The Anti-Gay Plague of Violence and Hatred: When Does it End?

AGPIf there is one thing that has been trending in the news lately, it is all of the horrendous anti-gay laws being passed or talked about in Russia and other countries that attempt to dehumanize or criminalize people for being born gay. In Russia, an anti-gay law was put in place to prevent “propaganda” by the LGBT community living there, in attempts to keep homosexuality from “harming” supposedly traditional relationships and to keep children from being exposed to it. What it has resulted in is people of the LGBT community being beaten, hunted down, kidnapped, and tortured in broad daylight, with the Russian police doing little, or nothing, to help, and the perpetrators facing almost no consequences for their actions. To top it off, Russia has also stopped allowing adoptions to America (and some other countries) because they don’t want the children going to gay couples. They are also attempting to pass a law that could remove children from the custody of their natural homosexual parents, or gay parents who had adopted children in the past.

Alexei Zhuravlyov of the United Russia ruling party stated “Homosexuals should not bring up children, it brings more harm than an orphanage.” Doing a quick Google search for “Russian Orphanages” will show how blatantly hateful and ignorant this statement is. A TIME magazine article states:

RONearly all Russian children adopted by American parents have come from orphanages, where children 3 and under lose one IQ point for every month spent inside, researchers say. Russian orphans are more likely to have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder than those adopted from elsewhere. They are also, on average, older than adoptees from other countries and have spent more time institutionalized — the factor that most impedes adjustment to life in an adoptive home. (Doctors and agency workers who have visited the worst of these facilities in Russia have described zombie-like toddlers who sit alone, rocking back and forth, staring blankly or banging their head against walls.)”

Russianlife.com states:

In most orphanages, children are bathed together with no hot water available. They dine on porridge and bits of chicken with no fresh fruits, vegetables or red meat available. They sleep in wards of typically 12 children on old mattresses with ragged blankets. Many of these facilities are under heated and toys or other tools to stimulate a child’s mind are scarce. Many of these orphans suffer from weakened immune systems and, thus, all manner of illness. Their mental, emotional and physical development often seriously stunted.”

Yeah… Those conditions sound much better than living in a warm, stable, home with parents who just happen to be the same gender. (I sincerely hope my sarcasm is noted…) But Russia doesn’t have a monopoly on evil anti-gay laws. Places like Uganda, and many Arab countries, make (or are attempting to make) being gay punishable by death.

I’m sure at this point, many people will breath a sigh of relief, resting in the belief that we live in America, where such horrible and blatant human rights violations don’t occur. But America hasn’t yet become such a bastion of light for the members of the world’s LGBT community either. In a majority of our states, gays in loving, committed relationships still can’t marry, and there are politicians still attempting to pass ridiculous “anti-sodomy” laws that would essentially make being in a gay relationship illegal (or at least being intimate in one). We also see news stories (if you care to pay attention) about gay couples being brutally attacked, beaten, and sometimes killed in the streets by gangs of bigots who can’t stand to see anyone that is different from them, not to mention the plague of bullying so severe that gay kids are taking their lives. These aren’t rare occurrences either (links listed after this entry):

July 1, 2013: Two transgender women are attacked in Washington D.C. Attacks that were part of a continuing bout of violence against the transgender community that began in mid June.

June 23, 2013: 4 men were arrested in Long Island for attacking and beating a gay couple

August 5, 2013: A gay man in Seattle is attacked and beaten resulting in a broken nose and scratches to arms and knees

September 1, 2013: Jared Fox is attacked by an anti-gay mob in Cleveland

JOLSENSeptember 2, 2013: Jared Olson (pictured left), a gay Denver man is brutally beaten, requiring reconstructive surgery to repair the damage done to his face

More Recently October 29, 2013: Ryan Langenegger, a straight man from Omaha Nebraska, is attacked and beaten for attempting to defend his gay friends

Let me be perfectly clear. These attacks are hateful and disgusting, the perpetrators are hateful and disgusting, those that condone these attacks as being “ok” or somehow “deserved” are hateful and disgusting people. People that would physically harm others simply for being different do not deserve to live in a civilized society with other people. We are all American’s and we should be better than this. The LGBT community isn’t seeking special privileges or extra rights, they want equal rights that are already afforded to everyone else. The right to marry the person you love in this country is a basic civil right, the right to walk down the street without fear of being attacked and beaten for being who you are is a basic civil right. I will go one step further and say that these are basic human rights that every person should be entitled to.

Some claim that their religion allows them the right to disagree, and that is absolutely fine. Disagree till the cows come home, let your flag of hatred fly, but the second you try to impose your will and your religion, whether it be by violence or by legal imposition, on other people is when it becomes discrimination, and in this country discrimination is not tolerated for long. All American’s who hold to the values of freedom and the belief that all are created equal should be horrified by these attacks. This sort of behavior isn’t what America is supposed to stand for, and it certainly is not what I want our country’s future to be. There is absolutely no reason we all can’t live in peace with each other.

Written By: James Garcia (10/30/13)

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1997439-2,00.html

http://www.russianlife.com/blog/plight-orphans/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/01/dc-transgender-attacks_n_3529213.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/long-island-anti-gay-crime-_n_3640744.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/cleveland-gay-hate-crime-_n_3860763.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/gay-hate-crime-denver-_n_3865966.html

The U.S., Women, and the Glorification of Men: Are We All Truly Created Equal?

Womens rightsHello everyone, I’m back from my vacation, and as promised am attempting to write another blog entry. One subject that has been on my mind a lot lately, is the one of gender equality (or lack thereof). I think most people have this fantasy that since women were “allowed” the right to vote, that everything became this wonderful place for both women and men alike and that we all have the same rights, but reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Last week, I read some posts on another blog that I found particularly upsetting. The entire blog seemed to be a full out attack on feminism, the role of women in our society, and gender equality, and is, of course, written by a man. Statements along the lines of the following appear on his blog:

A myth has been being perpetuated that women need to have a successful career in order to find meaning and happiness. Working at home helping your husband will bring greater joy, peace, and happiness for everyone.

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I don’t quite know where to begin with this quote… In this single statement the author makes it seem like working women are somehow delusion and can’t be happy while working, and then goes on to imply that all women should be married and must depend on a man for “greater joy, peace, and happiness for everyone.” Sure, there may be some women that want to stay at home to cook, clean, and raise their children, that is their individual choice… But there are also women that are perfectly happy pursuing careers, husbands who are happy staying home raising the children, cooking, and cleaning, homes where both the husband and wife work by choice or by necessity, and even households made up of two wives or two husbands, which I’m sure is completely outside of the authors accepted reality. We are all individuals, with individual dreams, individual goals, and individual lives, and what is good for one person may not necessarily be good for another.

Besides that quote, (which is just the tip of the iceberg), there are countless others, equally as upsetting… Just to give a general idea, here are a few entry titles:

7 (8) Reasons Why Women Should not be Cops(This includes such “reasons” as “it is not in a woman’s makeup,” it is “setting a bad example for children,” and it is “usurping/stealing a man’s intended role.”)

God does not Support Equal Oppurtunity(What can I even say about this? How much arrogance can a person truly have to claim to speak for God? Did Jesus ever mention anything about women being less than men? If so, I can’t recall the scripture…) 

The blog says several different things like this, ranging from such statements as “women should have long hair and dress pretty” to “women shouldn’t be in the military / police force” etc… I don’t want to completely attack this blog, but at first I thought that “this is just one random person, it can’t possible be a widespread view…” Then I started noticing (just in the last week) different articles highlighting just how far away the United States is when it comes to true gender equality.

The first article that caught my attention was one on thinkprogress.com, that discussed the global gender gap report. In this report, which ranks the world’s nations on gender equality, the United States ranked… Take a guess… You think it’s number one? Think again… Concerning gender equality, the United States ranked number 23. This study uses four categories to judge equality (each broken up further into sub-categories), 1) Economic participation and opportunity, 2) Educational attainment, 3) Health and Survival, and 4) Political empowerment. I think we would all like to think this sort of thing is isolated to some of the more backwater places in the south, or smaller towns, but then you see things like the blog I discussed, or issues like Steubenville / Maryville where rape victims are made to feel worthless by their communities. Daisy Coleman, of the Maryville Mo. Case, stated in one of her own online essays:
“I sat alone in my room, most days, pondering the worth of my life.{… I burned and carved the ugly I saw into my arms, wrists, legs and anywhere I could find room. On Twitter and Facebook, I was called a skank and a liar and people encouraged me to kill myself. Twice, I did try to take my own life.”

This poor girl was victimized not once, but twice; first by her despicable rapist, then by her despicable community, all because of the glorification of men, especially athletes, in our society.

MC VmaNow let’s consider the entertainment industry. Let’s take the Miley Cyrus/VMA incident for example. After the “show” that Miley Cyrus and Robyn Thicke put on, Miley Cyrus was demonized by the media. I saw Facebook posts calling her a whore, saying she went off the deep end, and saying that she was a horrible example for young girls everywhere. Sure, what she did was distasteful, but… Was she the only one on the stage? As another article I read pointed out (although I don’t have the link for it…) We have a man singing about the blurred lines of sexual consent, but all of the attention is focused on the half naked girl singing and dancing along with him. Absolutely no outrage is shown for the man involved in the situation, and we wonder why we keep seeing incidents of rape and abuse popping up in the news? Well, here’s a news-flash, when pop-culture glorifies men who demean and abuse women, then the rest of our culture will probably mimic that behavior.  I recently heard a kid in my current class say:

Girls like when you treat them badly.”

And he said it with a completely straight face!  To me it seems young men actually believe this garbage! With what is presented by the media, why wouldn’t they? 

Even with all of the things already discussed, people will probably still say that it isn’t a majority of our country. So for those people let’s look at the gender pay-scale. A study done by the U.S. Census Bureau stated:

The changes in the real median earnings of men and women who worked full time, year- round between 2011 and 2012 were not statistically significant. In 2012, the median earnings of women who worked full time, year-round ($37,791) was 77 percent of that for men working full time, year-round ($49,398) ─ not statistically different from the 2011 ratio. The female-to-male earnings ratio has not experienced a statistically significant annual increase since 2007.”

77 cents to every dollar that a man makes… Do you think it would be fair if you were making 23% less than another person that has the same experience and tenure simply because you weren’t the “right” gender? I don’t know about you, but I would be seriously pissed off. There is absolutely no reason for this pay inequality except for a long instilled sense in our culture that men are somehow better than women.  

If we still have some people that would doubt the severe gender inequality in our country, we need look only to our Congress. Surely… Surely, if a majority of the American people believe in gender equality there would be some sort of mirroring in the representatives that we vote for… Sadly, it simply isn’t so. According to thisnation.com:

While the partisan composition of the Congress is fairly close to that of the electorate, there are larger disparities between the Congress and the general citizenry in term of sex and race. In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women. In the Senate, there are 17 women and 83 men.”

HC ButtonsThis means that only 17% of our elected Congressional representatives are female. Considering women outnumber men in this country, that number is sad indeed. Then we have incidents like the one concerning the Hillary Clinton buttons at a Republican convention (shown to the side) that attacked her not because of her political choices, but because the size of her breasts and her “fat thighs.”

This is the type of culture that we currently live in, and it deeply saddens me. When I think of the future, I hate the thought of my niece not having the same opportunities that my nephew will, simply because our society holds this attitude that men are better because they’re men. People like my mother, who is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known, and my sister who is one of the most passionate when it comes to politics, have proven to me that women can work just as hard as men, that they are just as smart (if not smarter in many cases) than men, and they should have an equal place in our society and in our culture. I think that our nation is in drastic need of change when it comes to gender views, but it isn’t going to happen unless we all reject this misogynistic attitude for what it is, and throw it in the garbage where it belongs.

Written By: James Garcia (10/29/13)

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/10/25/2835631/womens-equality-23/ (Think Progress’s article on gender equality)

http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2013 (the gender gap report)

http://disciplesperspective.com/ (a link to the blog discussed, so you can read it for yourself)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/gender-wage-gap_n_3941180.html

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb13-165.html

http://thisnation.com/congress-facts.html

Helping the Poor vs. Funding War

It seems that many Republicans in this country have the idea that those who are on Welfare are “lazy” or “drug addicts.” I know that I seem to talk about this topic a lot of my Facebook and such, but it irritates me to no end whenever I see Conservatives, people that are supposed to be Christians, ranting and raving about “Socialist” programs, and how “lazy deadbeats” are destroying our country. Yet, mysteriously… These people are absolutely silent when it comes to funding our massive military, or programs like the NSA. Where is the “righteous” indignation against unprecedented military spending? Where is the moral outrage against the NSA for all of the spying they’ve been doing on not only our allies, but US citizens as well?

Here is the amount of money spent on military for the top 5 countries in 2012 (in billions):

  1. United States – $682 (39% of the World’s share) 

  2. China – $166 (9.5%)

  3. Russia – $90.7 (5.2%)

  4. UK – $60.8 (3.5%)

  5. Japan – $59.3 (3.4%)

Since the NSA is a secretive organization, we don’t even get to know exactly what they spend, but it’s estimated to be in the $10’s – $100’s of millions a monthand conservatives complain about social programs that help the poor and needy? Why does America need to spend more than the next 9 countries combined on military? Just to give an idea of the types of things that are being purchased for the military, let’s take a look at the F-35 Fighter Jet:


MilitaryThe Pentagon now forecasts that the conventional takeoff A-model will average a cost of $76.8 million per plane

The forecast assumes U.S. purchases of 2,443 production jets, on top of 14 test planes. (In case you don’t want to do the math, that is over $185 billion…)

The cost of operating and sustaining the new planes is estimated to reach $1.1 trillion,assuming that they will be used for 50 years

And just remember, these are all just estimates. They are purchasing these planes and they don’t even know how much these planes are actually going to cost them! What in the world are they preparing for? An alien invasion? World domination? Remember, those $185 billion are just going to buy the planes. This isn’t considering the cost for aircraft carriers, ammunition, training, etc…

When it comes to the complaints about social programs, I have to say, I just don’t get it… Especially in light of how much we spend on our military. So, we’ve taken a tiny glimpse at military spending, now let’s compare some of the social assistance programs that are supposedly “draining” our economy:

Food stamps

SNAP (Foodstamps): Estimated to be $75 billion a year (and remember, the House has passed a bill to cut $4 billion from the program)

TANF Federal (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families): $16.5 billion annually

TANF State: $10-$11 billion annually

These are true Welfare programs. Many Republicans are now claiming that Welfare spending has reached closed to $1 trillion, but this is a gross manipulation of the facts. What these Republicans aren’t mentioning is the fact that they are counting 83 different programs as “Welfare,” including Pell Grants, public works spending, Head Start, child support enforcement, the Child Tax Credit, Foster Care assistance, housing for old people, [the Earned Income Tax Credit] and much more.” It’s ridiculous to bundle 83 different programs, many of which are tax credits for middle class families, and call them “Welfare.” If America really wants to cut back on spending, they need to take a look at where our money is really going, and the biggest culprit is military spending.

Just a final thought; In 2006 the United States spent $56 billion dollars on social welfare programs, but gave $92 billion in subsidies and tax breaks to large corporations. Another thing you never hear Republicans / Conservatives complaining about. What a shock!

Written By: James Garcia (10/22/2013)

More on the F-35 Fighter program: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-23/business/sns-rt-us-lockheed-fighter-costbre94m1b8-20130523_1_f-35-program-pentagon-cost-4-percent-f-35-joint-strike-fighter

More on Republican lies about Welfare: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/18/new_lie_the_government_spends_more_on_welfare_than_everything_else/

More on Corporate Welfare: http://thinkbynumbers.org/government-spending/corporate-welfare/corporate-welfare-statistics-vs-social-welfare-statistics/

 

 

Ah! Crisis Averted!… Maybe?

debt ceilingSo the government shutdown is finally over, and the debt ceiling has been raised. We are out of the woods!…. Or are we? So Congress has given themselves a big pat on the back for passing a budget and for raising the debt ceiling… Two things that should have been done a long time ago WITHOUT all of the chaos, and what did the Republicans even gain by causing this debacle? Absolutely nothing. They were given a token change to the Affordable Care Act (that the Democrats actually wanted anyway), and sequester level spending (that they already had) was extended. I would like to ask people like Ted Cruz; “Was it worth it?” These Tea-Party loons say that they wanted to save the tax payers money, but in fact have now cost us an estimated $24 billion in economic spending, thousands of employees furloughed from work for almost 3 weeks, and another blow to our already damaged international image. We even had China calling for the world to “Un-Americanize” itself due to political turmoil and economic uncertainty. How, in any way, did this farce help America?

As for the budget / debt ceiling deal Ted Cruz Stated:

“This is a terrible deal,” Cruz said. “This deal embodies everything about the Washington establishment that frustrates the American people.”

and…

“I ask you to imagine a world in which Senate Republicans united to support House Republicans,” Cruz said. “It is heartbreaking to the American people that Senate Republicans divided as they did and decided to direct their criticism, direct their attention, direct their cannon fire at House Republicans and at those standing with the American people.”

Ted CruzIf Cruz were even remotely in line with what the American people wanted, he would never have led this insane crusade to shut down the government in the first place. Someone should point out to him that the American people include Democrats, Independents, and Moderate Republicans too, not just the extreme right-wing, tea-party anarchists that call for the government to be brought down, and wave around confederate flags while doing so. How arrogant can you be to claim that you speak for all American people when polls show that, in fact, you actually don’t? I mean, the Republican disapproval rating up to something like 75%! That’s certainly not speaking for the “American people.” Also, When people from your own party begin to question your sanity, then you have some real problems:

“The one thing that politicians want is approval from the people. They strongly disapprove of all of us — they just disapprove of the Republicans more,” – Sen. John McCain

“Have a coordinated strategy that’s based on reality rather than one that’s not.” Sen. Tom Coburn

“It’s time to restore some sanity to this place, to do this we all have to give a little.” Rep. Hal Rogers

So, after this useless and misguided attempt to “help” America (depending on who you talk to) we have a budget until January 15th and the debt ceiling has been raised until February 7th. My question now is… What’s going to stop all of this from happening again in January? They’ve set up “extraordinary measures” for the Treasury to pay our debts if we near a default, but what about the budget? How are the American people going to be guaranteed that this sort of thing won’t happen again? They have a budget committee meeting set for December 15th, but it still doesn’t leave me hopeful. In my honest opinion, as long as we have the lunatic right-wing fringe Congressmen like Ted Cruz calling the shots, then we can’t truly rest easy.

The only advice that I can give to my fellow American’s, Democrats, Independents, and Moderate Republicans alike, is to remember. Remember who led this attack on our government, our economy, and our very way of life, remember who stated that they got just what they wanted when the government shut down, remember who used our veterans as pawns in spite of claiming that they shouldn’t be used that way (hint: You didn’t see Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid hijacking a veterans rally accompanied by people waving confederate flags.) The 2014 Congressional elections are just around the corner. Generally these elections see very minimal voter turn out, but 2014 should be the year that the American people remind our government who truly has the power in this country. 2014 should be the year that we tell Congress, especially those that caused the shutdown, that we will not accept this sort of garbage any longer. In 2014 every American citizen should put their money where their mouths are, do some research so they’re informed about what they’re representatives truly stand for, and get to the polls to vote. Otherwise “we the people” will only have themselves to blame when we get handed another round of chaos and uncertainty.

Written By: James Garcia (10/17/2013) 

Can Earthquakes Be Felt From the Air?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Living History

For my post today, I decided to deviate a bit from the normal political mindset and take part in a weekly writing challenge given by wordpress.com. The challenge?

“Your challenge this week? Write about a current event from your own unique, subjective perspective. Show us how history is something we are part of, not some external event taking place in a palace, office, or war zone far away.”

Being only 31, there are not very many major historical events that I can claim to remember, however there are two in particular that I will remember vividly for the rest of my life. One is 9/11, of course, and the other is the Earthquake that devastated Japan in March of 2011. To begin my story, I will have to explain what I do for a living a little first. I am employed by a company called ARINC, and I am a radio operator. My job is to provide radio communication between flights over the Pacific Ocean and Air Traffic Control located on the ground in Oakland California, and I work the overnight shift.

TsunamiMy shift that night started a little less than an hour after the Earthquake struck, just as the Tsunami’s were rushing to shore. I remember thinking as I walked into the building (before I knew anything had happened) that it was just going to be another boring day… Then feeling the floor drop out from beneath me when I saw the footage of the devastation on the big screens that were projecting the news to us. At this point, I was a relatively new operator, and unfortunately for me, that particular night I just happened to be the operator assigned to the area handling flights going from Guam and Honolulu into Japan, many of which were scheduled to land in Narita, an airport that was now closed. I remember thinking “What in the world is going on!?” and “God I hope they replace me with a more experienced operator… I don’t know if I can handle this…” No such luck…

My frequencies were a bit chaotic that night, and I felt like this was my “trial by fire,” so to speak. On top of trying to deliver multiple rerouting clearances and Tsunami warnings (not fun, let me tell you) for flights having to be diverted to alternate airports, I was also trying to juggle my own emotions, which were ranging from fear that I would somehow make a mess of things for the flights, and horrible sadness for the lives that were currently being destroyed as we all watched on the screens. I was also trying to keep up with the time-line of what was happening so that I could answer the questions of airplanepilots, who really had no other way to find out what was going on. There were questions like “I heard there was another earthquake in Hawaii? Are they diverting flights from Hawaii too?” and “Were there tsunami warnings for Guam and Manilla (in the Philippines) as well? Will we be able to land there?” Rumors were flying around (no pun intended), and addressing them isn’t necessarily part of our job description, but it is definitely a courtesy to provide as much information as we can, especially in situations like this. I thought I was confused, but I can’t imagine the confusion the pilots must have felt, not knowing where they were going to be able to land, and whether they’d have to turn around or not. I definitely didn’t envy them their position that night…

Needless to say, I made it through the night with my job intact, and didn’t make any noticeable mistakes. I think some of the biggest lessons I learned that night are that no matter how bored I get on those monotonous nights things can always take a turn for the worse, that keeping a cool head is a necessity, that sometimes we have the luxury of being set apart from those situations and can provide an important service for those that aren’t, and finally that I can have at least a little confidence that I can do my job sufficiently. I know that mine wasn’t a big part, but that night I certainly felt like a part of the greater world community, as if I were somehow connected to all of these people who were experiencing this chaos first hand. I never want to be a part of something like that again (would anyone?), but if I am, I hope that I am in a situation where I can help someone again, even if it is just in an insignificant way.

Written By: James Garcia (10/16/2013)

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/writing-challenge-history/