Tag Archives: freedom

Endless Memoriams

On this day
We claim
To remember

But
Who can have memories
except those on the field
and those still at home

On this day
We hail Freedom
But is it
freedom to . . .
or
freedom from . . .
or
simply Free

Can that be won?

Freedom is not given,
should not be hard-won
Freedom is not a gift
for a few
or
for everyone

Freedom is Free
so long as it is not taken

It only ceases to be
when stolen by slaves
who worship their chains

No matter how many fight
and how many fall
Closed fists hold tight
Open hands grasp nothing at all

Advertisements

“If this happens, we’ll lose the secret ingredient that has made the Internet so diverse, weird, and revolutionary.”

Today, many websites and web services are blacking out and slowing down. This is to give us all a taste of what the internet would be like without true net neutrality.
Learn more. Speak out.

NPR Recap

Reddit AMA with WordPress, Namecheap, Amanda Palmer, Alexis Ohanian, and the teams that orchestrated the Internet Slowdown, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress

Fight for the Future Website

Contact your Congressional Representative, the FCC, and the White House.
Let your voice be heard.

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” -SCJ Ginsburg

I’m pissed. I’m not calm. I’m not relaxed. My arguments are reasoned, my points are true, but I am incensed and I’m not going to keep that out of this. Sarcasm ahead.

Hobby Lobby won. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that private business owners can refuse to cover any contraception if doing so would bother their religious conscience. Justice Alito wrote that the decision “protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies”.

Seriously? So now ‘religious liberty’ means employees are subject to the religious whims of their boss? What about the employees’ liberty? No? Nothing? All right then, let’s look at the consequences.

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t do blood transfusions. Why? Because Religion! That’s all you need to know! I grew up as a JW and I can assure you, many of them are business owners. They do their best to only hire other Witnesses, but that doesn’t always work out. (Hey, wait! That makes me think. If JWs decide that hiring non-Witnesses is against their faith, do they still have to offer Equal Opportunity Employment? Hmm…) So, does a JW business owner have to cover blood transfusions? For now.

Scientologists aren’t supposed to take anti-depressants. Why? Because Religion! That’s all you need to know! I sure hope none of them own any businesses seeing as 1 in 10 Americans are on anti-depressants.

Certain sects of Jews, Muslims, and Hindus refuse any and all products made with any part of a pig. Why? Because Religion! That’s all you need to know! Don’t think that has an effect on health care? Think again. Ever take a pill coated with gelatin? Ever get an IV in the hospital? Ever go under anaesthesia? Yes? Then I hope you aren’t their employee! You may well have trampled on their ‘religious liberty’!

Christian Scientists (Irony Alert) don’t take vaccines, their children are not vaccinated. Why? Because Religion! That’s all you need to know! Come to think of it, their faith doesn’t just prohibit vaccines. They don’t believe in any medicine whatsoever, prayer is the only prescription they take. I assume any CS business owners can go ahead and drop health coverage altogether, right? Wait, what’s that Justice Alito?

“Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.”

I see, I see. So if only birth control “supported different interests” then ‘religious liberty’ wouldn’t matter quite so much. Wait a second…

Over half of American women say that they use birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. Like what you ask?
-preventing migraines
-treating acne
-treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
-treating Endometriosis
-treating
Dysmenorrhea
-treating Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Many forms of birth control offer a decreased chance of:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
-Ovarian cancer
-Ovarian cysts
-Endometrial cancer
-Benign breast tumors and cysts
-Ectopic pregnancy

I guess none of that counts though.

I keep hearing that Hobby Lobby just didn’t want to cover the forms that could cause an abortion. What’s wrong with that? Other than the fact that your employer’s stance on abortion shouldn’t effect your life in any way? Science and federal law say they don’t cause abortion. Not at all. Not even a little.

“A pregnancy exists once a fertilized embryo has implanted in the uterus. Prior to that implantation, we do not have a viable pregnancy.” That’s according to Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Federal law agrees with her.

So no – Plan B, Ella, and IUDs do not cause abortions. And if you want to say that life begins at conception, then there is an argument to be made that God has killed more babies than all abortions combined – as many as 50% of all pregnancies end before women even know they’re pregnant.

It doesn’t actually matter how the birth control prevents pregnancy since SCOTUS broadened the ruling to state that any of the twenty types of birth control listed in the Affordable Care Act can be denied, not just the four kinds Hobby Lobby had a problem with. Can we stop pretending now?

SCOTUS has set a precedent that makes it possible to argue that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and any other person that can slap a ‘Church’ sign on their door and ‘sincerely believe’ can come between employees and doctors. It’s dangerous and it could happen based on this decision, but I don’t think it will. If Sandra Fluke taught us anything, it’s that sexual health care is only controversial when it’s for women. After all, Hobby Lobby still covers Viagra and vasectomies.

Hey, remember when I wondered if Jehovah’s Witnesses would be able to legally discriminate against non-Witnesses when hiring? Well, that’s not happening, JWs like to try to stay out of the news. But it seems that a group of religious leaders have already thought of a way this ruling could help them discriminate against potential employees. You see, they don’t want to hire any LGBT individuals. That took all of a day. Onto the minefield we tread.

The five Catholic men that voted in favor of Hobby Lobby have told the women of America that their health is subject to someone else’s feelings. Why? Because Religion. That’s all you need to know. And besides, it doesn’t affect them.

“Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” -MLK Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Though many assume that the day our nation remembers him falls on his birthday, that isn’t the case. He was born on January 15th. Which doesn’t fall on a Monday every year, if you were wondering.

We celebrate a world-altering figure by making a Monday near his birthday into a national holiday, which seems to imply that his legacy is not as important as our three day weekend. It’s arguable that my conclusion is a jaded one. Perhaps the government believes that a day off will enable us to appreciate the impact of his contribution. But is that true?

I’d venture the answer is no. A child may ask what the name on the calendar means. Maybe a few will look him up on Wikipedia. Checks will be harder to cash. And thousands that already spend their time volunteering will take the opportunity to do so today as well. But does a commemorative holiday honor history or belittle it?

Veterans Day and Memorial Day, meant to commemorate combat and sacrifice, are both celebrated by barbecuing animal flesh and shooting off pyrotechnics that sound like gun fire and bombs. Is that really the best way to appreciate the reality of war and the soldiers who lost their lives fighting?

You may see a parade on Labor Day, but only about 12% of Americans belong to unions and corporations are being given human rights. We celebrate Columbus Day, but how many students know him as the greedy, misguided father of transatlantic slave trade that he was?

History must be remembered, especially those individuals that changed its course. However, commemorative holidays do a disservice to the events and lives they attempt to recognize. They trivialize and whitewash the struggles, flaws, and realities not only of those they observe, but of the problems they worked to solve.

MLK Jr. used his words and actions to tear down boundaries built by inequality. Yet nearly 50 years after his assassination, many claim that the dream he spoke of no longer needs advocates. Can we blame them for blinding themselves to continued racial prejudices when our nation treats King’s birthday so caviliarly?

It’s said that our memories define us. We save our experiences through photos, scrapbooks, journals, and Facebook walls. Those methods work well for an individual or group, but not an entire nation. Naming streets or even days after a person or event does not imbue us with understanding. The more years that pass, the further removed we become. Pseudo birthdays hold no meaning for us.

History repeats itself because we do not remember it authentically. A lone day off does not help us appreciate our past nor does it aid us in seeing how it influences our present. Our future brightens by centimeters, a generation at a time. How quickly the light could travel if only we committed ourselves to teaching the whole truth.

Our memories and history books are flawed. Yet the fact that we can do better is plain. Nothing can change until we face ourselves. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired others to take action. Knowing how to move forward comes from seeing where we’ve been and recognizing where we are now.

Do what others will not. Reflect, analyze, and act upon your dream. As King realized, you “can do small things in a great way”.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

“Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!” 

lesmis logo

Love me some Les Miserables.
*waves flag and sobs*
It’s almost enough to make you patriotic. Almost.

Yesterday was voting day in this part of the world. It was also Guy Fawkes Day, which was far more mentioned on my news feed. Yes, my digital spaces are cluttered with people living in democracies honoring a man they see as a revolutionary. Only he wasn’t. Guy Fawkes certainly wanted change, just not the kind people think of when they start a list of words that rhyme with ‘gunpowder’. Fawkes wanted to replace the ruling king with…another monarch. A Catholic one. He wanted a religious ruler, not an anarchic utopia. To be fair, a lot of my friends and fellow geeks were really talking more about V than Guy.

v

Come to think of it, I love me some V too. The above quote was in both the comic and the movie. It’s true. As long as someone believes in an idea, it cannot truly be destroyed. Ideas can change minds and lives, but without action they’re only flaccid symbols. As a writer and reader, hell as a human, I adore symbols. They inform and incite without requiring much, if any, effort. Thus with minimal effort, a little time, and society’s pliant memory, the meaning of a symbol can be thoroughly altered. Apathetically supporting a cause that sounds good rather than actually knowing anything about the movement itself is the norm. We have to take off the mask, we need to know how the person beneath was burned. When we speak of revolution, we must mind our revolutionaries.

I am not alone in wondering if the world is headed for a massive alteration of some kind.
Will the doomsday clock hit midnight?
Will the rapture happen before Armageddon?
Are we headed toward total climate breakdown?

We’re a morbid people. We like to contemplate the various ways in which we could reach total annihilation. Our fictional stories tell us that we also like to think about how to avoid such disaster. We’re an optimistic people.

When even the ‘best‘ countries spy on their citizens and deny them basic rights, can we really claim that any of our systems of government are working? Worldwide defiance has to be as least as likely as nuclear holocaust. Revolutions aren’t really so uncommon. Humans tend to take and dispense as much abuse as possible. We walk along the brink until someone puts that last toe over the line. We wait until the last piece of straw breaks us before we collaborate and find a solution. When will we finally go to far or wait to long? When will we be unable to repair and rebuild?

Can slow and steady really win the race or must we wait for every situation to be do or die? Let’s look at two other events that happened on November 5th. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony voted in a presidential election, a crime for which she was later arrested. Women didn’t gain the right to vote until nearly five decades later. In 2013, Illinois lawmakers voted to extend the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples.

illinois gay

We can transform our surroundings with just a bit of rebellion, but we have to be willing to risk something for it. Our democracies must transform. The way we vote must be reformed. Why? I’ll let CGP Grey explain:

We need change and not just as a word on a poster. Call the artists to engage the people, but make sure that there is substance behind the symbol. Everyday revolutions leave no need for revolt.