politics

Do not donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am pissed off about Susan G. Komen’s decision to pull its grants for breast cancer screening from Planned Parenthood.

Komen claims the move is because their newly adopted guidelines do not allow them to donate money to organizations under investigation by Congress. But let’s cut the crap: this is nothing more than a snivelling political move to appease anti-choicers:

Komen has been under pressure from anti-abortion groups to drop its funding for Planned Parenthood, which received $680,000 from the anti-cancer group in 2011. Most recently, abortion foes forced a Christian publisher to stop printing pink Komen bibles and pressured bookstores to take them off the shelves. Groups have also called on supporters to boycott Komen entirely, and decried the group as a “lie from the pit of Hell.” But Komen says the anti-abortion groups’ activism didn’t play a role in its decision, which it claims is the result of a new internal policy forbidding it from funding for any organization that’s currently under investigation in Congress. (Planned Parenthood is the target of a congressional investigation, but that probe is led by an anti-abortion lawmaker who has sought to end all federal support to the group.)

One thing the AP piece misses, however, is that pressure to end the Planned Parenthood funding may have also come from within Komen itself. Karen Handel was named senior vice president at Komen in April 2011, and is now “leading the organization’s federal and state advocacy efforts.” But before joining Komen, she was a candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia, and was critical of Planned Parenthood. “[S]ince I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood,” she wrote in a blog post, and pledged to eliminate all state funds for breast and cervical cancer screening to the group if she were elected governor.

Isn’t it oddly convenient that their new guidelines coincide with these events? Why, it’s almost as if they adopted those guidelines in order to appease anti-choicers, while simultaneously attempting to deflect blame onto Congress!

We can speculate on Komen’s motivations until we’re blue in the face, especially since they won’t even reply to Planned Parenthood’s requests to discuss the decision. But the motivations don’t change the result: Roughly $600,000 a year will no longer be going toward breast health education, clinical breast exams, and mammogram referrals for predominantly poor and minority women. Without these preventative measures, women’s health will suffer.

Some people will argue that this is not true because Komen will simply donate the money to other organizations. If there’s an organization that provides these services with the experience and geographical spread of Planned Parenthood, fill me in. But this means more than funding for some exams, as Amanda Marcotte points out:

The existence of breast-cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood has always been a thorn in the anti-choice side. Most of Planned Parenthood’s services are related to the choice to be sexually active—contraception, STD screening and treatment, cervical cancer screening—making it easy to write off those services as unnecessary if you follow the strict abstinence-only prescription the Christian right has for women. Breast cancer, however, can strike the lifelong virgin, the married woman who only has sex for procreation, and the dirty fornicator (i.e. the vast majority of American women) alike. Because of this, anti-choicers have tried to create a rift between women’s health advocates who focus on breast cancer and those who focus on reproductive health concerns below the waist. Today, they had a victory with Komen’s act of cowardice.

[…]In the end, the grant money is less important than the symbolism of Komen buying into the conservative myth of good-girl health care vs. bad-girl health care. In reality, women’s health care can only work if it’s comprehensive health care.

Even without this latest development, there were enough issues about Komen to give me pause:

Their removal of support from Planned Parenthood is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I will now be looking for other breast cancer foundations to support, and I’ve made a donation to Planned Parenthood’s emergency funding drive. I suggest you do the same, and inform your friends and family about this situation.

Indiana Senate committee approves creationist legislation

My dad emailed me this news report with the quote “Another reason to be glad you’re not living in Indiana.” From NWI Times (our local newspaper!):

An Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed teaching creationism in public schools, despite pleas from scientists and religious leaders to keep religion out of science classrooms.

Senate Bill 89 allows school corporations to authorize “the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life” and specifically mentions “creation science” as one such theory.

State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, who voted for the measure, said if there are many theories about life’s origins, students should be taught all of them.

But John Staver, professor of chemistry and science education at Purdue University, said evolution is the only theory of life that relies on empirical evidence from scientific investigations.

“Creation science is not science,” Staver said. “It is unquestionably a statement of a specific religion.”

The Rev. Charles Allen, head of Grace Unlimited, an Indianapolis campus ministry, said students would be served better by teaching religion comparatively, rather than trying to “smuggle it in” to a science course.

The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee nevertheless voted 8-2 to send the legislation to the full Senate.

What? Indiana is being backwards and ignorant? I am shocked – shocked, I say!

Dear Indiana legislators,

What you are doing is unconstitutional. That is not an opinion of mine – the Supreme court decided this in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987). Your attempt to weasel Christianity into public science classrooms is going to fail. You can either choose to vote it down now, or you can waste years of time and money in a pointless legal battle. Not to mention your continued efforts to destroy science make intelligent young people like me dying to evacuate the state and never come back. You wonder why you have a brain drain? This is it.

Indiana voters – figure out your Senate district here and send your state Senator a reminder about why creationism has no place in a science classroom.

Gee, thanks, God

According to Rick Santorum, we shouldn’t allow abortions even in cases of rape, because those fetuses are gifts from God. Yes, God’s gift to rape victims is pregnancy. Maybe this is just me, but I would kind of prefer God to give me the gift of Not Being Raped In The First Place.

It’s easy to write off Mr. Frothy Mixture as an extremist lunatic, but… Well, he is an extremist lunatic, but he’s not alone. Over 150,000 Americans have voted for him so far in the Republican primaries. Yikes.

“Comparing Gingrich to polyamory is like comparing wife-beating to BDSM.”

If there’s one thing you should take away from this situation, it’s the title. But you should really read Christina’s whole excellent post on polyamory and Newt Gingrich.

Kentucky’s priorities

Governor Steve Beshear (D) of Kentucky has just approved the state’s new budget for 2012-2013: millions of dollars cut from education, while the Creation Museum’s $43 million dollar Ark Park still stands. The $11 million going toward highway development for the amusement park was also untouched.

I can see Beshear’s airtight logic now. If we keep Kentuckians uneducated, they’re more likely to visit that intellectual black hole, thus increasing money spent on tourism! Budget problem solved!

And to think states like Kentucky wonder why they experience a “brain drain.”

Welcome to the United States

Here a state representative thinks it’s perfectly fine to refer to his 16-year-old constituent as “an evil little thing” who is “being coerced by evil people” because she understands the concept of separation of church and state. Maybe Rhode Island House Representative Peter G. Palumbo (D) needs a few emails (rep-palumbo@rilin.state.ri.us) or phone calls ((401) 785-2882) reminding him about the first amendment of the constitution.

And don’t forget, you can donate to Jessica Ahlquist’s scholarship fund here. Random kindness from strangers has already raised almost $20,000!

Update on Canada’s gay marriage issue

The government is taking action:

The Harper government is working quickly to change the law so that the marriages of the thousands of gay couples who travel to Canada to wed are legally recognized in this country. “We want to make it very clear that in our government’s view, these marriages should be valid,” a senior government official told Postmedia News on Friday. “That’s why we will change the Civil Marriage Act so that any marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized in the couple’s home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada.” The legislative change will apply to all marriages performed in Canada regardless of the laws of the jurisdiction in which the couple live, the official said. The statement came in the wake of a political firestorm that broke out Thursday after international headlines suggested the Canadian government doesn’t legally recognize the marriages of foreign same-sex couples who were married in Canada because they could not legally do so in their home state or country.

This is the difference between Canadian conservatives and American conservatives. Canadian conservatives can at least recognize the great economic benefit of having foreign gay couples come to their country to get married. American conservatives pander to the religious right, damn the economic or ethical consequences.

EDIT: Apparently I know nothing about Canadian politics…though I still want to insist that your conservatives aren’t as big as whack jobs as ours. If our Republicans found a loop hole like this, they’d be jumping all over it to take away rights from gays.

Canadian government dissolves same-sex marriages of non-Canadians

I’m raging too much to say anything more. Check out Dan Savage’s post on the matter.

Fuck. Canada, you’re supposed to be our Liberal Hope to the North.

More religious legislation from Indiana

Pushing creationism into science classrooms wasn’t enough, so now there’s legislation to require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. Yes, public school. It’s all in Senate Bill 251, which states:

4.6. (a) In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students.
(b) If the governing body or equivalent authority requires the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer under subsection (a), the governing body or equivalent authority shall determine the version of the Lord’s Prayer that will be recited in the school corporation or charter school.
(c) A student is exempt from participation in the prayer if:
(1) the student chooses not to participate; or
(2) the student’s parent chooses to have the student not participate.

1. Spiritual development has nothing to do with establishing character and becoming a good student. From all of the atheist Hoosiers, fuck you.

2. This has been established as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court so many times. SO MANY TIMES. Are these legislators thinking no one is paying attention? Even I have a hard time believing they’re stupid enough to A) Not know how fucking unconstitutional this is or B) Think they have any chance of the current Supreme Court overturning the previous rulings.

3. Adding an exemption clause does not suddenly make this constitutional. It’s still the government endorsing a religion (and a particular religion at that). Not to mention that it’s completely ignorant of the power dynamics of schools. A student who chooses not to participate is effectively choosing social suicide and bullying. Ask Jessica Ahlquist how much she enjoys losing all of her friends and constantly receiving threats. It’s effectively making it so students must participate.

Unsurprisingly, this piece of legislation comes from the same guy who’s pushing the creationist legislation. Way to force your Christian agenda onto the state, asshole. As if it wasn’t already oppressively Christian in an unofficial way.

If you’re an Indiana citizen, please write your representatives. And if you’re in an Indiana atheist organization, please make a stink about this. This is your chance to get in the media and yell “This is not okay!”

You know, I was invited to speak for my alma mater the Purdue Non-Theists during my spring break in March. Maybe I could make a little tour of the state with the topic of “The Indiana Theocracy.” Heaven knows I have enough examples for an hour long talk. Any other groups interested in having me should shoot me an email.

Indiana DEFINITELY isn’t perfect

At least Seattle limits its scientific ignorance to a piece of bad journalism. Indiana has anti-evolution legislation bubbling up:

Senate Bill 89, prefiled in the Indiana Senate and referred to the Committee on Education and Career Development, would, if enacted, amend the Indiana Code to provide that “[t]he governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” The sponsor of the bill is Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), who chairs the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development. In 1999, while serving in the Indiana House of Representatives, Kruse pledged to introduce a law to remove evolution from the state’s science standards, according to the South Bend Tribune (August 27, 1999). Instead, however, he introduced bills with the same wording as Senate Bill 89, House Bill 1356 in 2000 and House Bill 1323 in 2001. Both died in committee.

It’s irritating enough that people want to legislate their religion into science classrooms. But this is obviously unconstitutional and has no chance of surviving a legal battle. Stop wasting the time and money of Hoosiers and focus on issues that actually matter.

…One day, one day I will receive positive news from my home state.

“I have gay friends”

Someone uttering that phrase should set off alarm bells, especially if that someone is a politician. It almost always translates to “I know you all see what I did/said as homophobic, but really, it’s cool!” Rick Santorum’s oldest daughter is the latest to remark about her gay friends in a Huffington Post interview, and Dan Savage makes an excellent point:

What really interests me about the HuffPo interview, however, is Elizabeth’s claim to have gay friends. Elizabeth Santorum—follow her on Twitter@esantorum2012—has gay friends. Just like her father. And Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and Donny Osmond and Sarah Palin. All the high-profile homophobes seem to have gay friends. Or at least they claim to have gay friends. No one has ever met—and no reporter has ever asked to verify the existence of—one of Rick Santorum or Elizabeth Santorum or Rick Warren or Joel Osteen’s gay friends.

[…]Political reporters? When Elizabeth Santorum says, “I have gay friends and they support my dad because they agree with him about family issues,” i.e. her dad’s opposition to gay people having a families of their own, your immediate response should be a request for the names and phone numbers of some of these gay friends. Because that claim requires checking out before you put it in print or pixels. Reassure Elizabeth you’ll quote her friends anonymously to protect them from potty-mouthed gay bloggers, they can talk to you on background or whatever, but tell her that you’re going to need to verify the existence of these gay friends. Because you’re a journalist, not a stenographer. You’ll either catch Elizabeth Santorum in a revealing lie—what does it tell us about this moment in the struggle for LGBT equality that even homophobes like Elizabeth and her dad perceive a political risk in being perceived as homophobic?—or you’ll land a fascinating interview.

Spot on.

And while we’re at it, can the media please stop referring to politicians like Santorum as running on a platform of “family values”? How is it “family values” to refuse gay people the right to form families? Represent his platform for what it is – homophobia. Don’t accept the labels these bigots want you to use.

Ron Paul on sexual harassment

From Joe My God:

“Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.” -Ron Paul, from his 1987 book, Freedom Under Siege.

I thought it would be pretty straight forward that this sort of victim blaming is dispicable. I mean, it’s so easily to instantly find a job, you should be the one who quits when someone else does something wrong, right?! But then I got this comment on facebook:

“The next sentence from the book was “If force was clearly used, that is another story…”. The analogy I’d draw is that if a guy says to you “if I take you out to dinner I expect you to sleep with me”, then you’re welcome to decline the offer. Likewise, for employment, “if you want this job, I expect you to sleep with me”. It comes from a background belief that the right to own and use one’s property (the capital of the employer) as one sees fit is foundational to a free and productive society. You can’t take this one bit and graft it onto a socialistic/liberal world view and expect it to jive in that context. I believe that in a completely free market, this type of sexual harassment would be extremely rare, because it hurts the bottom line to hire based on sex favors rather than on job performance, a.), and b.) in the absence of government civil rights, people would take such issues into their own hands, ie., boycotts, sit-ins, etc.”

Sexual harassment is sexual harassment, whether violent force is used or not, and whether you have the ability to decline or not. My vagina doesn’t become your property because you’re my employer. And the idea that a free market will magically get rid of sexual harassment is probably the most fucking moronic thing I’ve ever heard. Do people recognize how much better the workplace is for woman now that we can actually do something about sexual harassment? Ask a secretary from the 1950s how comfortable she felt in her workplace, but to this day of course there are still complicated harassment cases.

And the idea that the government shouldn’t support civil rights is just fucking terrifying. You know the term “minority”? It generally means there are less of you, and you’re less powerful. No one would give a diddly if you organized a sit-in when your numbers are insignificant to them.

The idea that “hurting the bottom line” is more of a concern than violating human rights is why I hate libertarians.