Friday, June 19, 2009

"Anonymous" stops remembering Dr. George Tiller

Previously, I complained that Congress wanted to pass a resolution denouncing church violence. Well, I was not alone in my annoyance that Dr. Tiller's profession wasn't recognized.

The House quickly, and unanimously, passed the aforementioned version. But the Senate proposed a different version. Three Senators, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), changed the language:

Senate Resolution 187
Condemning the use of violence against providers of health care services to women.

Whereas Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, was shot to death while attending church on Sunday, May 31, 2009;

Whereas there is a history of violence against providers of reproductive health care, as health care employees have suffered threats, hostility, and attacks in order to provide crucial services to patients;

Whereas the threat or use of force or physical obstruction has been used to injure, intimidate, or interfere with individuals seeking to obtain or provide health care services; and

Whereas acts of violence are never an acceptable means of expression and shall always be condemned: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) expresses great sympathy for the family, friends, and patients of Dr. George Tiller;

(2) recognizes that acts of violence should never be used to prevent women from receiving reproductive health care; and

(3) condemns the use of violence as a means of resolving differences of opinion.

Finally! Hooray! Thank-you Sens. Shaheen, Boxer, and Klobuchar for introducing this, and thank-you to the 43 co-sponsors: Murray; Durbin; Dodd; Schumer; Lautenberg; Mikulski; Landrieu; Gillibrand; Harkin; Carper; Sanders; Kaufman; Wyden; Kerry; Lieberman; Tom Udall; Levin; Brown; Whitehouse; Burris; Mark Udall; Stabenow; Baucus; Cantwell; Bingaman; Inouye; Cardin; Specter; Johnson; Feingold; Leahy; Tester; Snowe; Begich; Akaka; Bennet; Feinstein; Warner; McCaskill; Reed; Kennedy, Lincoln; and Merkley.

However, damn the one anonymous Senator who stopped this. Wanted to back down on referencing reproductive health. That's why he was targeted! That's why we've been targeted for over 20 years! What is so hard about passing this?

It was killed before it even got to the floor. Why? Because someone didn't want to be seen opposing this resolution. Voting against this would be so easily spun as endorsing violence. Of course, whoever killed it is also endorsing the violence. Not just assassination but endorses the constant day-in, day-out violence faced not just by providers of the whole range of women's reproductive health but by women wishing to take charge of their reproduction.

Common ground? Apparently not.

Censored by Choice, Censored Choice

This morning, the Wichita Eagle ran a story about the threats of violence anti-choice groups have received, especially lately. The article is a total wash, such a tool. Umm, have you had your access to health care blocked for 20 years? Have you been called a baby killer for accessing contraceptives? Have you been stalked to your home or had the places you eat at boycotted? Moreover, has any "pro-life" group actually been bombed, attacked, or killed? No? Hmmph.

But the Wichita Eagle has never been known for being actually balanced on the issue of choice. They believe the local sentiment is largely anti-abortion and they write like the pro-choice side is barely here, dominated by older white women, and dying out. This, of course, isn't true. But given the politics of the NOW president elections this weekend, we young women really do want to get involved, and we are. And many of us are simply offended by the Eagle's coverage of tomorrow's events.

Stan Finger seems to only have reprinted parts of press releases when talking about tomorrow's "prayer vigil". Kansas NOW responded by holding a counter-protest and pointing out that "anti-choice extremists" are hypocrites (Mahoney, after Tiller's assassination, said "No one should use this tragedy for political gain."). They're praying for the end of violence "inside and outside of abortion clinics" and for "healing to the city of Wichita."

Wichita has been torn apart by abortion for 20 years, but it's not because of abortion. It's because anti-choice activists came here and ripped our community apart. And they continue to abuse us. They continue to use us as a staging point. Abortion is gone from our town, and they still come. They still pray for the fetuses. They act as if we are a horrid little burg because women have had a choice. Our police and our city council and even our citizens have allowed their violence, their stalking, their lies, their fake clinics within feet of actual health care providers. They have brought violence to us, not Dr. Tiller, not the clinics.

And they keep bringing it. Outside forces continue to not allow us to heal. Operation Rescue, original or West, are not from Wichita. Christian Defense Coalition is not from Wichita. Neither are from Kansas. Continuing to come here is not going to allow us to "heal," to move on. And by "move on," I of course mean "allowing women to advocate for their own health including contraception, abortion, safer sex education, pre-conception counseling, pregnancy and childbirth options, and early childhood care." Ooo, evil!

There is nothing honorable in their actions. They are not trying to mourn with us over a murder. They are dancing on Dr. Tiller's grave. And they're rubbing it in our faces by laying roses to honor fetuses. They didn't ask the citizens of Wichita if we wanted them to join us in praying for our community. They decided it for us. Of course, they decide everything for us.

I wish I lived in a world where I could just live. But I don't. Organized groups of citizens and politicians work hard to make sure I can't love who I want, have sex with whomever I want, have sex when I want as I want, decide for myself if I want to have children, how I have children, when I have children, berate me for not wanting to give birth but foster instead, where I live, how much I earn, where I'm allowed to work.

But there's a war over all these things. I wish I didn't have to fight. But I want to live *my* life, not someone else's and not what someone else has set up for me. People out there are attacking me, my choices, my decisions, as if I cannot. It is almost as if being human means I cannot think and moreso being female. But I have a brain, I am educated, I can think for myself, and I do.

So, please, we didn't invite you. Please leave. Leave my home and leave my body!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

Sometimes, I think shame is such a silly emotion, but it's actually quite useful, like guilt and jealousy. We just get all shamed over the wrong things ...

Somehow, I am one of the Wichita Eagle's Wichita-Area Tweeps. Pretty neat! Thanks for the nomination(s) whoever did so :)

Really, get the culture wars off me

Not much substance here, but I'm tired of being the middle of the "culture wars". My body is not your battleground. How and who I love is not your moral right to legislate or dominate. And it's not just the religious right doing it. I know liberals who don't want to be "abortion backers" or who wish to still moralize by saying it's not the government's right to tell women not to choose abortion but they just couldn't do it themselves. Telling me you hold the fetus valuable means that, obviously, I don't. You'll let me do it, but you're still moralizing to me. God believes marriage is between one man and one woman, but gays should have certain rights, too. Gee, thanks.

Seriously, my body, my life, my loves are not your campaign points. And for those candidates who don't want to be seen supporting me? Grow up!

The MAD Voter -- Of Pride and Politics

(Originally published in the Liberty Press in June 2008)

In case you haven’t noticed, this June issue of the Liberty Press celebrates Pride. We traditionally celebrate Pride the last Sunday in June to honor the Stonewall riots of 1969. The Stonewall riots changed the way gays and lesbians wanted to appear in society. Many still wanted to work for acceptance calmly, with women in skirts and men in ties, peacefully carrying signs on July 4th, while others wanted to loudly demand acceptance, expanding the counter-culture revolution to include gays and lesbians.

Pride and politics have been intertwined since gays and lesbians decided to speak up. Early on, we wanted our appearance to match that of Leave it to Beaver: clean cut and normal, without actually showing homophile affections. This accommodationism (I usually hear “assimilationist” these days) angered many people. Gays and lesbians, after all, didn’t always conform to these dress standards. Some men wore dresses (illegal in many states, including New York at the time of Stonewall), some women wore pants, and many dressed the style of the times.

It is still a major question today. Most of LGBT activism today seems to navigate around relationship recognition, adoption, and military service with some casual mentions of HIV/AIDS and youth bullying. After all, we’re normal people with the same concerns as mixed-sex couples. We want the tax breaks, kids, for them to be safe at school, to live in crime-free neighborhoods. We’re family people, just like the rest of America.

No where is this dichotomy more apparent than at Pride. Usually, drag shows are confined to gay bars and the occasional HIV/AIDS fundraiser. But each year, PRIDE shows off drag queens and kings in public parks across the United States. Bears, cubs, leathermen and –women, cross-dressers, and many others come out every year at PRIDE. For some, PRIDE is the one place they can go out and feel themselves, even if not everyone else is like them. And yet every year the debate continues: do we really want ass-less chaps in our Pride parade?

And who pays for Pride? Well, that depends. If you want in free, it’s usually mostly paid for by alcohol producers and lubricants with retailers paying a pretty hefty fee to sell rainbow jewelry. Some Prides reject alcohol and lubricant sponsorship. We’re not drunks and sex-fiends, after all.

All the things we debate year ‘round come together at Pride. Do we present ourselves as family-oriented or do we show the diversity of the “gay community”? Do we want the news to show ordinary couples, gay soldiers, and families? Or do we want drag queens and leatherboys on the cover of the newspaper?

The questions raised by those who do not fit within a modified nuclear family model go largely unasked any other time of the year. With so many other problems facing otherwise “normal” LGBT folks, from employment and healthcare discrimination to youth suicides and ex-gay programs, is relationship recognition really our top priority? Should it dominate our news and our conversation?

As marriage recognition continues to grow (five states now recognize same-sex marriage while New Hampshire is currently debating religious exceptions), domestic partnership recognition fades away. Massachusetts and Connecticut have dropped their statewide registries while New Jersey’s limits registration to couples over 62 (as marriage would affect Social Security benefits for widows).

Companies also drop their domestic partner benefits citing the ability to marry. All couples who choose not to marry now find themselves punished for expanded rights for gay and lesbian couples. And, still, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers according to a 2006 study of Massachusetts students.

Pride affords us the opportunity to come out of our closets, whether with our partners, our children, our wigs, and our leather. It should be a great day to celebrate the diversity of our community. Yet it is quite often politicized. It remains open to everyone, LGBT folks, allies, the media, and even those who wish we would just stay in our closets. For this reason, PRIDE organizers and LGBT rights organizations sometimes wish to keep their PRIDEs “family-oriented” (an odd phrase for family).

Diversity fills our vibrant community and includes families as well as those who choose other paths. This June, celebrate your own diversity! Attend a Pride in your area, and if there isn’t one, what’s stopping you?

The Mad Voter combines a bit of anger, a bit of crazy, and a bit of passion to Make A Difference (MAD) through simple actions and “armchair activism”. This column provides ideas to be involved and to know why. Follow @themadvoter on Twitter for faster updates!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Congress remembering Dr. George Tiller, victim of church violence

The Hill says Congress is fast-tracking two bills this week, one to honor the Army recruiters gunned down the same day the news was dominated by Dr. Tiller's assassination, also being honored.

House Resolution 505 states:

Whereas Dr. George Tiller was murdered in Wichita, Kansas, on May 31, 2009;

Whereas Dr. Tiller is mourned by his family, friends, congregation, community, and colleagues;

Whereas Dr. Tiller, 67, was killed in his place of worship, a place intended for peace and refuge that in a moment became a place for violence and murder;

Whereas places of worship should be sanctuaries, but have increasingly borne witness to reprehensible acts of violence, with 38 people in the United States killed in their place of worship in the past 10 years and 30 people wounded in those same incidents;

Whereas these acts of violence include the murder of an Illinois pastor at the pulpit in March 2009, the murder of an Ohio minister in November 2008, the murder of an usher and a guest during a children's play in a Tennessee church in July 2008, the murder of four family members in a church in Louisiana in May 2006, and the shooting of a worshipper outside a synagogue in Florida in October 2005; and

Whereas violence is deplorable, and never an acceptable avenue for expressing opposing viewpoints: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) offers its condolences to Dr. Tiller's family; and
(2) commits to the American principle that tolerance must always be superior to intolerance, and that violence is never an appropriate response to a difference in beliefs.

I'm glad we recognize the people who have died while at church. Though Dr. Tiller's assassination at church is just as mortifying as anywhere else. Yes, church is a sanctuary, but so, too, is home. So, too, work should be safe. This murder wasn't religiously motivated (though if people want to consider it so, it would be a hate crime). So why are we not recognizing the other providers murdered because they did their job?

Why are Dr. David Gunn, Dr. John Bayard Britton, James Barrett, Shannon Lowney, Leanne Nichols, a physician in Rochester, NY, and Dr. Barnett Slepian not remembered? Is abortion too difficult a subject that we don't honor a man for what he did, what he had to live with on a daily basis? We're willing to collectively ignore and forget *why* he was killed in his church? Oh, well, at least we get something; that something is the continued belief that abortion is somehow wrong.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Between the lines of "murder"

Most of my thoughts on Tiller's assassination live on my Twitter account because it's easier to have sporadic thoughts than try to reason through the past day and a half. I've done what I could to scourer news sources and give a bit of commentary.

CommonDreams reminds us the violence escalated to murder 3 months after Clinton took office and didn't end until Dubya took over. Since then, no one's been assassinated through anti-choice violence. Almost as soon as we learned Dr. Tiller had died, "pro-life" and "pro-choice" decided to lump everyone together. Choice proponents quickly pointed out the vitriol expressed by groups like Operation Rescue; public officials like Phill Kline; and national media personalities like Bill O'Reilly are culpable in Tiller's assassination (and, presumably, future violence stemming out of yesterday's). Choice opponents quickly angered that most people automatically assumed (100% correctly) a "pro-life" activist committed the assassination and warned everyone that the "pro-life" movement is not violent.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated in today's Washington Post "For many years, Dr. George Tiller has represented the horrific reality of the abortion industry in this nation." Among many other epitaphs concerning the "industry". Throughout, he pointed out abortion is murder and Tiller was a murderer. Yet, at the same time, he condemns the murder of a murderer.

He calls to John Brown and Henry David Thoreau. John Brown, finding the government and system unable to confront slavery rapidly enough, commited many acts of violence in the name of abolition. Because of his violence, Kansas was known as "Bloody Kansas" and in modern times, we condemn his actions. Though we talk in theoreticals about the justification of killing Hitler as a child or Himler. While any theory of just war or self-defense could certainly be extended to include violent acts freeing slaves or harming the slave trade. And, of course, killing people who participate in abortion. (Oddly, I don't know that these same people would support groups such as ELF and ALF who commit large-scale acts of vandalism, never having harmed a living being)

I'll state now, I'm not supportive of violence. I'm quite the pacifist. I'm not even one who honestly supports the just war doctorine. I'm of the opinion that so long as we find any form of force as acceptable, we will find new ways to justify otherwise unjustifiable acts. What we do legally (such as self-defense laws) and promote personally can be different. I don't think people who harm another human through self-defense should go to jail, but we certainly need to do our part as a society to prevent violence that leads to anyone's harm. Though abortion isn't an act of murder, no matter at what point it happens. Viability assumes a baby and their parent(s) can afford the care necessary early in life and, potentially, for the rest of their life.

But we are a society that finds reasons to justify and celebrate violence and death. After all, John Brown with a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other decorates a big wall in our Statehouse.

Honoring this history of justifiable violence officially, is it little wonder Dr. Tiller's clinic has been bombed, he's been shot once before, and this time killed in his church? Or that ORW stalks clinic workers and supporters.

Don't be fooled: if you use violent language to modivate your cause, violence will happen. You cannot use extreme language and expect non-extreme actions to happen.

This was not the first. This is not the last.