Posts Tagged ‘justice’

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Rape culture pops up in the strangest places

August 3, 2013

This is a post I almost want to put up on Daily Kos, but I’m thinking better of it, because of the fight it would pick there. There’s a nice community of skeptics there, but there’s also a fair share of rabid catholic defenders there and I don’t enjoy interacting with them. (who would.) Besides, the great orange satan is being overrun by libertarian anarchist types, so…

Anyway, rape culture, catholicism. This should be fun eh?

So I was listening to a little MSNBC today getting ready for work. I didn’t get a chance to see much of it, but I can check it out later at length. I already found the pertinent bit, though.

I can’t embed it, but it’s the first clip of today’s Melissa Harris-Perry show and it’s about the end of the Ariel Castro court case. For kidnapping, imprisoning and raping three women over the course of a decade, he’s finished as part of this society — he gets to be housed in a jail until he expires. But he left society with a bang.

if you’ve seen the youtube video, amanda this weekend, this right there itself proves that this girl did not go through no torture. that woman did not go through no torture. because if that was true, do you think she would be out there partying already or having fun? i don’t think so.

This was Castro offering excuses for his behavior — that since these women have been seen to be happy since they escaped his clutches, they must not have suffered as much as they say.

i seen gina in the media. she looks normal. she acts normal. a person that’s been tortured does not act normal. they would act withdrawn and everything. on the contrary, i heard the opposite. she’s happy, the victims are happy.

Naturally Melissa’s panel had no kind words for Ariel Castro, and it’s amazing that he even tried. He’s the poster case for rape! The lengths to which he went to imprison these women, the chains they found, no one’s going to mistake what he did for anything but rape. But the panel went on to speak of a rape culture, a term I haven’t seen much, but I am aware of the concept. The one man on the panel had this to say about it.

so to me, what i heard there was an appeal to us in the larger community and society and saying, hey, if i did this, would this woman be out there partying? because what happens in rape culture, what happens in sexual harassment is that women are continuously put in a position, where they have to prove their innocence before their perpetrators, you know, are found guilty of what they’ve done.

It was an appeal to men. And why not, who else would it appeal to but men? Well, perhaps some women sufficiently indoctrinated or bullied into going along, I’ll get to that…not that MHP is one of those. She mentioned being a survivor and now I’m wondering about that, but this was her take on rape culture.

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently. this seems to me, we have policies substantiating this. we were just looking at the fact that in ohio, in fact, in 31 states, in 31 states, rapists can sue for custody of children produced in the context of rape and/or for visitation rights, in 31 states this this country. in only one state where there’s a waiting period for abortion can people who have been raped or are victims of incest even get that waived, right? but that idea of, who has to claim innocence, how much is that a part of rape culture? that you, the victim, the survivor are also the one on trial.

So, up to this point I was considering a DK diary until I remembered one of the many things I despise about the catholic church. This was what reminded me:

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently.

And there’s a valid argument about catholicism to be had here; but I know the G.O.S. is not that good a place for such arguments anymore. There is a patron saint, however, of rape victims.

Maria Goretti was born in October, 1890 to a family of peasant farmers. Alessandro, her murderer, was the son of her family’s landlord. The attack took place in July, 1902, when Maria was a few months shy of her twelfth birthday. Most accounts say that Alessandro had “propositioned” her before and she had always refused him. After her death, Alessandro went to jail, where he dreamed that he saw Maria in Heaven and she forgave him. He then repented and was forgiven by both the church and Maria’s mother.

And so, the patron saint of rape victims is an 11-year-old girl who was not raped, but who died rather than “allow herself” to be raped.

The Catholic Church holds up Maria Goretti as a shining example of purity and chastity. As Pope John Paul II explained, “St Maria Goretti is an example for the new generations who are threatened by a non-commital[sic] attitude that finds it difficult to understand the importance of the values which admit of no compromise.”

The RCC has several patron saints for this purpose. There’s Agatha, who was tortured and killed for rejecting a man’s advances and refusing customers after being forced into a brothel. Agnes of Rome refused to make sacrifices to pagan gods, and to surrender her virginity by rape, and was killed for it. Antonia Messina fought a rapist to her last breath: a martyr to purity, she’s called.

Detecting a bit of a theme, here.

Maria Goretti is another of these martyrs to purity. She was called that by Pope John Paul II, as recently as 2002. He also had this to say about her. Keep in mind the story of her death.

Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility.

Contrast this with MHP:

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently.

The old pope (two popes back now I suppose) raises some questions about the choices people have, and how the church interprets them, as pointed out by this fellow skeptic

Given the context of promoting chastity, “following the impulses of pleasure” appears to refer to normal sexual desire. If so, what does “following the impulses of pleasure” have to do with Maria Goretti? Is the pope saying that if Maria had “allowed” herself to be raped, she would have been “following the impulses of pleasure”? Or is he saying that Alessandro was “following the impulses of pleasure” by wanting to rape Maria?

If the pope was referring to Alessandro, it still shows the Catholic Church’s lack of understanding about the psychology of rape. The act of a rapist is not the same thing as normal sexual desire. Not for the rapist, or for the rape victim. Rape is a violent act of domination. The fact that this case is about a 20-year-old attempting to rape an 11-year-old should already tell us that this is not an example of normal sexual desire.

There’s no good answer here, for the pope or the church. Of course, these best-case asexual eunuchs to their crucified god aren’t the sorts of people I would go to for any kind of expertise in this area, much less understanding. Empathy seems beyond them as well, when the examples they hold up to women are martyrs to purity. That the only proper path to show innocence is to die resisting. The church teaches that rape victims — survivors — must be in some measure guilty. After all, they’re not dead. There’s your rape culture. There’s a piece of it in church doctrine. I bet their priests teach catholic victims of rape to pray to saints like Maria Goretti, and hidden in the stories of these saints is a message to survivors that they failed.

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently.

And being a religion, of course, there is no political process by which we can seek to excise this cancerous idea from our midst. The most we can hope for is that most catholics don’t know about this rot in their belief system. I expect most don’t; I sure didn’t, back when I was one of them. But like most skeptics, I’ve learned quite a bit more about religion since I gave up believing in the stuff, quite often we know more about religion than the believers do.

This isn’t an attack on catholics, though. Charitably, one could call it an attack on their ignorance. Worst case, their priesthood knows. It’s on catholicism that the attack comes. And the reason I don’t bother putting this up on DK is that the catholic defenders’ league recognizes no such difference. I would like to think that I’d have a really hard time finding voices sympathetic to Pope John Paul II’s glowing endorsement of the martyr of purity. But this culture, this rape culture is pervasive. Clearly, the 31 states where rapists can sue for custody and/or visitation rights for the products of their violation speak to it.

I think I’ve internalized it to some degree, myself. In my wandering, reading and research I came across this tumblr and started reading. A lot of horror stories seem to start in parties with alcohol as a key ingredient, so to speak. I was thinking how it’s a shame that alcohol is around to facilitate this sort of thing, that I’m glad I don’t drink, it’s a wonder women go to parties at all…

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.

If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.

If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.

If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

…and that thought process came to a screeching halt.

It’s true, it’s not the booze. Women ought to be able to drink and have a good time like anyone else. This should not be what happens to women if they choose to have a few drinks. There’s something wrong with this society, and there’s something wrong with me. Step one, I suppose, recognize the problem. This is one occasion where I can quote Matthew 7 at myself.

7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and [a]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how [b]can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Perhaps I’ve taken the log out of my eye? Or have I just figured out that it’s there. Progress either way, I guess. As a skeptic, it pays to check and examine what’s in my head as much as anyone else’s. Rooting out those sorts of assumptions will be the work of a lifetime for me. I may have been raised catholic, but I’m not even sure where this notion came from for me. It could just be from being male, in this society.

Anyway, I can work on myself along with those 31 states and the church. No one gets away scot-free. Except for the vast majority of rapists, I suppose. Also cited during the MHP show:

and it’s the rare moment where someone who has committed sexual assault is put in prison for that. right? so that’s the 3% of cases that that actually happens.

Got a lot of work to do.

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Responsible, law-abiding gun owners exercising their free speech rights

March 2, 2013

[…and I’m spent. More chores to do tomorrow than today, so I do not expect to have much to write about on Sunday. Closing out the week with a mildly snarky collection of death threats and the like from some passionate gun enthusiasts, and the obvious connections to the NRA.]

Because freedom!

What can I say, it’s the weekend and I feel like mercilessly mocking some gun enthusiasts for going Godwin, issuing threats, and hoping for the rape of children. The alternatives to mockery that I’m considering seem like bad ideas.

I can’t help but be amused just a little, though, when even Republicans are forced to speak out against the threats and abuse, when they fail to pay the requisite fealty to the 2nd Amendment and then they start getting some flak.

Freedom loving, lawful and responsible gun owners, all, I’m sure.

*****

So a few days ago, this story broke about death threats and racial slurs delivered against two Democratic state representatives in Colorado. One of these Democrats, Rhonda Fields, represents the district where the mass shooting in Aurora took place last July. It seems reasonable that she’s playing a central role in the push to enact new gun laws in Colorado.

Fields, a Democrat who represents the district where 12 people were killed while watching a movie, is a leading proponent for new gun restrictions, and her role has thrust her into the spotlight.”I will not be deterred by threats,” Fields said in a statement.

Steven D’s diary from Feb. 26th goes into the details of the profanity, slurs and threats sent to these Democrats, and also mentions that Rep. Fields’ son was a victim of gun violence. So, yeah, I bet it’ll take more than that to stop her.

Unfortunately, they’re not alone. While gun enthusiasts in some states continue to push for ever more unfettered freedom to take their guns anywhere, many others have fought to pass new restrictions intended to make their states safer from gun violence. And so the diehard supporters of the NRA have spoken up across the nation.

In California, police arrested a man suspected of threatening a state senator over a bill to limit the rapid reloading of assault weapons. In Minnesota, a lawmaker who sponsored an assault weapons ban said she’s received threatening emails and calls. During hearings on gun bills this year, armed Minnesota State Patrol officers have been present, which is a rarity.

These examples demonstrate why the notion of ‘second amendment remedies’ isn’t so much of a joke, and why that contributed to

Sharron Angle’s spectacular flameout in Nevada. In addition to these examples, the news piece cites Republicans in Wyoming, who are being threatened for refusing to bring up a bill intended to exempt the state from any assault weapons ban.

Apparently, some Republicans have heard of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which makes such laws pointless and unconstitutional. Not that this has stopped all manner of local sheriffs and state legislatures, mind you. This article is worth citing for the irony alone.

From Oregon to Mississippi, President Barack Obama’s proposed ban on new assault weapons and large-capacity magazines struck a nerve among rural lawmen and lawmakers, many of whom vowed to ignore any restrictions — and even try to stop federal officials from enforcing gun policy in their jurisdictions.”A lot of sheriffs are now standing up and saying, ‘Follow the Constitution,'” said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, whose territory covers the timbered mountains of southwestern Oregon.

Yep, follow that Constitution, fellas. Read that Supremacy Clause and weep.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Honestly. I can understand pushing for laws at the state and federal level in support of gun rights, if that’s your bag of tea. But defying the feds, and demanding that they ‘read the Constitution’ — this stuff writes itself. Lest I leave out my charming home state of Arizona, this nullification rush has struck here, too. In fact, the proposed law here was so bad that the NRA spoke out against it

And the Constitution isn’t Smith’s only problem; he’s catching some friendly fire too. Todd Rathner, an Arizona resident who sits on the board of the National Rifle Association, told the Capitol News Service that he doesn’t like the bill because of what it would do to gun dealers, who must receive federal licenses and comply with federal regulations.“I worry about putting federal firearms licensees in the middle of a fight between us and the federal government,” he said. “It puts them between a rock and a hard place because they worry about committing a federal crime or a state crime.”

…ok, so you knew it wasn’t going to be an objection to the law as a constitutional violation, but that it might hurt gun dealers. Right? I mean, this is the NRA. And for going Godwin, I can’t forget the NRA rally in New York yesterday, with posters equating Governor Cuomo with Hitler. Of course, the NRA president David Keene was out there defending it, too.

I’m guessing the answer was no.

Asked about the Nazi imagery during an appearance on the AM 1300 radio show “Live from the State Capitol,” Keene told host Fred Dicker that the signs were in reference to the fact that dictators have historically limited citizens’ gun rights.

“Folks that are cognizant of the history, not just in Germany but elsewhere, look back to the history and say we can’t let that sort of thing happen here,” Keene said.

What gun enthusiasts are cognizant of is NRA revisionist history, and it’s popular stuff, as this piece from Salon has found. The actual history is interesting; the Nazis deregulated guns and ammunition and exempted many people from gun ownership regulations, while banning prohibited classes of people from owning guns. Salon quotes Omer Bartov, a historian at Brown University who studies the Third Reich:

He continued: “Their assertion that they need these guns to protect themselves from the government — as supposedly the Jews would have done against the Hitler regime — means not only that they are innocent of any knowledge and understanding of the past, but also that they are consciously or not imbued with the type of fascist or Bolshevik thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”

Which brings us back to the Cuomo-as-Hitler posters, the abuse and death threats heaped upon any politician — Democratic or Republican — who steps out of line, and the president of the NRA preaching to his choir that they’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of those politicians.

“Because of the fact that we, as believers in the Second Amendment, are willing to do something that most people in this country are not willing to do, which is not just to stand up for our rights, but to support those people who stand with us and work to get rid of those in public office who do not,” the NRA president told the crowd.

“So we’re with you,” Keene added. “We’ll help you defeat the politicians that would deprive you of your rights. We’ll help you overcome these statutes in court. We’ll do whatever’s necessary to make certain the Second Amendment rights that we have had passed down to us are are going to be passed down to future generations.”

Did this NRA brochure come with a tinfoil hat?

It’s interesting to contemplate the jarring difference here, between the NRA leadership and various gun enthusiast cranks across the nation — the threats, the revisionist history, the abuse — and what they perceive to be such grave threats to them. While the President and various Democrats take great pains to assuage these anxious gun owners and accommodate their paranoia, what do we get for our trouble?

Well, I did mention that rape comment at the top…so I will finish where I began, in Colorado.

“There is this extremist element where it does feel dangerous to stand up,” said Colorado state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, a Democrat who will be voting on the bills Monday. Ulibarri received a letter from someone who said they hope the senator’s daughter is raped. Ulibarri has a 2-year-old girl.

Gun enthusiasts need not ask why they now reap a whirlwind. After years of spending their money and time attacking Democrats, getting Republicans elected, and bullying anyone who dared defy them, things have changed. But this change needs to be realized in legislation — something to begin to address the plague of gun violence in this country. Our representatives endure having their lives and the lives of their children threatened. Don’t ignore their courage; speak up, and demand a vote.

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One problem with being a west coastie

February 27, 2013

Due to my tendency to act up a bit politically, I get email…a lot of email. From advocacy groups all over the liberal spectrum of issues. And often they want me to call Congress! But I get the word late in the day, and when I get home it’s too late in the day, and then real life takes over, short term memory of a gnat and it’s gone.

Well, at least today I spotted one such alert in the morning before work and for once I can take advantage of the time zone differential. It’s probably not a big deal; the competing VAWA bills in the House are coming up, and based on his past history I suspect my rep. is on board with passing the Senate version and scrapping the inferior House GOP version. The GOP should be ashamed of themselves, and reportedly, maybe they are; their effort is losing steam, supposedly. But it was interesting to call anyway. That’s my first time trying. Poor Ron Barber, he already hears from me a lot through emails and petitions. I guess he’ll get used to it.

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Irksome history

February 13, 2013

Ok, normally I would not find cause to write about much of anything political twice in one day, especially over on DK. Suffice it to say that this latest news has me sufficiently bothered that I did. Not going to cross-post because of the timing. It’ll either get ignored or it’ll get attacked. I’m heading back over to the great orange satan to batten down the hatches against the RKBA.

This is like a full hypothesis-experiment-results form of the scientific method, only the idea is ‘fuck background checks because FREEDUM’ and the results are more dead people in Missouri. Honestly WTF else can be said. /grumble

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Alternatives to prison? We can’t have that

October 10, 2012

I had time today to blog on Daily Kos about the prison system, a topic I seem to hit upon often; probably because the endless argument over polls and debates and swing states bores me. Or it could be the rank injustice of for-profit prisons warehousing inmates, breaking state standards left and right, then demanding guaranteed ‘occupancy rates’ that only serve to guarantee their profits.

This is already beginning to happen. A prison in Ohio was sold outright to CCA, the Corrections Corporation of America, and the jerk running Louisiana, gov. Bobby Jindal, recently tried to sell three of theirs — although the legislature rebuffed his efforts. In spite of the short-term cash CCA is offering, the quick fix for the long-term pain.

I already have a hard time calling it a ‘justice’ system; it will be even worse when the system becomes simply a mechanism for manufacturing inmates for private prisons in accordance with their contracts.

Afternoon edit: As my diaries generally stick to the fringes of unpopularity, this one got rescued, always nice to see. More people may read the story, that way. Although more than usual already have — perhaps it was the catchy title. It is relatively cray.

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Couldn’t tell you why this cause moves me

September 29, 2012

…but voter suppression does, for some reason. I caught a piece of Melissa Harris-Perry’s show this morning before work, though, and I found the time to write about it on Daily Kos. The practice of disenfranchising felons and ex-felons, in some states permanently, I find irksome. I don’t see any valid reason for it, although I can easily spot lots of invalid, discriminatory, oppressive, conservative reasons to do so. I will walk right up to calling it a racist practice and say yes, it looks that way to me.

This is more than just treating prison inmates like crap in and out of prison in the name of getting tough on crime. This serves no useful purpose for society, this encourages people who have been refused basic participation in society to act out against society. Beyond the ethical wrongdoing, it seems counterproductive.

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The priestly class laments spiritual zombies

September 22, 2012

Thanks to PZ Myers at Pharyngula, for pointing out some catholic priest attacking skeptics and non-believers as part of his ministry. What the point of the ministry is, I couldn’t say — making the congregation feel good about themselves, perhaps? But he wrote a screed so bad that he felt it necessary to yank it.

Dwight Longenecker is apparently writing some awful book that includes a discussion of atheists. He has some very strange ideas about us, as this excerpt shows. [Oops, wait! That page has magically disappeared! Good thing I grabbed a copy before he deleted it.]

Yeah, funny thing. I also found it cached by Google, so it’s not that easy to get away with, ‘father.’ This is his posting, a book excerpt.

Is there really such a thing as an utterly authentic atheist? I think so. I have a dreadful feeling that there exists a sort of human sub-species who have lost their spiritual capacity completely. These authentic atheists do not profess belief in God, nor even disbelief. Instead they seem entirely deaf to such ideas. They do not hate the Church or say the Bible is a fairy tale. They do not spit out bigoted remarks that blame the Pope for the holocaust or missionaries for murder. They do not attack the arguments for the existence of God, say the universe is random, or call Rick Warren a simpleton. They do not rage against God, any more than someone born blind has dreams in color. These are the authentic atheists. They plod through life eating, working, shopping, breeding and sleeping, and God never seems to flit across their consciousness. Members of this sub-species may be sparkling sophisticates or ill-bred boors. They may be the decent and moral folks next door, or they could be despicable murderers. In a frightful way, it doesn’t matter. If they exist, perhaps they have bred and spread like the alien bodysnatchers, and exist in our midst like spiritual zombies—indistinguishable in the teeming mass of humanity except to those few who see them and tremble.

This is also an attack on more militant atheists like myself, since now we’re inauthentic if we’re not apathetic. There are some skeptics who really don’t give a damn, and if I were living someplace like Sweden maybe I would be one of them. Unfortunately we are living in this supposedly judeo-xian country dominated by xians of various sorts who can’t agree on much, other than that they all don’t like non-believers and they do love to brag about their god-concepts.

It’s just the imagining of these zombies bereft of ‘spiritual capacity’ as if there was some quantifiable region in the brain or a sensory organ for it, this insulting language of a ‘sub-species’ drifting through their meaningless lives as something decidedly less than human.

I mean, the priest is a jerk. Yes, it attacks his livelihood that people exist who could care less about…his whole line of work, but calling them subhuman is just begging for prejudice, discrimination, attacks. Against skeptics. And that’s what he calls authentic. How much worse must we be, skeptics like me, who do understand the apologetics and arguments for god-concepts and how to demolish them, who do lay blame for religiously inspired atrocities right where it ought to go.

And after writing that rant, and then deleting it because uh-oh, maybe it didn’t go over too well, he follows it up with this rant about hell. Which I will also copy in its short entirety, since that may well disappear too.

I suspect that people who deny the existence of hell because God is “too good to send anyone there” are really proposing that God is too good to send them there.

It is ironic that people who believe in heaven are sometimes blamed for wishful thinking. Isn’t it that more likely true of those who disbelieve in hell? I say this because the person who disbelieves in hell doesn’t really believe in heaven either. He believes in oblivion. He desperately hopes that he will cease to exist after death. In other words, he hopes he will not have to give an account for himself–that he will get away with it after all, and this, it seems to me, is real wishful thinking.

The priest flips the problem of evil around into a personal attack on the challenger. Rather than address the apparent injustice of infinite punishment for finite ‘sin,’ instead he suggests that these debunkers are just bad people, who have lived shameful lives, and hope there is no afterlife justice because of that.

Beyond the problem of wishful thinking for heaven, there is also the believer’s wishful thinking for hell. Let’s face it, where do epithets like ‘go to hell’ come from but the fervent hope of the believer that someday, somehow there will be some accounting for folks who seem to get away with things, or whose crimes seem so beyond the pale that the believer lashes out in pain and anger. Heedless of the real meaning of calling for endless torture and suffering.

I think I know why this priest prefers to go on the attack and flip challenges around, rather than actually address them. He doesn’t have an answer for the problem of evil. I know it; I’ve spoken with catholic priests about it, I did before I left the faith more than two decades ago. They can’t answer now, they couldn’t then, they couldn’t a thousand years ago. They’ll try to baffle you with seeming logic and they’ll try to explain away pieces of it and they’ll try to shift blame, which is essentially what the priest is doing here. What they can’t escape is responsibility — which is what makes this attack so ironic.

And the best their god-concept can do is give the answer god gave to Job, in that story. Might makes right. Fuck you, I’m God.

God’s speech also emphasizes his sovereignty in creating and maintaining the world. The thrust is not merely that God has experiences that Job does not, but that God is king over the world and is not necessarily subject to questions from his creatures, including men. The point of these speeches is to proclaim the absolute freedom of God over His creation. God is not in need of the approval of his creation.

Anyway, interesting to find prejudice in an argument complaining about skeptics’ “bigoted remarks,” or the desperate hopes of an arrogant bastard cloaked in his own complaints about others’ supposed desperate hopes. I suppose he’s just emulating his god-concept.