First Amendment Issues are NOT (necessarily) Free Speech Issues

All freaky, kinky, queer women are human beings.

Not all human beings are freaky, kinky, queer women (more’s the pity).

So how is that related to the first amendment? The First Amendment (FA) protects more than just speech. It protects a total of 5 separate rights. Let’s take a look at the full text and then break it down:

[Read more…]

Republicans Really Don’t Know Their Own Brand

The Tampa Bay Times does periodic surveys of people whom they consider to be important political insiders in the Sunshine State. The responses are published without names attached but with political affiliations. The responses from Republicans to the question, “how [has] President Trump … influenced the Republican Party in Florida” included some particularly interesting bits:

Anonymous Republican: For the absolute worst. As a Republican, I can say we used to be a Party of true principles. Lower taxes, less government, more personal responsibility. It was a unifying and motivating force. Trump has, nationally and sadly increasingly on the state level, made the GOP a cult of personality. There is no guiding philosophy beyond are you for or against Trump, and that is overwhelmingly sad and disgusting.

Anonymous Republican: People don’t care about facts anymore;

Anonymous Republican: He has created a mindless mass of lemmings who are willing to support anyone he deems worthy of leading the cult.

Anonymous Republican: For the worse. Much more crass and angry. Only concern is staying in power.;

Anonymous Republican: The Republican Party is now a populist, protectionist party more motivated by emotionalism, anger and fake news than logic, reason and common sense.;

and, last but most interestingly these two:

Anonymous Republican: It is not just in Florida, it is nationwide of course. His reign of terror over the GOP will be short lived hopefully as a one term President, if it is longer, the GOP as a party may never recover. Never has our party and nation been in more desperate need of bold leaders who stand for the good of the people, right now we have the opposite of that in Trump, a truly sad chapter in the history of our country.;

Anonymous Republican: It is unrecognizable from the GOP of 4 years ago. There is a coarseness and meanness that has taken over with the grassroots/base. There is a willingness to disregard policy, truth, science, experience, and nuance when it comes to policy. Current “leaders” act anything but preferring to embrace the form of a spineless coward. The current party is driving away young voters at a record pace and long term it is on a unsustainable path. BUT we always have the Democrats propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. (However, relying on the other side to screw up is poor strategy);

Is there anything more pathetic than political party insiders hiding behind anonymity while insisting that their party is in “desperate need of bold leaders”?

But this is not the only area in which Florida’s political elites demonstrate their utter lack of self-awareness. This is the party who has taken money to fight Surgeon General’s warnings on cigarettes and want the public to believe it’s more likely that the founders wanted a Howitzer in every back yard than that human caused atmospheric carbon dioxide increases affect the radiative energy balance of the planet. This party is suddenly “more motivated by emotionalism, anger and fake news than logic, reason and common sense”.

Sorry, Republicans, you made the choice to embrace emotionalism, anger & fake news and forsake logic, reason & common sense ages ago. Trump didn’t change your values. Trump simply doesn’t have the skill or desire to convincingly deny that tribalism, lies and anger are, in fact, the most salient Republican values of at least the last 25 years.

Seneca Falls: 170 Years Ago This Weekend

One hundred seventy years ago this weekend (July 19-20, 1848), a group of 68 women and 32 men (or thereabouts*1) signed the Declaration of Sentiments at the climax of The Seneca Falls Convention. The document paralleled the Declaration of Independence in form, style, and tone. This wasn’t an accident: when Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her great work A Vindication of the Rights of Men, she herself was paralleling in language (such as the use of “sublime”) and in many of the arguments Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke. Though she made truly novel arguments as well, and many of them, one line of critique in AVRM was that Burke’s traditionalism and conservatism betray his own goals. In short, she thought he wrote of aspiring to ideals that the tactics and policies he advocated would make difficult or impossible to achieve.

The attendees of The Seneca Falls Convention felt much the same way about the founders of the United States of America. While they, like Wollstonecraft two generations before, were willing to part dramatically with the thinking of prominent patriarchal men, again like Wollstonecraft they sought to use the ideals and rhetoric of those patriarchs to gain something like a common understanding of what a nation and a society should be, then used their own arguments to show that current social and political policies undermined those goals.

They also paralleled the abolitionist activism of the time: largely because they were the abolitionist movement. TSFC came about because Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attended London’s World Anti-Slavery Convention but were refused the ability to participate on the basis of gender.*2 The attendees of TSFC itself were largely Quakers and (almost?) entirely abolitionists. The natal feminist movement, then, was a subset of the anti-racist Abolitionist movement. As that mother movement made frequent rhetorical use of references to the Declaration of Independence, from today’s historical position we can another reason why something of the form of the Declaration of Sentiments was nearly inevitable.

Lucretia Mott was probably the best known organizer speaking globally, but Stanton was likely the best known and/or best respected in the Seneca County/Finger Lakes area. Stanton, as a non-Quaker, was also important in broadening the attendance beyond the local Quaker community which perhaps boosted the national importance of TSFC by ensuring it could not be dismissed as a sectarian activity relevant only to a minority religion. Together with their families – Mott’s sister Martha Coffin Wright was a stationmaster on the underground railroad and a respected activist in her own right, and Mott’s and Stanton’s husbands, both prominent abolitionists – the M’Clintock family and a woman named Jane Hunt, they were able to generate momentum for the conference quite quickly. It drew mainly locals, despite being advertised by Frederick Douglass in his national abolitionist paper, the North Star, and a few other outlets beyond the Finger Lakes area. But with Mott, Stanton, and Douglass in attendance, it did not lack for star power.

Many things that we would not now find controversial were debated seriously at the conference. In the crafting of the Declaration of Sentiments, Mott herself argued against including a women’s suffrage provision. Eventually, however, the arguments that this was to be an aspirational document and also that it would piss off the patriarchs with or without a suffrage provision convinced Mott and any other doubters. In the end, they produced this:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master—the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women—the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.

He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education—all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in Church as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation,—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.

Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration.

I think it is useful, from time to time, to revisit this document to see exactly what we have and have not achieved over the last 170 years. If you have any thoughts on any of these provisions, I’d love to see them below. Over the rest of the summer, I plan to produce periodic posts contemplating one of these provisions at a time. Your comments might just help me decide which provisions need attention, and if I use any of your observations, I’ll certainly credit you.

 

*1: We can, of course, not access information about the gender identity of those involved, but we can say that 68 persons were assigned to the gender role woman and 32 to the gender role man.

*2: They knew going in that they would be initially excluded, but there was to be a resolution allowing women to fully participate. The resolution failed and Mott and Stanton were left having traveled across the Atlantic only to be turned away at the door – presumably because they already had too many people working to end slavery and had to turn away half.

Will You Fucking Stop With This Silver Lining Shit?

So many people are suddenly writing pieces about how overturning Planned Parenthood v Casey (which is, in fact, the controlling precedent on abortion now), queer marriage, and anti-discrimination laws are a losing strategy for the GOP to put a shiny, happy face on the transformation of SCOTUS.

NO. If you’re tempted to go with this reaction, stop it right the fuck now. We do not sit back and let the Republicans enact hostility and hatred. It’s not even that there’s no truth in the position. Yes, inevitably conservative families will see relatives die. Yes, the 80% of people that support the right to have an abortion in at least some cases do constitute a large majority. Yes, if the 33% who believe that abortion should be legal in most cases and the 24% who believe that it should be legal in at least some cases could truly hurt the GOP if they voted to repudiate the fuckers.

But the implied argument is this: Ireland voted in abortion restrictions with Amendment 8 in 1983, sure, but after 35 years, innumerable hardships, and an uncounted number of deaths Ireland got the sympathetic victim of its anti-abortion policies that allowed them to overturn the provisions in 2018. These things don’t last, they’re saying. We’ll have our Savita Halappanavar, they’re saying. That makes everything okay, they’re saying.

Jesus Fried Chicken, NO!

The fact that we will inevitably have our Savita Halappanavars is exactly what makes this NOT OKAY.

Yes, the GOP has been sowing the seeds of its own destruction for decades now.

Yes, the GOP enjoyed the freedom to vote for abortion restrictions that would never be enforceable, and thus used abortion bills to rally its base while the democratic base remained unenthused because democrats never bothered to stand up and fight, relying on the courts to do their work instead.

Yes, that means that individual GOP members of state legislatures are going to have to make more consequential decisions than they have in the past, they’re going to have to face a higher likelihood of accountability than they have in the past.

THAT DOESN’T MAKE THE LIVES OF WOMEN THE GOP WILL END INTO ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES.

IT DOESN’T MAKE THE LIVES OF TRANS FOLK WHOM THE GOP MIGHT KILL INTO ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES.*1

NONE OF THIS IS OKAY.

THERE IS NO SILVER LINING.

 


*1: I’m well aware that people of other genders may very well die too, but given the total numbers of deaths expected, I don’t feel as comfortable saying that people of other genders are guaranteed to die, whereas demographically the deaths of women are guaranteed.

We’re All Dead

I’m going to be writing about this over and over again, so get used to it, but this is merely the first announcement so it will be short:

Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States is retiring. We already have a court dominated by republican picks. As a “centrist” Kennedy is far to the right of where we were until Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall. The center of the court has been pushed and pushed, and now after the Senate republicans stole the seat that was Obama’s to nominate and fill, Trump will nominate his second justice.

Abortion will be illegal in a huge number of states within 3 months of the end of the next SCOTUS term. Just fucking watch.

We. Are. All. Dead.

NO KUDOS FOR TRUMP

Every reporter, anchor or commentator who uses any media platform to suggest Trump should be celebrated for signing this executive order promising, “I’m going to cut way back on the torture of children,” must face serious criticism.

You can start with Dana Bash for offering “Kudos to Trump”. Feel free to send reasonably-worded reactions to CNN.


[Read more…]

Just Listen To Wonkette, Will You: “Fuck his fucking executive order”

I (and probably will) write up an analysis of the Flores v Reno consent decree and how Trump has been using it to justify child ICE-olation and how the current executive order conflicts with the requirements of that settlement, but I don’t have the time to do the job I want to do this afternoon. So for now just listen to Wonkette:

So basically, the Trump administration wants to thumb its nose at Flores and indefinitely detain mommies and daddies seeking asylum and babies over a FUCKING MISDEMEANOR. Indeed the order literally instructs the attorney general to beg the courts to say violating Flores is OK and babies can stay in jail with mommy and daddy for A LOT LONGER, because that’s what the Trump administration is stomping its feet and clapping its hands for. Hey, maybe they can live in concentration camps, like one big happy family, at least until Trump can figure out a way to Finally Solve the whole problem!

Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo and Wonkette agree that litigation is inevitable, and Trump is going to lose at trial on a bunch of key issues. Probably on appeal, too. But for Trump, that’s a feature. His executive order puts the lie to the idea that child ICEolation was mandated by laws passed by Democrats, but if he can lose quickly enough in court, he’ll be able to rapidly pivot to blaming unaccountable, unelected judges.

Nothing says, “I love America” like hating on the US Constitution’s Article I, Article III, Article VI clause 2, and Eighth Amendment.


 

A Minor Major Victory: Trump Steps Back From Child Isolation Policy

Trump is now planning to end child isolation by permitting children to stay in the same prison as their accompanying parent. This is a huge victory for the children affected while still being entirely inadequate.

Now is not the time to back down. Now is the time to press both the administration and congress. Trump should still be impeached, in my view, for various important reasons from his refusal to safeguard US elections to his blatant violations of two vitally important treaties (one on torture, the other on refugees) to his deeply corrupt campaign. He probably won’t be impeached until Mueller releases more info because impeachment is a political exercise and no matter how definitive is the evidence that congress can see, if they can’t yet show it to the public I doubt it will count as “admissible evidence” (metaphorically, if you understand my meaning here) for congress’ impeachment efforts.

[Read more…]

Enforcement of Church Law: A Good Thing For Once?

Fuck the witch hunts, and the inquisition, and the condemnation of scientific heresies, and the support for inherited, monarchic rule, and, well, just about everything. But maybe, just maybe there’s something good that might come out of Christian church law after 1700 years?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, [faces charges under Methodist church law] over a zero tolerance U.S. immigration policy …

Specifically, the group accuses him of child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of The United Methodist Church.

All are categories listed in 2702.3 as chargeable offenses for a professing member of a local church.

Interesting. I wonder how this might affect the national conversation, given that so many US citizens are Christian.