The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

January 3, 2017

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2016/11/06I went dark on November 9 after enough people voted for an eminently unqualified, racist, misogynist, homo-hating, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, narcissistic, criminal con man and Putin puppet to give him the majority of votes in the electoral college and force those of us who are not white, straight, christianists to live in fear for our lives.

The election results were disappointing, horrifying, nauseating, frightening, outrageous, and disgusting. The one thing they were not, at least for me, is shocking or surprising. I suspect the more marginalized someone is by our society, the less surprised they were by the vote.

Make no mistake, if you voted for Trump, if you stayed home and sat the election out as a protest (or just because you couldn’t be bothered), if you voted for Stein or Johnson or anyone else but Clinton, your actions contributed to people suffering and dying because they are queer, trans, POC, or just can’t afford health care. (No Clinton would not have been worse, she wouldn’t have hired billionaire white supremacists with no experience but plenty of conflicts of interest to run the government or worked to destroy any progress made in reproductive health care and LGBT/POC civil rights or left many of us trying to figure out whether we should flee the country.)

White nationalists emboldened by Trump are thirsting for blood. That blood might be mine, or your gay cousin’s, or the Sikh gentleman’s behind the motel counter whose mistaken for a Muslim, or the African-American boy’s playing in the park, or your neighbor’s who wears a hijab, or your trans co-worker’s. (You didn’t know she was trans? But you insist she should use the men’s restroom?)

As far as I’m concerned, every single person who voted for Trump is a racist bigot. You can say whatever you want about how you voted for him to protect your guns (Clinton wasn’t going to take them away). Or because the economy is in the toilet (it was the best it’s been since Bush destroyed it in ’08). Or because he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs (he can’t, automation has already replaced those jobs even if the factories move back to the U.S. and those jobs he claimed — at the cost of millions from taxpayer– to bring back either were staying anyway or will be used to create further automation). Or because he’s a successful business man (he’s lost more money than he ever made, routinely rips off people he hires as contractors, paid millions to get out of fraud charges against him, etc. etc.). Or because Clinton did whatever (outrageous misogynistic fabricated conspiracy theory) you’ve cited as an excuse not to vote for her. Or whatever other lies he told that you were gullible enough to believe. I do not care what “reason” you give to salve your conscious, you voted for toxic sludge and should be judged by what you did, not what you say.

I’m so very tired of inane statements about the majority of people voting with genuinely good intentions for what they honestly believe is their country’s best interest. The majority of those voters don’t give one rat’s ass for the best interest of the U.S. They deliberately voted to prioritize their straight white cis privileges over basic civil rights for POC, LGBTQ folk, and those who don’t worship their particular brand of consumerist christianism. They didn’t care about the consequences as long as they got what they wanted (and they will be genuinely shocked, blaming anyone but themselves and the man they elected, when they lose their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, and/or their savings and retirement as a result).

I find it more and more difficult to believe that even a small majority of people are genuinely good when so many of them are willing to deprive others of health care, a safe place to live, enough food to eat, a decent education, the ability to earn a fair wage for their work, agency/autonomy over their own bodies, a partner in life, etc.

Trump voters will eventually pay the price for their hubris. Racism is one of the ways the ruling class one percent keeps the poor white working class in line, enabling the rich to turn them into wage slaves while raping the planet, destroying our water supply and making the air impossible to breathe. No matter how bad it gets, at least those wage slaves can believe they’re superior because they’re white, straight christianists.

Racism has always been the primary motivation behind the white nationalism white evangelical movement and remains at its core. The GOP deliberately used the evangelicals to create the noxious atmosphere that allowed Trump to ascend to the White House by pandering to racist, xenophobic, fears of privilege loss.

Wherever you claim to stand on civil rights for women, POC, immigrants, or those who are LGBT, if you facilitated Trump’s election with your vote (or lack of) you are condoning both the violent racist/xenophobic attacks of his followers and your own exploitation at the hands of their billionaire masters. The overt anti-Semites in Germany didn’t enable the Holocaust as much as all those middle class Germans who wanted to Make Germany Great Again and who were willing to overlook their missing neighbors, the broken glass in the streets, the stench from the ovens, and the racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

This naziism of America is the result of your sharing fake news, giving racists the benefit of the doubt, avoiding political discussions with family members who actively support venal politicians, staying silent in the face of misogyny.

Now what are you going to do about it (whether you enabled Trump’s election or not)? Will you sit silently with your head down and ignore the slaughter or will you step up to stop the colleague making racist jokes, refuse to allow your relatives to justify their Trump votes, call out the guy yelling at the Mexican-American on the bus to “go home,” video record the white cops harassing an African-American for minding their own business, stand in front of the woman threatened for wearing an expression of her faith? Will you donate and volunteer for organizations fighting for civil rights and reproductive health care? Will you call your Congressional representatives, daily if necessary, to let them know you won’t tolerate evisceration of the Office of Congressional Ethics, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc? Will you recruit, support, campaign for, and finance candidates for public office who believe in civil rights for all?

Or will you proceed with your daily life while everything that made America great is destroyed?

I know where I stand. I may have been silent online, but I never stopped fighting. What about you?


Privilege Blind

September 8, 2016

An abbreviated version of this post originally appeared in the September issue of The Southwest Community Connection with a response from the original author who apologized for her insensitivity but still didn’t acknowledge that the shoes in question were more likely stolen than “found”.

Recently, I was appalled by a privilege-blind piece in a Southwest Portland local monthly newspaper. The purpose of the column itself is benign enough: a recent transplant to the City of Roses explores local small businesses and grades them on “customer service, customer satisfaction and a pleasurable customer experience” using what she calls a “sincerity scale.”

But in the August issue of The Southwest Community Connection, she wrote about her experience with a local shoe repair shop. She explained why she needed to visit the shop with a story about swing dancing in which she states, “My husband always has trouble finding shoes of any kind that fit right and are comfortable. One day, he picked up a pair of shoes he found sitting on a wall outside of a church and brought them home.”

Nowhere in the story does she question why those shoes might have been placed on the wall outside of a church. She only worries about whether or not they were “worn by anyone with any icky foot crud.”

Portland has one of the largest homeless populations in the U.S. Many of the local churches have stepped up by offering food, clothing, and sometimes even shelter to those in need. Those shoes that “looked brand new” probably were intended for someone who needed shoes to wear, who might not own an intact pair.

Essentially, the husband stole a pair of shoes from a church so he could have a comfy pair for dancing, not even caring enough to question why they had been left where he could nab them.

The blind privilege of well off (they live in Multnomah Village, an upscale area of the city), white people so unconcerned about others they don’t even question why a new pair of shoes might be visible on private property (the wall presumably belongs to the church); don’t consider whether someone might have need of those shoes; or even if someone misplaced their shoes and they were left on the wall for the legitimate owner to find them, just astounds me.

The man could have noted the shoe brand and size so he could purchase his own pair. He could have offered to give the church a donation in exchange for the pair of shoes that would allow another pair to be acquired for someone in need. But he just pilfered them and his wife took them to a shoe repair shop to have them altered for dancing.

The only reason she told the tale was to praise the service provided by the shoe shop.
It’s not just the fact that her husband absconded with shoes that didn’t belong to him and she bragged about it. But the fact that neither of them stopped to consider why those shoes were there, who they belonged to, or whether or not someone needed them for something less trivial than dancing is the epitome of blindness to privilege.


Rites of the Savage Tribe

September 10, 2015

Today’s guest blogger Jean Roberta believes in tolerating everything except intolerance. This piece originally was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Rites of the Savage Tribe

By Jean Roberta, author of The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella


I’m always interested to learn about sexual cultures: what a particular demographic considers sexually acceptable, and what is taboo.

One social event among today’s young that has been acknowledged in the media is the Teenage Sex Party: a group of secondary school students get together to drink, and (in many cases) indulge in other mind-bending substances. A gang-bang happens, either spontaneously (it seems like a good idea at the time), or pre-planned. In most cases that I’ve heard of, the event is largely spontaneous, though it often starts with one boy and one girl. The rest of the crowd piles on.

I suspect that this event happens much more often than many adults choose to believe. It’s easy enough to legislate a minimum age for drinking, driving, and consensual sex. It’s not really possible to legislate lust, curiosity, or recklessness, and teenagers of all genders have these qualities in abundance.

Now here is the catalyst that propels a local event into the stratosphere of public discussion: someone has a recording device and takes pictures, or makes a little porn-movie of the event. Someone posts this on YouTube or some other social-media platform. The images go viral. The girl or girls in the Sex Party (who are usually outnumbered by boys) become targets of a lynch-mob of their peers.

In some cases, the girl who has become known as the Scarlet Whore of Whoville (or whatever town it is) changes schools to avoid the stigma, and finds that her reputation has preceded her. If
she reads her email, she finds fresh insults and threats every day. She can’t concentrate in class, and wants to drop out of school. She can’t sleep. Her only support comes from her parents, who would like her to recover in a well-guarded facility. In a worst-case scenario, the girl commits suicide.

At this point, there is much hand-wringing in the media. The girl’s red-eyed parents ask why the police have not prosecuted the “rapists” who did this to their daughter. Various experts point out that vulnerable young women need to be better-protected from sexual exploitation presumably, by means of constant supervision.

Seriously?

The frequent aftermath of the Teenage Sex Party, in which a girl is deprived of human status because of her perceived sexual behaviour, is parallel to the disfiguring, flogging, or murder of “fallen women” in cultures that practice fundamentalist religion in its most medieval forms. There is nothing especially modern or high-tech about any of this; it took place in the time of Christ, as recorded in the Bible. (Christ was against it.)

Let’s reconsider the party itself. In a case that was recently discussed on a daytime television talk show, the girl who was the centre of attention explained that she went to the party with the intention of having sex with one boy (presumably her boyfriend at the time). Another boy entered the room, and both boys persuaded her to let them take turns. By this time, everyone involved was both drunk and high, so it was hard for the girl to remember everything clearly. At
some point, she became aware that the fourth guy had been replaced by a fifth guy. She couldn’t identify him, but she knew he hadn’t asked her permission.

The talk show host asked Scarlet (as I’ll call her) if she knew the difference between sexual attention and sexual exploitation. He made it very clear that there was only one right answer to this question. She said yes, and agreed that what was done to her had crossed the line. The host then assured the girl’s anxious parents that the local police were wrong when they said the boys couldn’t be charged. The host promised to look into the case himself.

Are you uncomfortable yet?

Scarlet was clearly disturbed by the host’s promise to her parents that oh yes, those five boys could and should be punished. She said she didn’t think they should get criminal records. She seemed admirably loyal to the truth: the event had not been a clear-cut assault, and she had not been simply a victim of unwanted sex.

It’s incredibly hard for a teenage girl to maintain her integrity by telling the truth about her sexuality in the face of social pressure. In my day, there was rarely any objective evidence, but rumours abounded. When numerous classmates asked me whether it was true that I had “done it” with the boy who was bragging about this, I denied it. Admitting it would have opened up an abyss of shame in which I was afraid of being trapped for the rest of my life. Then, when boys asked me why most girls lie so much about what they really want and what they’ve really done, I cringed. I didn’t want to be a liar or a hypocrite, but I didn’t see any viable alternative.

Let’s think about sexual hypocrisy with regard to Scarlet and the boys from the party. Did the boys acquire terrible reputations at school because they were recognizable from the video on YouTube? Did anyone propose that the person who recorded the event without Scarlet’s consent (and who might not have been a participant) should be convicted of a crime?

I would like to see a talk show with a different focus on the Teenage Sex-Party and its aftermath. Who were the ringleaders of the smear campaign against Scarlet, and why was no one talking about appropriate penalties for them? Where were the parents of these underage thugs? How many of them will grow up to become sexual bullies at work? Will any of them become police officers who use their power to abuse or even kill innocent civilians?

Something is definitely rotten in Denmark, so to speak. And it’s not a loss of sexual purity among young women.

About Jean Roberta: Jean Roberta has taught English in a Canadian university for over 25 years, and now teaches a credit course in creative writing as well.

Her diverse fiction (mostly erotic) has appeared in over one hundred print anthologies, an out-of-print novel, two out-of-print story collections, and two single-author collections (Obsession, The Princess and the Outlaw), as well as The Flight of the Black Swan. Anthologies including her work have won awards from Lambdalit, EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), and Independent Publishers Association. She has also written poetry, drama, news articles, scholarly non-fiction, blog posts and reviews.

The 25 opinion pieces she wrote for a monthly column, Sex Is All Metaphors (based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas), are available as an e-book. Under her actual family name, she co-edited an anthology of scholarly articles: OutSpoken: Perspectives on Queer Identities, and contributed an article on a controversial “lesbian” novel, “The Well of Loneliness” (1928).

She married her long-term, female partner, Chilean-born Mirtha Rivera, on Samhain weekend in 2010. More on her website. You can also find her on Twitter and LiveJournal.


Medical Inequality

April 21, 2015

In the past two years, I’ve been horrifically exposed to the inequalities in American medicine.

I’ve lost my father, two aunts, and three dear friends. Of those, all but two involved cancer. And half of them were a direct result of medical neglect or outright malpractice deriving from inequality.

Almost every civilized country on the planet (including many considered “third world”) provides health care for its citizens. Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, most of Europe, most of South America, Cuba, etc. But, in the United States, people are brainwashed into protesting the minimal assistance ACA (Affordable Care Act) offers, ignoring the death, debt, and despair caused by the lack of universal health care here.

Faux News, the tool of the 1 percent, convinces these delusional dissidents that somehow government assistance will reduce the quality of care they receive, ignoring the fact that government-run Medicare offers the most cost-effective and highest quality of care available in this country.

In reality, the quality of health care in the United States is surpassed around the world. Even Mexico offers its citizens better health care in terms of outcomes than that available here. And the high quality care that these absurd activists are so worried about losing is available only to those who have money and privilege.

Even if you have privilege, you still can leave your family indebted to the medical establishment. The number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills.

But, without money and/or privilege, the medical establishment condemns you to death. I lost two friends in one week. The first, a white, upper middle class, cis woman had her life extended by almost a decade after her cancer was diagnosed as Stage IV. She was monitored constantly, getting CAT scans at regular intervals. She had access to experimental treatments which gave
her several additional years of high quality living. When the end came, in her seventh decade, it was peaceful, expected, and at home with her family.

The second, a trans woman, also had a history of cancer. But, she did not receive adequate monitoring. She had been ill and in pain for weeks, but no CAT scan was ordered, just an x-ray. Her doctor told her she had pneumonia. She was admitted to the hospital on a Tuesday because the pain had become unbearable and the treatment wasn’t working.

By the time her provider got around to paying for a CAT scan all it could do was confirm her death sentence. In her early fifties, she died the following Monday of Stage IV cancer.

The women of privilege received medical care from a non-profit medical center that put forth a heroic effort to preserve her life. She had time to prepare her family, her affairs, her finances, and to say goodbye to her friends over lunches and chocolate.

The trans woman was neglected by a for-profit company that has a history of killing patients rather than spending money on expensive tests and treatments. (That same organization worked systematically for three years to kill my aunt — not white, not privileged — through neglect, malpractice, and over medication.)

With no warning, the trans woman had to say goodbye to her friends in the hospital. For those further away who couldn’t make it there quickly, they only were able to spend time with her after she lost her ability to speak clearly. Instead of spending quality time over months with each individual or family, she was mobbed by the many who loved her over the course of a few hours.

Because she had no time to prepare her finances and affairs, her extended family may lose the home they shared.

You can help them out at the gofundme account their friends set up for them. That Americans must create crowdfunding campaigns to beg for assistance with medical bills is seen as bizarre in more civilized parts of the world.

But, the GOP is determined to strip away what little relief the ACA offers. Republicans prefer to allow huge mega corps to make obscene profits by allowing people to die rather than provide adequate medical care and then billing their families for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sending them into bankruptcy.

The rest of the world has figured out that providing citizens with affordable health care makes economic sense. But we’re still trapped in a paranoid delusion that somehow government interference will reduce access and quality even though the opposite is true.