim statistics, legislative support remains for abstinence-only sex education, an obvious disservice to our communities. To make matters worse, for 6 out of 10 women of all ages in the state, family planning clinics are their only source of healthcare, yet the clinics remain a target for budget cuts and legislative restrictions.

The time is right for such an event to stem the rising tide against women’s rights. SC Rally Organizer, Chris Cherry, has only just taken the reins of the South Carolina event and found tremendous enthusiasm in the community. In addition to support from volunteer organizations all over the state, many community leaders are stepping forward to join in the fight to protect the civil liberties of South Carolina women. Pioneers of the women’s rights movement in the 1970’s have answered the call toaction and will be speaking at this rally. “This is a fight that we thought was already won,” Chris said, “and now it is more evident than ever that we have to be firm in our resolve to secure those protections for American women.”

Chris has appeared on Progressive Talk Radio 1230 with Frank Knapp and the Power Hour Call-in show to discuss the upcoming rally. She’s participating in a round table on the War on Women and women’s rights issues on Thursday April 19th at 1:00pm PST/ 4:00pm EST with Steve Gelder of New Dissident Radio (http://www.newdissidentradio.com/ listen live or podcast). Chris will have a follow-up interview with Frank and making announcements regarding special guests and speakers for the Rally on Thursday, April 26th at 5:44 pm. Contact her directly to book speaking engagements or for quotes.

A full list of national endorsements and national media coverage can be found at UniteWomen.org.

No Profanity Ordinance? Bullshit.

Today I read a news story in The State and WIS that said the Columbia Police Department is going to be enforcing a “no profanity” law within the city limits.

The police spokeswoman said: “If they want to curse, do it in their own home. Why do you have to do it in park where they are other children, other people who will. This, it’s just quite frankly, pretty rude.”

Rudeness is not illegal and no one has the right not to be offended. Furthermore, there is no clear definition of what is considered profane. There is no list of forbidden words, phrases, or subjects available to anyone that I am aware of. Or is it like pornography, we are just supposed to know it when we see it? How can they justify this, or is it just an effort to put up signs to stop people complaining at meetings?

Furthermore, based on the ordinance that they are citing, I simply do not think that someone dropping an F-bomb qualifies as Disorderly Conduct as it is defined in ordinance 14-91, the ordinance listed on the sign.

It shall be unlawful for any person within the city limits to engage in the following conduct, knowing or having reasonable grounds to know that it will tend to promote or provoke a fight, assault or brawl.

Am I to believe that simply cursing within earshot of someone is attempting to provoke a fight? Is that something any reasonable person thinks? The ordinance is clearly NOT about profanity — the term “profanity” does not appear at all — putting that on a sign is an absurd stretch.

A law banning profanity would be unconstitutional, but the law they cite doesn’t even do that! They’ve just made it up!

Atheist vs Christian Billboard: Let’s Be Friends

Nearly a month ago, I introduced you to the Columbia Coalition of Reason, which had put up a billboard inviting local non-theists to contact us.  The reaction from Christians was predominantly negative, but we also received a lot of very positive responses from both non-believers and believers.

This week, a local church decided to put up a billboard in the same location in the digital rotation along with our billboard as a direct rebuttal.

This is fantastic.  One, it means we’re in the news again, and two, it means we’ve opened a dialogue with local people of faith.

Dustin Tucker, the guy who has coordinated the billboard effort, was interviewed by local TV station WLTX and spoke to how great it was that the opposing view was speaking up and expressed hope that the atheists would be able to do some sort of joint charity effort with Park Street Baptist Church, something that’s already in the works.

Unlike the responses to the previous news stories, the ones to this seem much more level and reasonable.  Here are my two favorites:

Wow…if the billboards can co-exist..perhaps the believers and non-believers will find a way to co-exist as well.

If one wants to see God look into the eyes of a child and you will see Innocent little angels. Those who choose not to believe live very empty lives.

I love kids, don’t get me wrong, but they are definitely demons.

If you’d like to know more about the billboards you can go over to Friendly Atheist, where the president of the Pastafarians at USC has done a nice write up, go listen to the podcast I did at A Matter of Doubt, or:

TUNE IN TONIGHT!  (Sunday, 12/18) at 8PM EST to Reason Podcast where someone from the group will be chatting about it live!

“Personhood” Amendments

The following amendment is up for a vote in Mississippi this year:

“SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:

Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Friendly UterusThis would ban all forms of hormonal birth control, IVF, and make pregnant women who have miscarriages or who have fertilized eggs that fail to implant be criminally liable for murder.  Pregnancy doesn’t occur until after implantation, which doesn’t occur in up to 70% of fertilizations.  If a fertilized egg doesn’t implant, do these people really think that that is a death?  Am I committing manslaughter if my uterus just isn’t a friendly enough host?

Pregnant women have been arrested on murder charges for attempting suicide while pregnant and for having miscarriages, it’s absolute insanity.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

And there’s this awesome fact from my home state:

South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.

Now, I admit that I am extremely pro-choice.  I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to be pregnant if they don’t want to be.  If the fetus isn’t viable, this means access to abortion, if the fetus is viable, this means access to inducing labor.  Regardless of the personhood status of a fetus, I don’t believe in enslaving one person to keep another person alive.  And if you think that’s a ridiculous analogy, explain to me “pro-life” people who believe in exceptions for rape and incest — these people don’t think abortion is murder, or they wouldn’t allow exceptions, they believe it is a punishment for women who have sex.

Being pregnant is a dangerous condition — to force someone to take on the risks against their will is cruel.  Women develop chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, they die from complications, they are bankrupted by the high medical costs (it can cost $7000 for a birth without complications, premies can cost upwards of $100,000), and they are much more likely to be beaten or murdered.

And while maternal death rates in the US are lower than in the developing world, we’re 50th in the world.  Meaning there are 49 countries where a woman is less likely to die from being pregnant than in the good old US of A.  And for “each death, experts estimate, there are about 50 instances of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth that are life-threatening or cause permanent damage.”  Why don’t you Google Image Search “fistula” and “vaginal prolapse”?

But even if you’re against abortion — and I hesitate to use the term pro-life here because I feel like that term should only apply to people who are also against the death penalty — surely you are for women not constantly being pregnant, right?  All those things I just listed are much more likely to impact women who get pregnant many times, surely birth control is a wonderful compromise that allows fewer abortions, fewer pregnancies, and more wanted children, right?

So why this insane amendment that says life begins before pregnancy does?  And if you’re so gung-ho pro-baby, why an amendment that makes IVF illegal?  And if you consider yourself pro-life, don’t you want doctors to be able to save the life of women with ectopic pregnancies?  Shouldn’t our government be trying to improve the economy and get people jobs, not trying to simplify personal moral choices into completely cartoonish slogans?

Rachel Maddow does a heroic job here of explaining the problem: